Even though the racing economy is still in the tank and a decent sponsor is harder to find than a $100 bill sitting on the sidewalk, through the first five races of the 2010 Nationwide Series, there have actually been fewer start and parks than there were in the same time frame in 2009.
Through the first five races of 2009 (The Texas race came before Nashville last year) there were 25 start and parks, according to Racing Reference. (To determine a start and park, I went through the box scores and any team with a history of start and parking who was out of the race within the first 100 laps because of a problem like "handling" or "overheating" was considered a start and park)
In 2010, there have only been 18 start and parks. If there's an underlying reason for the decrease, I sure as heck haven't figured it out. Before the season started, NASCAR cut the purses in the top three series by 10 percent, so that by itself would logically lead one to assume that there would be more start and parks.
And teams like Brian Keselowski's K Automotive are still running their start and park cars to finance a car to run the distance. For teams like Keselowski's, who have no primary sponsor and do want to race, a start and park operation on the side is a necessity to be able to afford tires and a crew to race.
It does help the statistics that D'Hondt-Humphrey Motorsports (formerly MSRP) hasn't qualified as well as they did last year. D'Hondt-Humphrey, with drivers like Johnny Chapman and Terry Cook, have perfected the art of starting and parking.
So hopefully this continues and we can enjoy more cars on the track. And if anyone has a good theory explaining this trend, feel free to drop by in the comments.
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