Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Speedways Taking Steps to Mix Up Racing

For the majority of NASCAR history the tracks have been generally the same. Four turns, two straights, and the start/finish line somewhere close to the middle of the front stretch. Times are changing.

With a demand for a more unique experience week to week, both challenging the drivers and creating new experiences for fans, tracks have begun to shake things up a bit.

Kentucky Speedway announced a repave beginning immediately after their 2015 race. Something that was expected until the speedway revealed layout changes as well.

By adding banking in turns 1 and 2 and leaving 3 and 4 flatter they created a unique challenge to both crew chiefs and drivers. Both drivers and fans raved about the changes when the track hosted its first race on the speedway last summer.

The drive to be unique did not stop there. Texas Motor Speedway announced changes by decreasing banking and widening turns 1 and 2 while leaving 3 and 4 the same as before.

Perhaps the most unique track to announce changes is Phoenix International Raceway. On Monday, the facility showed off their newly created plans to shake the racing up.

By moving the start/finish to the short stretch and changing the pit road the track completely changed race strategy. The dive bombs into old turn 1 should be incredible. What was already one of the most fun tracks on the circuit is guaranteed to be even more exciting.

I mean the track that produce the finish between Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick and the intense fall finish could be even more exciting. Let that sink in.

The speedway has now gone the extra mile to provide the drivers with a challenge and give the fans something new to experience.

I could not be more on board with this recent trend in the sport. What more could you ask for? We get to watch the best drivers in the world mix it up on tracks that they have never seen before.

Not to mention the challenge this creates for the crew to set the car up. Force these guys to pick what corner they set up for and let the drivers wrestle with their cars in the other.

All of this creates a show that the sport greatly needs. Couple this with the recent rule changes and stock car racing is at the dawn of a new day.

Take the time to applaud the speedways for taking these risks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NASCAR Makes Rule Changes

On Monday evening NASCAR officials announced a new format for the 2017 season. With Daytona only 5 weeks away, the format is quite different than anything the sport has seen before.

Each race will be broken up into segments with a caution flag to break them up. Drivers will be awarded points based on their finishing position at that point.

However, only the top 10 will be given points. 10 for 1st, 9 for 2nd and so on.

The final segment will award points to all 40 drivers and pay out similar to previous seasons.

NASCAR did not stop there. The sport added a new type of point called playoff points. These are points that carry over into the newly termed playoffs that give drivers an advantage each round.

The points are paid out in multiple ways. Race winners, or final segment winners, will be given 5 playoff points. Each segment winner is awarded 1 playoff point. The regular season champion will be awarded 15 playoff points.

It's quite clear why NASCAR made these changes. They will try to hide behind the simple reason that it makes drivers fight to stay up front all race long. Which is true, but it is a clear effort to make the sport fit nicely to a TV audience.

NASCAR ratings fell consistently throughout the 2016 season. By breaking the race up into segments they provide a nice little commercial spot and break for the casual fan. Almost like a quarter in football.

It also gives some importance to lap 75 of a 300 lap race. Casual fans have been screaming for years that race length is too long. This is an easy way for NASCAR to "shorten" race length while still giving the old school fan full length races.

I really dislike the fact that these segments will be broken up with a yellow flag. It is NASCAR's way of doing away with the phantom debris cautions that they been under heat for the past few years.

This whole system is a unique idea, and I will hold my judgment until I see it in action. I am worried that NASCAR will chase away its core base by making the races something that is unrecognizable.

This sport is one deeply rooted in tradition. If you need proof of that just look back to when NASCAR added Toyota to the sport. They better hope that these changes work as intended, or a large portion of their fanbase will chased away.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Welcome to A Racing Nation

First off, welcome to A Racing Nation! A one-stop place for all things covering the great American sport that is NASCAR.

As this blog rolls forward, all things from news, opinion, and race recaps will be posted. If there something that happens in the world of racing, I will point it out and even throw in my opinion for free. 

I also travel to a decent number of NASCAR events every season so that allows me to throw some great pictures and opinion on the various motor sport venues across the country. First on my list is the greatest race of them all, the Daytona 500. 

Racing is a sport that we can all get behind. It's not just turning left and smashing the throttle through the floorboard of your Chevy. Well, it's mostly not just smashing the throttle. I plan on pointing out the strategy, finesse, and skill that it takes to climb to the top of this difficult sport. 

For those new to racing, stick with me and you will be awakened to a wonderful sport and southern pastime. The tailgating isn't half bad, either. 

I look forward to it.