Cup Stuff Blog

Ruminating All Things NASCAR

NASCAR Drops The Ball Again With New Shootout Format

Posted by Keith Murray on August 29, 2008

You can see my article at http://www.insidethepitbox.com

I have watched with some amusement – and some frustration – this week as some of the TV pundits have talked about the new format of the Shootout and how good it is, and also how NASCAR is trying to reach out to the manufacturers. What they have done is turned what has in the past been an exciting race to kickstart the season into an absolute joke.

I have been to several Bud Shootouts in the past, and they are a lot of fun. After a few months of silent racetracks, I want to get back to watching some racing during the winter. I know we have a short off-season, but I remember how I felt back in January when Daytona testing was coming up and I did not want to miss anything that was going on and wanted every little scrap of news that I could find. And when the Bud Shootout came up, it was a great relief to finally be able to see some racing going again.

And now we have this joke being played on us. I knew when NASCAR allowed Bud to keep the Shootout but gave naming rights to the pole award to Coors Light that we would have problems on our hands. It is hard to get two sponsors to go along with the same idea; much less two sponsors that sell the same product trying to keep a format that has been here for years and working together. What were they going to do? Name it the Bud Coors Shootout and Pole Award?

Can we as fans keep at least one piece of tradition in this sport?? Brian France and the boys have taken away so much from the die-hard fans of old; so many traditions like the Darlington race on Labor Day (in exchange for the empty seats at Fonatana – watch this weekend; they’ll be there again) and great racing at Rockingham and North Wilkes, among many, many others. Then they throw out this new car in the name of parity and fairness. They take races away and spit on the heritage of racing in the South. They make drivers into little obedient puppets over the years, and then tell them at the beginning of this year that they want to see some emotion and give them leeway, then when two guys push each other around on the track, they get chastised and put on double, super-secret probation. Yeah. Like they are going to do something to those guys if they continue their little rivalry. Sounds like that woman in a restaurant this week that kept threatening her misbehaving son that this time she was really, really serious and he would be in big, serious trouble this time if he didn’t behave. Those threats keep coming and nothing ever happens. Besides, a little rivalry in this sport could bring some excitement back to the forefront.

I am so sick of hearing about all the race fans staying away because of the bad economy. First of all, this whole idea of a bad economy is being drummed up by the media to help their chosen candidate win a presidential election, but I digress. A race fan will find a way to get to the track if there is something to see and there is actually some racing going on at said track. And now instead of giving drivers some incentive to make a pole (I still remember Cousin Carl’s excitement at winning his first pole because he said he would get to race the Shootout the next year), we are going to get to watch an exhibition of the different manufacturers – the top six in owner’s points from each manufacturer. And instead of watching the guys that got it done with a very fast lap the year before, we get to watch guys that are going to finish the year outside the TOP 35 IN POINTS. If it were to be run based on the points right now, we would get the excitement of watching Jamie McMurray, and Travis Kvapil, and David Reutimann, and David Stremme (if he gets the 12 ride), and – gasp for excitement! – Michael Waltrip. How exciting is that!!! Nothing against those guys, but come on. Give me a break. I would rather watch 12 guys going around the track and fighting tooth and nail than to watch a bunch of field-fillers.

Come on, NASCAR. Instead of trying to squeeze every little corporate dollar from every different sponsor that you can shake down, you could have simply kept the pole award and the Shootout as a package deal and let Coors Light and Bud have a bidding war over who gets it. Instead, we have another instance of racing action suppressed and another reason for true fans of this sport to lose interest in the sport, and in this case, the startup event of the season. Good job, NASCAR. You continue to just squeeze what life is left out of this sport that we all love so dearly.

As always, please remember to pray for our troops in harm’s way whom give us the right to watch and complain about cars driving in circles. Also, be sure to check out my new blog at http://keith48.wordpress.com. Thanks for reading and God bless!

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