Sax­ton: Search­ing for so­lu­tions for NASCAR’s trou­bles

The Hamburg Area Item - - Sports - By Ernie Sax­ton For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Let me share with you some of the com­ments and thoughts re­ceived from read­ers of my var­i­ous col­umns on mo­tor­sports … mostly cover­ing NASCAR.

Many read­ers feel that the seg­ment rac­ing has been a plus but most of them feel they are get­ting cheated out of some green flag rac­ing when it takes NASCAR of­fi­cials so long to get the next seg­ment rac­ing.

There are many fans that would like to see the sea­son for Cup rac­ing short­ened. It is pretty much the long­est sea­son in sports, run­ning from Fe­bru­ary to Novem­ber. It would be tough to shorten, hav­ing to de­cide what races stay on the sched­ule and what races go, but a short­ened sea­son just may be the sal­va­tion of Cup rac­ing. My wife has of­ten said that it is bet­ter to leave them want­ing more.

This did not come a reader but I think NBC’s Steve Le­tarte, a for­mer NASCAR Cup crew chief, is right with his thoughts. Sir­iusXM NASCAR Ra­dio’s Pete Pi­s­tone dropped by NASCAR Amer­ica Wed­nes­day for his weekly ap­pear­ance on the show.

Pi­s­tone dis­cussed with Nate Ryan and Steve Le­tarte his thoughts on a pos­si­ble “cone rule” that would de­ter­mine the lineup on restarts ( and pre­vent driv­ers from stop­ping at the end of pit road) and also a Sir­iusXM NASCAR Ra­dio fan poll about who is Toy­ota’s top driver of the mo­ment, Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch.

On the cone rule: “I’m against an­other rule, that’s kind of where I am here. … Its games­man­ship, I get it. … I would hate to think that NASCAR has to in­ter­vene, guys, to save them from them­selves. I per­son­ally think this is some­thing that would take care of it­self.”

Le­tarte agreed, say­ing such a rule would be “im­pos­si­ble to en­force.”

“Enough al­ready with the rules,” Le­tarte said. “This is about com­pe­ti­tion. If I want to slam on the brakes on that pit road for the name of com­pe­ti­tion. So be it. That’s like say­ing a quar­ter­back can’t take a knee. ‘ No, you have to have a real play. You can’t just take a knee.’ Enough is enough and the rule­book is al­ready thick enough.”

Think about this sug­ges­tion from a long time reader: NASCAR should man­date that only Toy­ota can run in Cup races. They seem to be do­ing so well that per­haps an all Toy­ota field would make the race so much more ex­cit­ing. And NASCAR could get Toy­ota to spon­sor the se­ries.

Read­ers keep telling us how dif­fi­cult it is to get au­to­graphs from Cup rac­ers these days es­pe­cially the younger ones. All rac­ers should take the time to find and lis­ten to MRN’s “Road to Roy­alty Pre­sented by STP” which cov­ers the legacy of Richard Petty. When you have driv­ers that go out of their way to avoid peo­ple seek­ing au­to­graphs they should hear how Petty feels about fans and au­to­graphs. Ev­ery racer should be do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to im­prove the re­la­tion­ships be- tween fans and them­selves.

The an­nounce­ment by Brad Ke­selowski that he will not field his truck teams in 2018. He was los­ing a mil­lion dol­lars a sea­son. That does not bode well for the truck se­ries which I feel had some of the most ex­cit­ing rac­ing be­ing of­fered in NASCAR.

Many read­ers have ex­pressed their dis­ap­point­ment that Dale Jr. will not be in the play­offs as he fin­ishes his Cup ca­reer. Hard to fig­ure what went wrong with the team? One top five fin­ish to his credit as this was be­ing writ­ten. In­ter­est­ing to note that his poor per­for­mance on the track has not seemed to take away from his pop­u­lar­ity.

I do not share the en­thu­si­asm for road course races that many of the Cup fans do but sev­eral of our read­ers would like to see more Cup races on the road cour­ses. I like to be able to see the en­tire track and the only way that seems to be pos­si­ble is if you are watch­ing the race on TV and they have a large num­ber of cam­eras in place.

Dave Cald­well, who wrote for the New York Times some years back, pens a column on Forbes. com from time to time. Just re­cently he wrote that he thought it would be a great idea to re­vive the race on Day­tona Beach it­self. I doubt that would or could hap­pen but if it could it would be some­thing to see. Not many that were there back when races were run on the beach are still around to share the sto­ries.

In fact when I am at our Or­mond Beach, Florida home, next to Day­tona Beach, I of­ten get to chat with some of those old timers that are still hang­ing. One told me about his ex­ploits on the beach. There were no seat belts and other har­nesses. He ex­plained to me that when he raced on the beach he used rope that was wrapped around him and his seat. And if the ve­hi­cle was in an ac­ci­dent and rolled over he would use the knife that was taped to the dash­board to cut the rope and hope­fully crawl to safety. Not the only story we have heard like that.

Many read­ers feel that NASCAR has got­ten car­ried away with far too many rules. Only the NASCAR Foun­da­tion seems to ben­e­fit from all the fines that are col­lected.

And a long time reader finds it sur­pris­ing that NASCAR needs to put PJ1 Track­Bite trac­tion com­pound on dif­fer­ent tracks. It is sup­posed to pro­vide ad­di­tional grip in an ef­fort to cre­ate side- by- side rac­ing. The reader ques­tions the need when sup­pos­edly NASCAR rac­ers, es­pe­cially the Cup tal­ents are sup­posed to be the world’s great­est rac­ers.

** * The fi­nal point races of the sea­son are set to take place at Grand­view Speed­way on Satur­day fea­tur­ing TP Trail­ers 358 Mod­i­fieds, BRC Late Mod­els and NASCAR Sports­man. Race night is spon­sored by WNPV- AM Ra­dio. Rac­ing starts at 7: 30 p. m. This will be the fi­nal op­por­tu­nity for Mod­i­fied rac­ers, rac­ing in two 30- lap fea­tures, to tune up for the $ 30,000 to win Free­dom 76 Run in Honor of the late Bruce Rogers on Satur­day, Septem­ber 16th.

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