Purses should boost incentive
Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009
Some thoughts on NACAR, motorsports and more:
MY TWO CENTS
NASCAR competition director Robin Pemberton said last week that teams dropping out early in Cup races need to have a legitimate reason for doing so.
Pemberton doesn't think "start and park" teams are necessarily good for stock-car racing's top series. He has a point.
If my team wants to try to race in an effort to develop as a race team, NASCAR should encourage that over teams that just show up, stick a trick setup in the car to qualify and then harvest last-place money without making any effort to compete.
There is a way NASCAR could help the teams that are actually trying to race, and that's to adjust the payoffs in race purses.
AJ Allmendinger ran 328 laps in the No. 44 Toyota and finished 17th Sunday at Atlanta. He won $77,825. David Gilliland ran 326 laps, finished 24th and won $73,200 with a team that owns one race car. Mike Bliss ran 21 laps in the No. 09 before retiring, listing overheating as the reason for dropping out. He finished last and won $70,141.
Where is the incentive for the No. 09 team to work harder to last longer and be more competitive?
I don't know how much a team that earns $70,000 and saves its pennies in trying to compete can clear. I don't think that's the number that needs to be changed.
But Joey Logano finished six spots behind Gilliland and won $121,551. Only seven other teams in the race won more money than Logano.
Logano drives for the No. 20 team, where Tony Stewart won two championships and a bunch of races in that car for Joe Gibbs Racing. Because of that, the 20 team gets a big chunk of the money from "owners' plans" tied to television money for each race.
The idea behind that is that the teams doing the best are the ones that bring viewers to the telecasts, so they should be compensated for helping NASCAR earn its television money.
There may be some merit in that, but $50,000 worth of merit per race? I don't think so. The purse structure needs to be reworked so there's no way that the 30th-place car makes $121,551 and the sixth-place car (in this case, Clint Bowyer) gets $96,350.
NASCAR made the right call
Nobody is trying to turn Jimmy Watts into Dr. Evil, but NASCAR was right to suspend him four races after he chased a wayward tire into the infield while Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was under the green flag.
Watts acted on instinct and clearly had no intent to do anything wrong.
But he put himself in danger and NASCAR had to send a message. The next time crew members start to react the way Watts did, they might remember what happened to Watts and stop. Let's hope so.
Racing will get rougher for some
After Bristol, this years points standings will be used to determine who's in the top 35 and have a guaranteed a starting spot.
Several teams have been trying to establish themselves, hoping sponsors would notice and help them keep going. But that's not happening.
Unless something materializes, several teams will run out of road after Bristol and more people will lose their jobs. People who've been around racing their whole lives tell me they've never seen things as bad as they are now.