Believe it or not, NASCAR may actually own a set of ears. They seem to be listening to fans and members of the sport. Fans have moaned and groaned about the NASCAR powers that be for the past decade. Hopefully, the recent decision NASCAR has made could earn back the trust and confidence of the fans.
NASCAR fans were explicitly disenchanted throughout most of the 2009 season. The disenchantment had been brewing for years and dramatically increased after Brian France and company altered the championship format in 2004, and then created the unsightly Car of Tomorrow. Earlier in the decade, traditionally esteemed tracks lost races to cookie cutter tracks in metropolitan markets, leaving a bad taste in many fans mouths. Harsh penalties for drivers for displaying raw emotion seemed to suck the life out of many of the competitors. Inconsistent start times were a burden for many fans. Grievances were continually pouring into NASCAR’s lap.
What irked the fans the most, however, was the fact that NASCAR did not seem to listen. They appeared reluctant to change unless it was money driven, and not in the fans best interest.
Last summer, NASCAR officials took a giant step in earning back the trust of the fans when they called a meeting with drivers and teams, and then instituted the double-file restart rule within weeks of the meeting.
As we embark upon the 2010 season, NASCAR endeavors to start the decade on a positive upswing. Last week, they proclaimed that the rear wing would be replaced by a traditional aluminum spoiler. The car itself will be more attractive, and the racing should improve. It is a popular change with the drivers and fans.
On Thursday during the Preseason Media Tour, NASCAR unshackled a mass of changes, starting with the horsepower addition for the upcoming Daytona 500, as they will enlarge the openings in the restrictor plate. They will allow the drivers to police themselves as far as bump drafting is concerned. After careful consideration and recommendations from several drivers, the yellow line statute will remain in effect.
NASCAR stated that they will allow drivers express their frustrations without dropping the hammer every time there is any hint of conflict. They tested that concept last year at Homestead with the Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski ordeal, and it seemed to go over well.
In addition to these warmly welcomed modifications, NASCAR now provides a list of banned substances following the Jeremy Mayfield debacle of 2009. Furthermore, they will limit each Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams to fifteen members. The trucks will also feature double file restarts.
All of these changes appear to be positive for NASCAR, a sport that many feel is overregulated with strict yet conflicting rules. It remains to be seen exactly how well these changes will work, but we all have much to look forward to in 2010, as NASCAR attempts to redeem itself from the influx of denigration.
As for the racing, Robin Pemberton said it best.
“Boys (drivers), have at it, and have a good time.”