DEGROOT: Round The Track


Many long-term race fans who seem impervious to change want to keep bringing up the “good ole days” when a champion was crowned by a season-long points battle. These people need to understand that in this ever-changing world, we must change with it, or face being left behind. When you are gradually losing fan interest, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Do you know what would happen to NASCAR if it never bothered to try new things? It would become IndyCar, which is far gone from its glory days when it ruled the American motorsport landscape.

I love IndyCar and the series puts on fantastic shows all the time, but its fan base has dwindled regardless. It has became nothing more than a small bleep on the radar in the motorsports world with the Indy 500 its saving grace. IndyCar has realized it is going in the wrong direction, though, and is adapting to the needs of today’s fans. Besides a cool looking new car, we now have heats to set the grid occasionally, a few events have been chopped up into intense sprint races and the use of standing starts has been toyed with.

Don’t resist change because if NASCAR didn’t keep evolving, then it would one day be no more than a skeleton of its former self — just like it’s open-wheel brethren.

Look at this way, if you don’t like the format that is being implemented, just wait it out because it will be different in a few more years. Is it a sign of desperation to keep changing? No. It’s a sign that the sport is willing to evolve and adapt which is a necessity if you want to survive as a sport.

NASCAR doesn’t have the luxury of being embedded in the DNA of the American culture to the point where everyone flocks to races (even if they don’t know anything about it), like football does.

Oh, and if you are one of those freaking out about consistency being thrown out the window with this new format; calm down. Yes, these changes put a huge emphasis on winning and the points aren’t as significant anymore, but here’s some comfort for you. Under this new format, a winless Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have theoretically won the 2013 championship.

I could go on and on about how the strategies, cautions, way people drove, and all that would have changed the outcome if this format was in play, but I’ll save you the time because I think you get the point. Consistency can still prevail when it’s all said and done.

That’s been the case with every system NASCAR has ever used with the 2011 seasons of Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart being the epitome of that. Until points are completely eradicated from the system, a solid and consistent driver could still end up on top in the end.

I feel that we are going in the right direction with this new format, but the alterations that I disagreed with earlier in this story need to be rescinded for me to fully support it. Despite that, I can’t wait to see how it works and I know that it will leave us all speechless on more than one occasion this year.

NASCAR is always evolving and trying new things; that’s part of the reason why it’s so interesting to me. NASCAR must be careful though, because in the endless crusade to emulate other top sports and rival their popularity, it might just lose the fundamental qualities that make NASCAR racing unique and sets it apart from stick and ball games.

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