With the dawning of a new NASCAR season on the brink, I decided to tune in as the Daytona 500 was set to wave the green flag Sunday.
Once the race began, my first thought was, “What in the heck is this?”
This was my introduction to NASCAR’s new stage racing – and what a disaster it is.
As if lengthy cautions weren’t enough to make races drag on way too long, now we have intermissions that are purposely built in, further disrupting the race flow. I’d rather see the drivers keep their feet on the gas pedal.
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It also would be nice to be able to tune in without the need to constantly consult a rule book during the Sunday drive.
After hearing Owen Wilson utter auto racing’s most famous words – “Gentlemen, start your engines!” – it became crystal clear that the product that followed was nothing like the one that captivated me as a kid.
Stages? OK, so yeah, I certainly had to use Google to try to figure this thing out. I knew NASCAR was introducing new rules this year, but I had yet to look into just how different it would be.
Well, it might just require a math tutor.
The gist is that drivers are rewarded points for finishing in the top 10 of the three stages of a race, with the winner of each earning “playoff points” that can be carried over to the “playoffs,” essentially what used to be the Chase. There are several other ways to earn bonus points along the way and drivers are also awarded points based on overall race finish.
The playoffs will once again feature a series of rounds that lead to eliminations en route to a “Final Four” for the final race.
Whew. And that was just my version of Cliffs Notes.
I understand that NASCAR has constantly been tweaking its formats because of waning interest in the product, which just over a decade ago was the fastest-growing sport.
However, sometimes reinventing the wheel leads to flat tires.
I remember a time when drivers were rewarded for consistency in a system where they could conceivably win a Cup title without even winning a race in a particular season.
Well, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Therefore, NASCAR started to move the sport toward increasingly rewarding race winners, with the Chase steadily adding incentives for those showing up in Victory Lane during the season.
As the Chase morphed, the ratings still trended downward. Now, we have an even more complicated system.
Will stage racing rev up the ratings? I doubt it.
What NASCAR has been doing is the equivalent of someone taking a car with no problems into a mechanic and pulling out of the garage with issues that didn’t previously exist.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Unfortunately for NASCAR, it is several tune-ups too late.
The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team hosts Louisiana-Monroe at 7 p.m. Monday and plays at Appalachian State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. … The CCU women’s basketball team plays at Appalachian State at 1 p.m. Saturday. … Coastal’s baseball team concludes the Caravelle Resort Tournament with a matchup against West Virginia at noon Monday, plays at UNC Wilmington at 4 p.m. Wednesday and hosts San Francisco (1:30 p.m. Friday), Winthrop (1:30 p.m. Saturday), Albany (5 p.m. Saturday) and San Francisco (noon Sunday) in the Tidelands Health Classic this week. … The Coastal Carolina women’s golf team plays in the Edwin Watts Kiawah Island Classic on Monday and Tuesday. … CCU’s women’s tennis team plays at South Carolina State at 1 p.m. Tuesday and hosts Charlotte at 11 a.m. Sunday. … Coastal’s softball team hosts North Dakota (2:30 p.m. Friday), the Bison again (3 p.m. Saturday), UConn (5:30 p.m. Saturday) and Northern Kentucky (2:30 p.m. Sunday) in the Coastal Carolina Invitational. … Coastal’s men’s track and field team competes in the Battle of the Beaches XI on Saturday. … The Clemson men’s basketball team hosts N.C. State at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Boston College at 4 p.m. Saturday. … The South Carolina men’s basketball team hosts Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Tuesday and plays at Mississippi at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. … NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. … The Green Sea Floyds girls basketball team takes on Estill at 4 p.m. Friday in the Class A state championship game in Columbia. … The PGA Tour heads to Chapultepec, Mexico for the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship from Thursday through Sunday. … The ATP Tour begins play in the ATP Brasil Open and ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on Monday. … The WTA Tour starts play in the WTA BMW Malaysian Open on Monday. … The ACC women’s basketball tournament begins Wednesday and concludes with Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game at The HTC Center in Conway.