It started with the inception of the COT – it was originally slated to have a partial rollout through 2007 and 2008, beginning a full schedule in 2009. However, midway through 2007, the team owners went to NASCAR and said it’s too expensive to maintain a fleet of two types of cars and the COT is ready for full time competition. NASCAR listened, and the COT ran full time in 2008.
It was thought a new NASCAR was emerging, one that listened, took input, and tried to operate off of mutual consensus.
The old NASCAR was an absolute dictatorship – the France’s were in charge, and that’s they way it was…
For example: “Don’t want to race at Talladega? Tough, we’ll just find drivers who do.”
Decisions were made at the whims of the higher heads, from the schedule, to the gear rules, to the penalties.
For the All-Star race in 1997, Jeff Gordon’s car was built to exploit every gray area in the rule book – it wasn’t illegal, just in that foggy space between what could and could not be done. NASCAR told them never to race that car again.
In 2002, NASCAR announced on a whim that the Chevy teams would get a 2-inch kick out on their nose for Michigan… and only Michigan.
In 2004, Tony Stewart’s rear window fit all the templates, but NASCAR just didn’t like it. They took the car.
The new NASCAR, however, was going to be different. It started with the COT when they listened to the car owners, and was followed by the infamous drivers’ and owners’ meetings this summer.
Could it be? A NASCAR that was listening to the people in the sport? It appeared awfully so. A few weeks after the meeting, the “Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style” came along (can we please stop saying “Shootout Style?” I’m pretty sure I analyzed the music of Aaron Copland “Shootout Style” this weekend).
The Nationwide COT was going to be allowed various stylistic differences between the brands to help the manufacturers out.
But since then? Nothing.
The COT remains the same for next year, despite the calls of some drivers that a huge, positive change could be made very easily if the teams could just add a little left-side weight to the cars, among other things.
Carl Long’s penalty is still out there after his oversized engine at the All-Star race (through no fault of his own).
Then there was that no bump-drafting rule at Talladega, condemned by virtually everyone who does not work directly for NASCAR.
NASCAR even tried to get after Dale Jarrett for calling the racing at Talladega essentially, “boring.”
OK, Dale Jarrett is a NASCAR champion who drove and acted in such a manner that he earned the respect of everyone in and outside the garage. In my opinion, he gets to say whatever he wants to say, alright? If he says the racing is boring, it’s because it is (and even if it’s not, he’s Dale Jarrett – ‘nuff said).
NASCAR’s sudden shifts in direction have me more confused than a tilt-a-whirl. Are they listening, or aren’t they? Or, are they just pretending to listen, and throwing us a bone every once in a while to keep us happy?
Other NASCAR Notes
Just one: why don’t people like fuel mileage races? To me, they are the most drama-filled, suspenseful finishes second only to photo-finishes. Instead of having Kyle Busch win by 10 car-lengths over his brother Kurt, I would much rather have the drama of “who has enough gas?”
Well, there are only two races left until the looooong racing-less winter (I can smell Daytona already). Enjoy Phoenix.