PAPosseRacing.com l Written By : Mike Baker
April 22nd, 2017 l Opinion Letter
Dear Dirt Track Fans,
Dirt track racing is arguably some of the best racing week to week you can find anywhere in the United States. Thousands of local short tracks every weekend tear apart the previous weeks track and turn a new page for the upcoming week's race. Drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, the list goes on for days, were born on dirt. However, they grew up on asphalt. Perhaps, it is the constant rule changes that NASCAR goes through season to season. Teams dissect every nanosecond of track time, but the casual fan does not follow the changes, they simply just want to see side by side racing and consistent passing.
Sprint Cars do not go through as many rules changes as the premier racing series. Over the years we’ve seen dished wings transition to flat wings, right rear tire size change, and recently the addition of a larger top wickerbill.
So, why is the divide greater than ever?
Well, in 2013, NASCAR started to bridge the divide between the two racing communities. Trucks! For years, Tony Stewart touted that NASCAR needs to come to Eldora, the famed Ohio track in which he owns. He hosted the Mud Summer Classic. The event was a splash, and is still the most popular NASCAR Truck event of the year.
If you think NASCAR is going to just turn over and run heats, consolation races, and a feature every week, I would hate to have to inform you that it won’t be happening.
But, this season NASCAR announced stage racing for all three national series. The stages are divided into three parts. Now, this is how I viewed the stages. It may be because I’m a glass half-full kind of guy. The stages are divided, so you have two shorter stages followed by one long stage. This is my view point, think of the two smaller stages as "Semi's." The top 10 in each of the first two/"Semi" scores playoff points. That’s pretty damn cool, if you ask me. Everyone then lines back up and runs the feature for the total payout and race points.
It’s not a hard concept to follow. Instead, I see a lot of ‘NASCAR is manufacturing a race’. Okay, yeah, I totally get that. However, isn’t "handicapping" the feature at your local sprint car track doing the same thing? Think about it once.
Unfortunately, NASCAR attendance is suffering. Stands aren’t as full as in the years past and the TV product is amazing. Tickets are a little pricey, but you have to dig and hunt for deals. Tracks every week have special family deals or just discounted tickets in certain sections. I’m going to a NASCAR race next week in Richmond, first NASCAR race since Dover in 2000. I bought tickets for $99 each. Not bad, considering we are sitting 30 rows up from the finish line in a section with only 34 rows. It’s equivalent to sitting in the ‘Reserved’ seats at Williams Grove or any dirt track. Still way under ticket prices for the NFL, which so many fans like to compare it to.
I love that NASCAR is always changing the car to provide better racing. Taking more and more downforce away from the car, while at the same time, teams are trying to build more and more downforce back into them. Racing is a evolving science, and with that, rules must evolve along with it.
So with that being said, if you love sprint car racing, give NASCAR another chance. Have a great weekend at the races and remember, the kid you’re watching could be the next big thing!