As the 2013 NASCAR season enters its final months, changes are already beginning to happen that will affect the 2014 season and beyond.
Teams are beginning to announce driver and sponsor changes for the upcoming season, and NASCAR has been busy working out its new television deal with FOX and NBC that goes into effect beginning with the 2015 season.
But there is one change that NASCAR should make that would certainly benefit the sport going forward. NASCAR should follow golf’s lead and designate four races as majors.
Designating four races as majors could only do good things for NASCAR. It's no secret that the four majors on golf's schedule are the biggest tournaments of the year.
So, why shouldn't NASCAR have four "big" races?
There is more media coverage when it comes to the majors, and that gives them more of a big-game atmosphere.
According to sportsmediawatch.com, the three most-watched golf events of 2013 (through July 18th) were all majors. It is a fact that people will take a greater interest if the tournament, or in NASCAR's case a race, is treated with more importance as opposed to being just another event on the schedule.
But there is more that NASCAR could do to take their four majors to another level other than just giving them a fancy new title.
As it is now, each race on the NASCAR schedule awards the same amount of points. Why not change that for majors?
The points awarded during one of the majors could be double that of a standard race. Or, if NASCAR really wants to put an emphasis on winning, the driver who claims the checkered flag at a major could be awarded an additional 20-point bonus.
NASCAR could award more prize money for the major races than for the rest of the events, but other financial incentives could also be offered.
Any driver who wins multiple majors in a calendar year should receive a monetary bonus.
Why not change up the qualifying format for the majors as well? Instead of using the traditional time trials to set the starting grid, NASCAR could use heat races to set the field.
Giving the fans as many races as possible over the course of a weekend would be a great way to make certain races feel more special than others.
How about realigning the schedule so that all four of the sports' majors take place following an off-weekend?
This would give NASCAR two weeks to build the hype and anticipation for a big race, instead of the normal one week.
It just seems like NASCAR could benefit in a multitude of ways by implementing some majors to their schedule.
The media buzz would be enormous, the fan interest would surely be piqued and certainly it would give the drivers, teams and sponsors some extra incentive to bring their best performance.
The biggest problem that NASCAR would face should they ever decide to move forward with this plan would be picking which four events would become the majors.
Undoubtedly, the Daytona 500 would be one of the four, and it would seem logical that Indianapolis, because of its rich racing tradition, would be one as well.
That leaves two spots and a lot of worthy candidates.
Martinsville has been a fixture on the NASCAR schedule since 1949, the inaugural year of the series, and Darlington has hosted a race since 1950.
Those seem like the two best choices to become the third and fourth majors, but Bristol, Charlotte and the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami could all have cases made for their races as well.
Unfortunately, all of this is nothing more than wishful thinking at this point. There is no news leak to suggest that NASCAR majors are on the horizon nor has any high-ranking official ever hinted at such a movement.
While it is fun to think about NASCAR adopting this format, only time will tell if it will ever actually happen. It just seems that there is more upside to it than downside.
While everyone gets excited about the Chase, NASCAR's version of a playoff system, and the crowning of a series champion at the end of the year, it would be just as exciting to honor some drivers with the title of "major champion" and bring the sport some added interest during the regular season as well.
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