It's a New Year and the Fans Are in Charge: How Would NASCAR Look?

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IJanuary 2, 2010

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 31:  Fans cheer during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 31, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NASCAR fans have a lot of opinions when it comes to how things should be going, and they really love to express what they aren’t happy with.

While it seems they’re good at saying what they do and don’t like, very rarely do they offer up well thought out explanations on what they would like to see taking place. Or what they would implement when it comes to how they would like things done in terms of tracks, cars, and races.

Everyone knows what he or she isn’t happy about but now it’s time to ask: It's January of 2010 and you’re in charge, so what would you do?

The commanding response from fans is split between not being happy with the tracks on the current Sprint Cup Series schedule and not being happy with the Car of Tomorrow (COT). When talking about the track, it’s been widely expressed that many would love to see Darlington get both of its dates back, more importantly the Labor Day date.

Some say that Pocono, Michigan, and California should lose one of their dates, going back to one race instead of the current two on the docket. If that were to happen there is one track that has received much support of returning to the schedule.

North Wilkesboro.

North Wilkesboro was host to NASCAR races between 1949 and 1996 before their two dates were taken away. One went to New Hampshire and the other to Texas, since then fans have gathered on the Internet to try and bring the track back to glory.

Websites such as Save the and Abandoned But Not are dedicated to the North Carolina track. The good news is that the speedway will see action in 2010, but not in the Sprint Cup Series.

The USARacing Pro Cup Championship Series will head to North Wilkesboro in October. And while it’s not NASCAR action, many are very pleased to be able to head back and see the speedway with cars on it.

Besides North Wilkesboro, fans have plans for Daytona and Talladega. No matter how many times people have said that it won’t happen and it’s too dangerous, fans still want to “get rid of restrictor plates.”

While that thankfully will never happen for safety reasons, it’s interesting that while racing at those two tracks are already dangerous and exciting, fans seem to really want their racing to be as dangerous and on the edge as it can be.

With cars already having no problem lifting off the ground and causing havoc, who knows what would happen if they were unrestricted? Nothing good though, is something we can all agree on.

However, when it comes to Daytona other fans have something else in mind. Instead of ending the season in Homestead-Miami, “I’d switch the July Daytona race with Homestead race, so the season starts and ends at Daytona.”

The thought being there is no better place to crown a champion than at one of NASCAR grandest and most beloved track. Not to mention the season finale and seeing new Sprint Cup Series champion would be excellent TV.

Imagine having the points leader have to come through a cloud of smoke, as cars slide and crash all around, with the leaders coming to the checkered flag in a photo finish with flashbulbs popping and firework crackling.

Whew! At least we could hope.

Daytona provides exciting and action packed racing and many want to end the season with great racing, at a track that is unpredictable. If the season ended at Daytona, there is no telling how the championship battle would play out, but at least it would have people watching the final race of the year, knowing that there wasn’t a guarantee of a certain driver winning the title.

With the championship in mind, there is one thing on many fans minds when it comes to determining the champ: toss out the Chase.

The Chase was put in place to ensure that the championship battle would remain a fair fight and that no driver would be able to rack up a big point lead and cruise the rest of the season. In 2004 the Chase did exactly what NASCAR wanted it to do, the champion was decided in the final race by just eight points.

Somehow fans still don’t like the format. They want the points back to the way it was in the past, but if that was to happen, no one could answer whether they would pay attention to the last few races of the year if they knew who was going to win the title.

That’s what NASCAR is trying to avoid, but one fan has a specific way they would determine the champion. “Give 25 extra points for a win, and the driver with the most wins should win it all.”

Under that format Johnson would have won the 2009 title, Carl Edwards the 2008 title, and you could go back and look at the rest. The only problem with this format is that a driver could win a lot of races, but not be consistent enough to the win the title.

For example, Ryan Newman won eight races in 2003, but if he wasn’t winning he was wrecking. NASCAR wants their champion to be rewarded for being consistent for 36 weeks and being on top of his game. By giving the title to the driver that knows how to win but do nothing sounds good on paper, after a while might cause problems.

A way around that would be another fan suggestion of awarding points during the race, instead of the finishing order. For instances, points should be awarded based on where the drivers are running at say the halfway mark. If you're first you get 43 points, second place would get 42 points, and so on down the line. 

As long as the Chase is gone, fans will come up with plenty of other things to replace it.

Along with replacing the Chase, it shouldn’t come as any surprise they want to replace the COT too. This is a debate that has been raging since the COT debuted in 2007, and Kyle Busch said it sucked. Fans quickly agreed and now it’s become their goal, one and only goal, to get rid of it.

Some suggestions include: putting real bumpers on the cars, taking away the spoilers and splitters, forget about artificial down force and make them look like street cars. Or, take 200 pounds out of it and scrap the wing.

In reality fans just want things back to the way they were, with the “Twisted Sister” car. The COT is no doubt ugly, however, it’s also safer. If the COT were to disappear as the fans want, and a “stock” car was to return, the hope would be that it stays as safe as the COT is.

For today though, the fans are in charge, they’ll get to figure it out and deal with everything else. The ones that love the sport are finally getting their say, and this is how NASCAR would look under their guidance.

Other fan suggestions: 

Reinstate testing

I’d ask fans for suggestions, 10 best win box seats for four and all expenses to a race. And ask for same every year.

Promote the hell out of what used to be called the Koni Challenge Series. It's where win on Sunday, sell on Monday, now resides.