Back to basics, eh? Well, I haven't seen anything return to its roots yet.
Even if "roots" aren't what you're trying for, let's fix some problems that should have ended on Day 1 of your inauguration.
1.) Single-file caution restarts. Bad fuel mileage? Stay out. Leader is in the back. Good fuel mileage? Stay out. Four fresh rubbers are ten cars back. Now, your favorite driver's water bottle doesn't ruin bad fuel mileage or a fast car's chances in the final ten laps. No matter what number fans want in Victory Lane, conspiracy theorists will have a hard time proving you helped your golden boy to his burnout.
Perhaps this is a bigger issue to me, since many of my favorites get overtaken quite often or race to stay with the leaders. They tend to get lapped, then restart at the back of the field after cautions. As for the final-ten-lap rule, either or in my opinion. Majority of fans will say keep that going, though.
a.)This could also mean that staggered pitting should also get the boot. I'm old school. I say tough it out. Let everyone pit when they want. Plus, one less lap each caution. Can you hear all the fans cheering, too?
2.) One race per track. I know this won't happen by 2009, but 2010 is within reach until the 2009 Bud Shootout. Point is, no track is better than another. What would Thomas Jefferson think?
3.) To make #2 easier, more road courses and short tracks. Each add will cancel out the anger of another. Ringers add intrigue & foreign markets. Little ovals make for big audiences.
4.) Make cars safer AND look "stock-y". Thankfully, the Cup series hasn't had a fatality since "Number 3". However, like most drivers today, if today's hooded speedsters want to drive wing-mobiles, Tony George has a cell phone and a team. (Heard of Paul Tracy?)
My suggestion is make the highest seller of each manufacturer the car for the following season. Basically what it is now, but that makes it an official rule that will be followed out. Preparation sake make force the rule to be the next following year ('07 sales in '09) or whatever works best. You know how your sport works.
5.) If not for a couple of points races, put the All-Star race at a dirt track. The Prelude to the Dream has grown exponentially. This should be a no-brainer. Dirt or a 1.5-mile sprint race? You decide. Every race has 10 sprints as it is now. 5 or less cautions in a race is sacrilegious. Not your fault. 95% of cautions are deserved.
6.) As I've emailed many different websites and columnists, limit the Cup drivers to 7 "weekends" of double duty per lesser series, keep a triple possible. Seven makes sense being the rookie limit. I have no problem with a team winning the owners' cup with 5 different drivers. That takes talent too. We can't penalize the crews. The whole point of being a rookie is having less experience then the elders. Let drivers earn their time at each track. If they are good, they'll eventually get the wins. This gives better odds to the people that have spent years running your sport hoping their day would come and never did because "young guns" got two or three times the seat time. (Burtons, Wallaces, and Nemechek come to mind.)
7.) Make the Daytona 500 the season finale. When, I first heard this idea in '07, I was shocked. Should the biggest race in stock car change dates?... Well, yes! If it wants to keep its lore, it better. Don't get me wrong, Homestead. Actually, they've grown on me quite a bit since they added banking. Nothing personal.
This is more about Daytona. With all the qualifying rules, perhaps the opener needs to stay. Let's make it the 400, since mileage is the biggest distinction. Otherwise, February is just a joke. If the #4 Kodak, Ward Burton, '08 Penske teams, and , sadly my favorite, Michael Waltrip are your first choices on your Hall of Fame ballot. Fine. Stay the course. If not, let's consider this "side bar".
If we must keep this "Chase" thing, what better way to keep suspense! What other form of racing can the leader with 120 points over 5 other teams not take it easy on the last lap. Every team within 161 points will go to bed with a dream of holding the Cup. Teammates' decisions will become all the more important in the final laps, as well.
Now, instead of "the man" deciding the championship, it's third and fourth coming off Turn 4. As many announcers like to say, "let's just let the racers decide".