Position 10 in the Daytona Countdown

Earlier, I asked for a list of the five “greatest” drivers ever to race at Daytona. I also noted that I would count the list down as we approach the race itself. But I am expanding the list to also include positions 6-10.

The results are based on statistics – not a subjective approach to the term “greatest.” The top 10 is based on a statistic of wins per miles raced at Daytona in all “money” races, such as qualifiers, the Daytona 500 and the Pepsi 400. (For instance, 12,000 laps with 3 wins amounts to 1 win per 4,000 miles raced).

Position number ten belongs to:

(Insert your drum roll here)

10. Jimmie Johnson (5117.5 miles : 1 win total)

NASCAR’s Wish List for 2008 (Part 2)

A couple of weeks ago we posted our first blog entry for this racing season with NASCAR’s Wish List for 2008. We want to take this opportunity to expand on various wishes in order to explain why we “hypothesized” the way we did. Keep in mind that the “wishes” are based more on the business side of NASCAR than the racing side.

Here are three wishes.

#10: No “three-peat”. Las Vegas bookmakers give #48 a 4 to 1 chance of three-peating as Sprint Cup champion. It’s only been done once. We think NASCAR would like to see a close championship but with a new face (or even familiar face) in order to stimulate greater fan interest in the Race for the Chase as well as the Chase itself. An analogy would be the Chicago Bulls, UCLA under Wooden and even the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fans of those teams loved their dynasties but others were turned off by their repeated success.

#9: #88 makes the Chase. He’s been the most popular driver the last several years but has had his ups and downs. What better way to stimulate fan interest than to have Dale Jr. make the Chase — or even better, to win it all? Given all the off-season hype about Jr. winning races and making the Chase, fans would be sorely disappointed if after Richmond in September, he’s down in 14th or 15th place.

#8: TV ratings and track attendance improve. Of course, NASCAR wants these to happen but not simply to point to the sport’s popularity. Rather, sponsors and TV network exec’s would be thrilled at the possibility of greater exposure — and that’s why they pay big bucks for television contracts and bright logos on the race cars.

Stay tuned for further elucidation.

Jon

Daytona at 50 — A Dangerous (?) Little Quiz

It is always problematic to go searching for the “best” or to look for the “greatest” in any genre. But here we go, even as we remember the old saw: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Our premise is simple:

Who are the five greatest drivers to ever race at Daytona?

As we count down to race week we will periodically reveal what our (rough) statistical analysis indicates for the past 50 years

We would love to receive your list

One Change France Should Make: A Modest Proposal for the Top 35 Rule

After several years at the helm of NASCAR, Brian France said last Monday that NASCAR will minimize the number of changes it makes this year. His rationale was that NASCAR needed to bring back lost fans. I (and others) couldn’t agree more that the rapid changes he instituted did dampen the enthusiasm of many fans toward the sport they love(d).

However, there should be one change instituted as quickly as possible — the elimination of the “top 35 rule.” Joe Menzer in his NASCAR.com column on Tuesday called for the rule to be eliminated. Jeff Burton has indicated that sponsors for teams outside the top 35 are few and far between since there is no guarantee their teams will make the race. Even Darrell Waltrip was quoted in Menzer’s article acknowledging that the “top 35 rule” has drawbacks as well as benefits to the sport.

Last year I wrote that the “top 35 rule” was patently unfair and in effect was creating “franchises.”

If we’re not going to eliminate the rule entirely, how’s this for a compromise: top 12 must qualify on time (with so many past champions probably in the top 12, the chances of those drivers not making it are miniscule), positions 13-25 are guaranteed starting spots, and 26-42 (26-43 if no past champion’s provisional is used) qualify on time. That gives teams that have faster times than those in positions 13-25 a much better chance of making the race and not having to pack it in for the weekend at great expense.

Then again, I’m probably “spitting into the wind” on this one!

Jon

NASCAR’S Wish List for 2008

We began our blog last year with our top 10 predictions. We hit on a few of them and felt really good. This year, instead of predictions, we offer NASCAR’s Wish List for 2008 — what does NASCAR, which is so often accused of pulling the puppet strings, want to see happen this year. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss the wishes in more depth. So, here goes!

#11 (OK, we want to start with a joke): No more “debris on the track” cautions!

#10: No “three-peat”

#9: #88 makes the Chase

#8: TV ratings and track attendance improve

#7: Everyone loves the COT

#6: One of the open-wheel drivers — preferably Montoya — makes the Chase

#5: An end to bickering over the 35 rule

#4: Toyota Wins

#3: A New Venue (Track)

#2: Less boring races

#1: Danica “sees the light”

NASCAR News

The Tribune papers eliminate national NASCAR coverage, prompting veteran scribe Ed Hinton, one of the most prominent auto racing writers around, to resign from the Orlando Sentinel, his home base.
Toyota is bullish on 2008 season.
A Q&A with Junior.
About the Canadian stars with promising NASCAR futures.
A “fable” about Junior’s sponsorship changes and the possible response from his considerable fan base.
Mark Zeske of SI says “rules, provisionals have outlived purposes.”
NASCAR.com says these drivers need to step up in 2008 — and says the pressure is also on these teams and other groups.
Ten reasons NASCAR will be “huge” in 2008.
Darrell Waltrip explains the working relationship between drivers/teams and NASCAR.