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NASCAR Welcomes Football Fans
by Sally Baker
February 1, 2004

With all the hubbub going on around Nascar these days, I thought it was about time someone gave an official welcome to those millions of football fans that will be switching to Nascar Cup races instead of football games this fall. I think it would be nice to fill in a few of the blanks for all of these new fans.

Nascar and NBC have tried their best to make the switch from football to racing as painless as possible by changing the way we crown our champion. We used to go the entire 36-race season, then the driver who had the best average finishes was crowned the champion. Nascar wanted you football fans to feel at home, so they changed it so we have a playoff, just like football! No. Wait. That's not right. It's not a playoff; it's a "chase". Whatever. You might be a little confused at first, because all 43 teams will still be on the track at the same time, including the 10 that can actually win the title. Don't worry, you'll figure it out. Anyway, it's a lot easier than trying to keep track for the entire 9 months of the season.

Another thing Nascar is doing to make racing more familiar is the use of hand signals by pit road officials. The bugs aren't worked out of this yet, but I've sketched out some possibilities for you. No word yet, but we're hoping the officials will be wearing familiar black and white striped fire suits and helmets so you can find them easily. Although, they nay end up in black and yellow stripes, since those are the colors of the new series sponsor, Nextel. I guess you can get used to referring to the officials as "bees" instead of "zebras", can't you?

Here are some of the possible calls the officials can use to make you comfortable:

OFFSIDES: passing below the yellow line. Applies to Daytona and Talladega only.

PASS INTERFERENCE: blocking an attempted pass on the track.

ENCROACHMENT: pitting outside your box

TOO MANY MEN ON THE FIELD: too many men over pit wall.

UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS: intentionally hitting another car. (Also known as The Kurt Busch rule.)

ROUGHING THE PASSER: spinning out the car that just passed you.

HOLDING: blocking another car in its pit.

INTENTIONAL GROUNDING: putting another car into the wall. (See "Unnecessary Roughness").

ILLEGAL PROCEDURE: leaving the pits with equipment (gas cans, catch cans, etc.)

DELAY OF GAME: deliberately creating a debris caution.

HURRY UP OFFENSE: speeding on pit road.

Nascar is still working on time outs so you can get another beer or make your own pit stops. So, welcome to Nascar Cup racing, guys, custom tailored to make you want it more than football. Enjoy.

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