The view from my couch

Should We Divide NASCAR? Yes! Here's How...
by Desmond Hobson
April 21, 2005

Recently, online author Allison Wagda wrote in one of her columns about the increasing influence of the Nextel Cup in the Busch Series, "Perhaps this is NASCAR's oh-so-gentle way of easing the fan base into a two-series Cup league. Many have wondered how NASCAR (and, of course, International Speedway Corp.) will expand, especially since the schedule is already just about at its limit.

Former online columnist Don Hamm also suggested that the Busch Series come to an end and be folded into the Cup Series. And Racer magazine suggested a split series as early as 1999.

The reason: the increasing number of tracks that want to host races in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, and the inability to accommodate them all. Imagine how well the rumors of possible Cup dates in Canada and Mexico are going over in places like Kentucky, Nashville, Milwaukee and Pikes Peak. Heck, Brian France would move race dates to Europe and Japan if he really wanted to.

Add the increasing resemblance of the Busch Series to Cup racing (if it's not Cup drivers, it's Cup-backed teams like those for which Martin Truex Jr. and Reed Sorenson drive) and maybe it is time to break up the band.

Here, I will present a suggestion for doing just that, based on a combination of Hamm's ideas, Racer's ideas, and my own. The highlights are as follows:

  1. Two new series will develop from the split: the NASCAR Grand National Series in the East and the NASCAR Elite Series in the West.

  2. Each series will have 18-20 races a year, with no more than three races per month.

  3. Drivers from both series will compete together in 10 races: the Daytona 500, the Aaron's 499, the Coca-Cola 600, the Brickyard 400, and a six-race Super Championship Series.

  4. The Super Championship Series will have four permanent sites--Mexico City, with a week off before and after that for logistical reasons, Charlotte, Richmond, and Daytona, which will always be last. The reasons for picking these tracks is to ensure that every type of track is part of the series. Right now, there are no road courses in the current Chase. The other two courses will change from year to year.

  5. Scoring for the GN and Elite Series races will be the same as now, except that a win is worth 200 points instead of 180.

  6. The field for the SCS will consist of the top 15 drivers in the GN and Elite standings, all other race winners regardless of position in the standings, and their respective rookies of the year.

  7. Scoring for the SCS will be as follows: first place--60 points, second place--45, third place--37, fourth place--30, fifth place--25, sixth--23, seventh--21, eighth--19, ninth--17, tenth--15, 11th--14, 12th--13, and so on down to one point for all places 24th and below. The leader of the most laps gets five points, the second-most three, the third-most two, and all others one point each.

  8. Series dates and start times will be staggered so that races don't take place at the same time. Sometimes, a Saturday night race will be followed by a Sunday afternoon race, other times there will be a 1 p.m. ET race in the East and a 5 or 6 p.m. ET race in the West.

  9. Each series will hold races on tracks as follows (exact dates would have to be worked out, as well as one date or two for each): Grand National--Homestead, Atlanta, Darlington, Bristol, Richmond, Martinsville, Pocono (or Staten Island), Loudon, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Dover, Kentucky, Nashville, Rockingham (welcome back!), and North Wilkesboro (ditto). Elite--California, Infineon, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Texas, Kansas, Gateway, Chicago, Milwaukee, Memphis, Pikes Peak, Portland (or replacement in the NW), Oklahoma (rent out Remington Park, a racehorse track, for a dirt track race), Long Beach (OK, a reach, but dream big, guys!)

  10. The two TV partner groups will alternate coverage. Fox/FX will cover the Elite Series (since it's based in L.A.) and NBC/TNT the Grand National Series (since both channels have eastern addresses). The SCS will air on NBC, and the other four shared races will air on Fox.

  11. Both series will share the same common NASCAR rule book, car specifications, and other rules.

  12. The Craftsman Truck Series will not be affected in any way, nor will any of NASCAR's lower-level series.

DRIVERS: Of course, the big question is who would race in each of the new series. Here's my best guess, based on the 2005 Nextel Cup and Busch rosters. I based the decisions on competitive balance and local ties to the drivers/teams:

Grand National
Roush East (Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards), DEI (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Shane Hmiel), RCR (Jeff Burton, Dave Blaney and Clint Bowyer), Bill Davis (Scott Wimmer and Johnny Benson*), MB "family" (Joe Nemechek and Scott Riggs), Hendrick Motorsports (Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers), Joe Gibbs Racing (Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Jason Leffler), Evernham Motorsports (Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson), Penske Racing South (Ryan Newman and Travis Kvapil), Robert Yates Racing (Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler), Wood Brothers (Ricky Rudd), Petty Enterprises (Kyle Petty and Jeff Green), Michael Waltrip Inc. (Waltrip), and Morgan-McClure (Mike Wallace, possibly Eric McClure).

-Roush West (Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle), Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Sterling Marlin, Casey Mears and David Stremme), Kevin Harvick Inc. (Harvick and Ron Hornaday*), a new J. Gordon team (Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson), Labonte Haas CNC (Mike Bliss and Justin Labonte), Rusty Wallace Inc. (R. Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield and Jamie McMurray), Orleans Racing (Brendan Gaughan), ppc Racing (John Andretti, Kenny Wallace and Michel Jourdain), Team Rensi (Jason Keller and Ashton Lewis Jr.), PPI (Bobby Hamilton Jr.), BAM Racing (Ken Schrader), and RGM (Robby Gordon). *Current truck series driver May also compete, league

Stacy Compton, Jon Wood, JJ Yeley, Kevin Lepage, Randy LaJoie, Stanton Barrett, Kirk Shelmerdine, Carl Long, and Shawna Robinson.

Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Post in our forum at www.SpeedCouch.com/forum or e-mail Desmond at my NetZero address.

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