Monday, August 25, 2008

"Starting And Parking" In The Nationwide Series


Please click here for a direct link to a great article on the "start and park" teams currently haunting the Nationwide Series. Many TDP readers asked me to address this issue after the ESPN coverage deliberately avoided mentioning that ten cars left the race when the rain came in Montreal. That is driver Morgan Shepherd roller-skating above as he always has for exercise.

The NASCAR Insiders talk plainly about the reality of "starting and parking" and why it has taken hold on the Nationwide Series tour this year. Please leave them comments on that issue and feel free to address the TV issues on this post.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.

29 comments:

tom in dayton said...

Mr. D:
I understand the "start & park" concept in the lower series. Several times, in earlier columns, you've made mention of the Sprint Cup/TV situation that is likely to occur after the Chase begins.
Could you explain the TV contract aspect as it pertains to the Sprint Cup series?
Thanks as always...

cvt said...

JD,interesting that you posted this link. Care to comment on my speculation that the 43 car count is written into the tv contract with NASCAR, at least for Cup?

Daly Planet Editor said...

cvt,

There has always been the understanding that the Cup Series would put a full field on the track for a national TV race.

This season, between the economy and the limited number of COT's available to small teams, the talk has been about whether or not 43 will show-up after Richmond.

Currently, there are about 35 teams in the NCTS and in the Nationwide Series far fewer. Companion races feature the Cup cross-overs, and stand-alone races feature the "start and park" set.

After The Chase begins, it should be interesting to see who goes to New Hampshire and Kansas and if anyone suspends operations until 2009. Teams do not have an obligation to show-up, and those far out of the top 35 might just take a break.

If you saw Johnny Sauter in the FUBAR Dodge and Sterling Marlin in the casino car, you understand how interesting the rest of this season is going to be.

What happens if Yates, the Pettys and the Wood Brothers decide to re-group for next season after Richmond?

This point was originally sent to me by a TV guy who wondered about the contract. As you may know, the person who negotiated the current TV deal has left NASCAR and is working on an Internet project in LA.

It should be interesting to look at the California Speedway entry list for both races once it is posted.

JD

red said...

jd? is it an "understanding" or a contractual obligation? sounds as if it's a non-binding "gentleman's agreement" to put 43 cars in the field. if so, we easily could see fewer cup cars on the track after richmond.

(and why would the networks care if 43 cars showed up as opposed to, oh, say, 35? as long as the pre-conceived storyline teams are represented each week, they should be fine. it's not as if they actually cover the guys from about 20 on back on a regular basis, is it?)

cvt said...

JD, your point about there not being any obligation to show up raises an interesting question. With the #18 car locked into the Chase, what's to keep JGR from choosing to skip Fontana and Richmond (notwithstanding contractual sponsor obligations)and give their team some time-off, test, and return at Loudon locked & loaded?

It's unlike F1 where teams contractually commit to appear at races, receive travel money etc. But that would require NASCAR to commit to the f-word.

red said...

hey cvt? i'm just guessing here but i'm pretty sure you're not meaning the same f-word i'm thinking, are you?!? maybe you could clarify for me? 'cause otherwise, we have to fine you at least $25,000 and 25 points . . .

Daly Planet Editor said...

The fulltime teams have sponsors who obligate them to participate and that will never be an issue.

It is the backmarkers and the teams struggling for dollars who have to think seriously about what the final nine races will get for them vs. the cost.

Kansas and Loudon are the longest tows, so it should be interesting to see who shows up.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

that would be "franchise" red...

cvt said...

red, I mean franchise, but NASCAR might still want to fine me!

ts said...

I would think if you were in the Top 35 you would finish the season: for any hope of sponsorship for 2009, being in the Daytona 500 would be mandatory. And if Petty or Woods would stop showing up for races, teams like Yates, or Ganassi who are having cash issues – they would be tripping over each other to S & P a Cup race.

In my eyes, will we have 43 full time teams in 2009?

stricklinfan82 said...

Thanks for the article JD. I don't blame any of those guys for doing it, it's obviously easy money. I'd still like to see NASCAR do something to stop it though. NASCAR doesn't let teams change engines or roll out their backup cars unless they can prove jusitifiable cause to the inspectors. Similarly, when a car falls out of a race they should have to show that there is a legitimate problem with the car. If they can't then they shouldn't receive points or prize money. Start-and-park can be harmless when the field isn't full but when more than 43 cars show up I hate to see legitimate teams that would have run that whole race go home in favor of start-and-park cars, especially those that have qualifying exemptions for being in the top 30 in owner's points and didn't even have to "earn" a starting spot on that race weekend.

JD, I still think all the talk about Cup fields being less than 43 cars is much ado about nothing personally. Other than the postponed fall 2001 New Hampshire race (where the starting lineup was set by points as of 9/11 and one team folded between then and the actual running of the race in November) a Cup race hasn't run with a short field since the fall of 1993 at Dover. There are 43 regular teams right now, and the Front Row Team that shows up almost every week. Even if some of those full-time teams (and it would have to be ones between 36th and 44th in points) I guarantee you the fields will still be full. The second a preliminary entry list with less than 43 cars is released teams like Furniture Row and Front Row will instantly roll out backup cars to start-and-park and collect the very large paychecks, or part-time guys like Stanton Barrett or James Finch will instantly file late entries to fill the field. Even if none of those happen there are still guys like Kirk Shelmerdine and Norm Benning out there that have a few CoT's sitting around that could easily start if necessary.

2004 was as bad as it ever got in recent years, with only 35 teams running the whole schedule (any newer fans that wondered where the top 35 number came from that's it, the full-time car count in '04). If they still managed to fill the field for every race that year I have no doubt they will still fill the field this year if the full-time car count drops below 43.

Daly Planet Editor said...

red,

It would have been short at MIS without a couple of "late adds."

We are just trying to track this process, not affect it.

Ever since the Montreal mess on TV it has become something to watch.

JD

stricklinfan82 said...

cvt said...
JD, your point about there not being any obligation to show up raises an interesting question. With the #18 car locked into the Chase, what's to keep JGR from choosing to skip Fontana and Richmond (notwithstanding contractual sponsor obligations)and give their team some time-off, test, and return at Loudon locked & loaded?

It's unlike F1 where teams contractually commit to appear at races, receive travel money etc. But that would require NASCAR to commit to the f-word.

August 25, 2008 1:42 PM


cvt,

NASCAR has several 'plans' that award appearance money to the teams that run every race. Those higher in points receive the most money and those lower receive less. I think the cut-off is around 30th or 35th unless something has changed in recent years. They also have the Winner's Circle program that awards the winningest teams in the sport with even more appearance money. The second one of those teams didn't show up for a race they would lose their appearance money and be off those plans.

That's why at Bristol, for example, Jeff Burton won more money by finishing 42nd than David Ragan did for finishing 10th.

Besides the money, in Kyle Busch's case there are still 10 bonus points out there for winning at California and Richmond that I'm sure will keep them motivated to show up.

Richard in N.C. said...

The picture of Morgan Shepherd is very interesting. Despite being 67 and still competing, he gets almost no attention from the media, especially the national media, even though he finished in the top 26 at both Watkins Glen and Michigan. I believe this again demonstrates the bias of the media. Even though the story of a 67 year old still occasionally being competitive and highly respected in the garage should be of some interest, his strong religious convictions are something the media abhors, or at least is scared to have to address.

red said...

daly planet editor said...
"red,

It would have been short at MIS without a couple of "late adds."

We are just trying to track this process, not affect it.

Ever since the Montreal mess on TV it has become something to watch"

i'm with you there. i'm just trying to figure out whether this is part of the legal contract between nascar and the networks, something that, say, espn can demand from nascar.

i know why we're at 43 cars nowadays versus the 50+ sometimes "back in the day" but i'm wondering how hard and fast this is from the networks' end of the business. is the "drive for 43" mostly coming from nascar or from the tv partners? who, if anyone, would be "penalized" if fewer than 43 showed up to qualify?

cvt said...

Richard in N.C. said...

I believe this again demonstrates the bias of the media. Even though the story of a 67 year old still occasionally being competitive and highly respected in the garage should be of some interest, his strong religious convictions are something the media abhors, or at least is scared to have to address.


I'd be the last person to be accused of carrying water for the media, but this misses the mark entirely.

I saw a nice piece on a pre-race show about him, getting tires bought for him by DJ and Harvick, with first-rate close-ups of the hood on his car.And can you name one other sport that covers the pre-game invocation live?

Richard in N.C. said...

I believe there is a difference in carrying the invocation and actually talking about or to a man racing in part to spread his religious beliefs. I've been a racing fan long enough to remember Morgan in his prime. What really caught my attention was being unable to find any mention of how Morgan did at the Glen (even though I believe he finished just barely 1 lap down) or at Michigan. As I recall, I believe Wendy V. did do a piece on Morgan last year on Race Day.

allisong said...

Not sure what your issue is with TV not mentioning why those cars didn't finish the race in Montreal. You know, I know, and everyone knows they were S&P cars. Were the pit reporters supposed to go find the driver and his one mechanic loading the car up and ask them what was the reason they were out? LOL!

Funny thing, I distinctly remember hearing Randy LaJoie at a standalone NW race use the phrase "valet driving" while the starting line up was being shown. I believe something must have been said to him from higher-up because at the next race, Montreal, while the end of the line up was showing, Rusty said "I know not many people may have heard of these guys, but they are here to WIN THIS RACE, by golly!" Had to laugh at that.

red said...

richard in nc: i don't believe it has to do with morgan's religious beliefs as much as the reality that he's "not the story" for the networks. the bias isn't his age or beliefs: it's that he doesn't have the equipment to run with "the big boys" anymore. more's the shame.

harvick and stewart (and probably others i can't recall) have all stepped forward to help shepherd and that's been written about. and didn't he run God as a sponsor on the hood of the car for a bit? that was a classic piece of marketing he did, for sure.

i agree that his is one of the many stories that i'd like to see covered and updated each week. instead, we get the "same old, same old" and only rarely a storyline that speaks to the history of our sport. morgan shepherd was, and is, part of that history -- and so are the woods brothers and yates racing and bam and all the rest who we don't hear about.

Richard in N.C. said...

red- I guess it's just one of those days to be crotchedy. I really thought Morgan deserved some recognition for how well he ran at Watkins Glen and was real disappointed that I never could find any mention of what he did. As I recall he parked unusually early even for him in Canada - I believe when the race was red flagged for rain modifications - and I assumed it was because he figured he had too much risk of a major loss (wreck) running in the rain. Frequently he runs with "Racing for Jesus" on the hood if he can't get any sponsorship.

Bill H said...

For some reason or another I thought that picture was a sky diver landing and not someone on roller skates.

BillWebz

Gymmie said...

I agree that it's the fact that Mr. Morgan is not the story and nothing to do with his beliefs. If a 20-something phenom were winning and running up front in the car they'd be all over it.

Dot said...

How far in advance do you have to enter the upcoming race? Do you know how many are going to enter? I know there is an entry fee, but I don't know how much it is. If a car enters post entry, no points are awarded. NASCAR should rethink this and be grateful to get a full field. If it comes to that. At least until the economy picks up.

If I were a car owner w/o sponorship, I would think twice before entering a race especially this late in the season. (read Chase). Even more so if there is a track far away. As a sponsor, I sure wouldn't want my product not to be mentioned if my driver is not one of the golden boys. Now we know why Juablo was holding up the leaders at Bristol, TV time.

Daly Planet Editor said...

bill,

If you go to a race, you can see Morgan roller-skate the track. Its a sight.

dot,

There are deadlines for entry for every race in all three series. There are also non-refundable entry fees for them.

JD

Anonymous said...

Richard in N.C. - Actually, Morgan always runs the "Racing for Jesus" on the hood of his car ... He'll sell the A-posts, bumper cover and (I think) the deck lid to sponsors, but they have to agree to those spots and NOT demand the hood ...

ESPN got called on the carpet by Tony Stewart after the April Nationwide race at Talladega because Morgan finished in the top 15 and ESPN had blown him off as a S&P team ... Tony didn't care where he himself had finished, but was more concerned/impressed that Morgan got the top 15 ... Had the race gone more laps, with the unpredictability of RP racing, Morgan could've won the race ...

Anonymous said...

SPEED is no different than ESPN ... SPEED doesn't exactly pay much attention to the S&P teams either ...

Though, they don't always give adequate coverage to legit teams either ... They tend to focus way too much of the coverage on a handful of teams ...

This was quite obvious during the telecast of Wednesday's Truck race ... They failed to inform the viewers what happened to teams that were in the garage & eventually withdrew from the race ...

One team in particular was that of CHS Motorsports' driver Tayler Malsam ... Tayler was the first driver mentioned in the "SPEED Spotlight Driver" and was Ray Dunlap's pick ... Ray's mic had issues and we didn't hear all of what he was saying about Tayler & the team ... Though we did learn that CHS had bought their trucks from GEM ...

About lap 53, Tayler was assisted into the wall by Matt Crafton ... Both had to go to the garage ... SPEED never bothered to find out what exactly happened to cause the wreck (They assumed, right after the wreck), that it was a tire issue with Tayler's truck) ... They told us when Crafton came back onto the track, but we never heard WHY Tayler's team had withdrawn the truck from the race ...

This appears to be SPEED assuming that Tayler was a S&P team who weren't going to run the whole race ... But, that's WRONG ... Tayler wanted to run the WHOLE race, but there was structural damage that they just couldn't fix & had to withdraw the truck from the race ...

This was Tayler's NASCAR debut ... CHS is going to run Tayler in the Truck series full-time next year ... The team is currently running Tayler full-time this season in the ARCA series under the Cunningham Motorsports banner with sponsorship from Dodge Development ... Cunningham also recently signed a deal with Penske to be a driver development team ...


I guess I should be thankful that they at least spelled his name correctly in the ticker & graphics ... Though, they did get his hometown wrong as they said it was "Seattle" when he's actually from Sammamish, but lives in Mill Creek (of the Little League World Series fame) ...



My point is this ... The networks need to cover ALL of the drivers fairly ... Not just the precious few who actually have a shot at winning the race ... Because you NEVER know what might happen and who could win ... Look at the results of the 2003 Busch race at 'Dega and you'll find that Tina Gordon got a top 10 finish & she was hardly given any tv coverage for that ...

bowlalpo said...

PRN interviewed Kevin Lepage who qualified (IIRC) 13th for the Food City 250, and Kevin said for everyone to hear, "I don't know how many laps I'll run; you can't see it but the car is blank." I don't know if he S&P'd but he instantly dropped like a rock and finished 42nd.

The team probably had no crew but it was a shame that the good qualifying effort was for nothing but a small paycheck. I'd rather see 28 competitive cars than 43-with-10-that-S&P.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:49AM,

Are you saying there are "start and park" teams in the NCTS?

I checked on this before writing this column and basically was told that there is not enough money for that practice and NASCAR is happy to go with a short field.

The NCTS races have between 33 and 37 Trucks normally, so I have a hard time understanding who might feel it was worthwhile to "start and park."

SPEED heard it from us nice and loud about why and how several of the stories of the recent NCTS race were ignored once the racing began.

Basically, the sixteen second laps at Bristol made it tough and SPEED only has the budget for two pit reporters. That makes it almost impossible to get someone to the garage. This is something we have been complaining about for two years now.

Thanks for the comment.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

Anonymous 7:20AM- Thanks. I did not know "Racing for Jesus" was still on the hood when Morgan has sponsorship. I listened to the race on the radio when he finished in the top 15 (13th?) and one of the first things Tony said when he was interviewed was how great it was how well Morgan ran, and Tony thought he'd finished 10th. I still think the story of a 67 year old holding his own deserves more attention - and in qualifying or practice in the last 2 weeks someone did mention that Morgan was racing before many competitors were born.

JD- Thanks for the picture.