Monday, August 30, 2010

Heat Races In The Camping World Truck Series?

Once and a while, some good information leaks out of the weekly NASCAR Fan Council surveys. These emails to NFC members ask about all kinds of topics and work as a marketing tool for the sanctioning body.

Last week, the eye-catcher was a group of questions about the Camping World Truck Series. Here are some excerpts:

NASCAR is exploring the idea of running some NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races throughout the season using a new “heat race” format in which approximately half of the trucks run a preliminary “heat race” followed by the other half of the trucks running in a separate preliminary “heat race.”

These “heat races” would then be followed by “The Main Event” which would feature a slightly longer race than the two “heat races” and would consist of only a certain number of the best finishing trucks from the first and second “heat races” competing in "The Main Event.”

You may remember that the CWTS had several formats over the years. The cost of having full pit crews capable of doing quick stops for track position is considerable. At one time, the races had a halftime break that let crews pit the trucks with no such pressure.

The survey also asked about the connection between the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series. Here are some of the questions:

Would you like to see a Sprint Cup style Chase format in the truck series?

Are you more interested in the truck races when Sprint Cup drivers are team owners?

Are you more interested when Sprint Cup drivers are racing in the truck series?

Those are pretty good topics to ask about as the truck series continues to morph into the Nationwide dynamic of dominant Sprint Cup Series drivers in the events.

The fan council has proven to be a useful tool and many of NASCAR's senior management types quoted the results from last season as the primary reason for many changes to the sport this year.

Where do you come down on these Camping World Truck Series issues? To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

I'd prefer a format like the Indy cars will use at Texas next year - twin sprint races. Imagine going to Martinsville in the fall and seeing twin 100 lappers instead of one 200 lapper. The action would be amazing!

As for the Sprint Cup involvement, I don't mind seeing teams involved, but the dominance of Sprint Cup drivers (Busch and Harvick) wears thin. Seeing Busch celebrate winning the Truck race at Bristol from the on-board camera was actually sickening. Race fans know when the Sprint Cup race is on, we don't need to see two more races with the same drivers. Please, find a way to limit their involvement without driving them totally away.

Tripp in MS said...

This is an interesting development. I've heard fans on Sirius NASCAR Radio promoting heat races and as a fan of local short tracks I can say that sometimes the heat races are more exciting than the features. Heats would be more visually interesting than single truck qualifying but I'd stop short of saying it's better because you'd lose some of the drama around the go-or-go-homers.

Try heats. It could be fun and it differentiates it from the other two top series. If it doesn't work, they can always go back.

As to the other questions...
Truck Chase?
No. I don't see the point.

Sprint Team Owners?
Yep. I like Kevin Harvick so I'm a Hornaday fan and favor whoever's driving Kevin's other truck.

Sprint Drivers?
I'm of two minds on that question. I like it when a guy like Elliott Sadler straps into a KHI truck and takes the checkers but I'm a little tired of Kyle winning all the time. But that's racing. The best teams cross the finishing line first and the Cup drivers tend to be with the best teams. I root for Bodine, Skinner, Hornaday, Carmichael, Papas and even Narain Karthikeyan. Regardless, I wouldn't ban the Cup or Nationwide drivers from the series. I think the track owners would agree with me.

MRM4 said...

I would like to see a heat race format for the trucks. It would offer some extra excitement. I would actually like to see it for all levels of NASCAR including the Cup series and do away with the top 35.

Track owners are concerned about losing money on NNS races because of cutting back the cup drivers in that series. But if they ran a last chance race or something like that on Saturday after Happy Hour and before the NNS race, fans might come out to see that and stick around for the NNS race.

OSBORNK said...

I think they might use the "heat race" idea for several reasons. The heat races would pay very little and that would eliminate the start and park teams. It would hide short fields since there would be a set number of trucks in the main event (especially if they don't show the heat races in the name of shorter races). They could decrease the total purse without lowering the payout to the better teams.

GinaV24 said...

Well, since I hate the chase format in the Cup series, the last thing I want to do is see that format for determining a champion spread to the truck and Nationwide series. IMO, a bad idea doesn't become a better one by spreading it over a larger area. It's doesn't work like a dilution factor.

I'm not sure how I feel about the heat race idea. I know that's how they do it in other series and I don't know how making that change would change the dynamic of domination by the cup drivers who are playing against lesser funded teams.

Anonymous said...

I really don't see much wrong with the truck series qualifying format. If nothing is broken, don't fix it. NASCAR has always struggled with that. When the changes do not work, NASCAR further edits and changes things, rather than going back to when things worked. What NASCAR needed to do, but failed is:

*) Get off the 1.5 mile tracks except Atlanta and Charlotte and return to short tracks, where the series began. Less money spent on aero and more reliance on brakes, handling & driver ability. Less miles on the motor.

As for the rest of the survey:
- No chase for the trucks!!! Have the NASCAR executives seen the point battles the past several seasons? It has been great. No need to manipulate things here.
- I'm more interested in the Truck series when the Cup drivers are on the opposite side of the continent. Top 25 Cup drivers are limited to a total of 15 starts in the lower series. Busch, Edwards, Harvick have to be forced to move on, while struggling Sadler, Speed, Kvapil & Gilliland can run anytime. The series regulars get more attention, sponsors are now willing to join these teams.

glenc1 said...

I love the *idea* of heat races. But I would want the input of the truck owners as to how this might affect their ability to maintain sponsors. That is what's hurting the series the most right now, when you've got guys like David Starr just hanging on because they've lost theirs. I think the cup drivers as owners bring that sponsorship in, but only for a select few. Does it help the series overall? I *think* so, but again, I'd like to hear it from the other teams. You have to have attendance, and that does help them. But I think a return to more short tracks would benefit them. If they had more arrangements like using ORP near the big tracks...I think the racing is better and the stands don't look so empty as when they're in some massive place. And honestly, I think if the 'diversity' they keep promising can find its way in, both in drivers and in sponsors, you could bring in new fans, which this series does need to do, whether the old timers like it or not. I can't see how they're going to survive otherwise. I like a lot of them, but I don't see the current make up of drivers invigorating the series.

J said...

Hmmm, what is Dave Moody on Sirius Nascar Radio gonna use for an excuse now? Usually when fans call up and ask for heat races, he tells them "thats not the way we do it here." Same with the Chase, people hate it, get rid of it.

LVI56 said...

I kind of like the idea. I'm not sure exactly how it would all work out with points. But I do see one advantage and that's sponsorship of the races. It would be cheaper to pick up a sponsor of a few heat races, and a sponsor for the main event then to get a single sponsor for a full race.
At first I thought this would only work on short tracks, but then I remembered the Duel races for the Daytona 500, those are pretty cool. Another issue might be scheduling, would it take longer to run heats and a main than a full race? I'm sure Speed can work with the idea. Not all tracks would be able to, especially if you have truck-nns-cup triple-headers.

Bryan said...

Would LOVE a heat race format. It forces the drivers to race on edge the entire duration. No lucky gas mileage wins. In my opinion they should have had that road course race yesterday in heat formats. Eliminate the donkeys for the final 15 or so laps there. Good start with the trucks though, although I'm a Tony Stewart fan, the truck series is my favorite series. They race hard, there is always raw emotion, and the race length is usually perfect.

Darcie said...

Truck racing has the some of the best all season. They have the most excitement and the most competition. Having heat races would be fantastic, as long as they have big enough fields to sustain such a thing. I don't want to see 12 or 14 cars in each heat and then only the top 12 running the main event. That's not enough, imho. As far as a Chase in Truck? WHY?????? A vast majority of fans do not like the Chase in the Cup series, so why put this disaster of crap into Truck?

I really think this would be great for Sprint Cup races also. Can you imagine how something like this would turn things upside down? Right now, with the totally idiot Nascar Welfare System, aka the Top 35 rule, the super teams can focus on running race set ups during practice while the poorly financed teams and the go or go homers must focus on qualifying set ups. I've always thought that was inherently unfair. But if they used the heat elimination format to set the starting places, this could really bring more interest into Cup racing.

Anonymous said...

I think I'd like to see heat races and see how it goes.

I can't stand the "it's not a playoff" playoffs so nope.

I watch the Pick 'em Ups for the pure Pick 'em Ups drivers same with Nationwide so having Kyle come in and spank them doesn't get me to tune in.

I don't care who owns the teams but I do love Happy and how he lets Schrader drive from time to time :).

Anonymous said...

What troubles me about the heat races is not really the idea of heat races, per se - but the bigger concept that NASCAR doesn't even know what to do with their product.

Here the truck series has been running for 15+ years, and NASCAR doesn't know on their own what it is about the trucks that appeals or does not appeal to the fans.

If they switched the trucks to heat races, it wouldn't really ruin my weekend or enjoyment of the sport. But given their history, NASCAR is more likely to try heat races for a few years, then switch it again, then throw in some rule changes, then switch things again. There is no continuity.

And it would be bad enough if the tinkering were left to the sport's minor leagues, but now with all the talk of major changes coming to the Chase, as a fan I am left with the overwhelming impression that: 1) NASCAR doesn't know what fans want, 2) NASCAR doesn't care about continuity, 3) NASCAR doesn't even understand the products they sanction.

As interesting as heat races sound (and I admit, they are one of the few good suggestions I have heard from the NASCAR brass), I would actually vote against heat races... just because I want everything to stay the way it is and stop all the constant changing, altering, tinkering, and adjusting.

NASCAR treats its product like a bad crew chief who makes unnecessary changes every pitstop, worsens the car each time, and then insists in post-race interviews how much better they are making things - despite the fact that the car is dropping further and further into the field.

Palmetto said...

I'd love to see heat races at all levels. Like LV126 said, they hold heat races for the Daytona 500. I'd like to see it replace the 'Top 35'. Stick with the policy of not awarding points for qualifying.

I don't like the Chase at the Cup level; no reason I should like it in any other series.

I don't care much whether Cup drivers are Truck owners, drivers, or both. I enjoy the Truck series because it has an 'old school' feel to it - drive like heck and bring back the steering wheel!

I do agree that something does need to be done regarding Cup drivers participating in other series at the expense of those who are competing for championships. On the other hand, there are so many 'start and park' teams in CWTS and NWS that it's obvious the Cup drivers aren't costing anyone a starting spot. Let them run for prize money but limit a driver to competing for only a single championship.

Racing Fool said...

Qualifying a race car in NASCAR top 3 series is like watching paint dry. It is also no longer a playing field leveler now that the fastest may not even make the race. That was one of the first steps to mess up something that wasn't broke. YES! Have Heat races in all series and turn the heat back on into NASCAR, It's getting a little cold lately.

Anonymous said...

Heat races on large tracks would be more boring than the races are. I am with DW on moving the trucks to the small tracks for all the reasons he stated. The problem with cup drivers in the two lower series is the equipment difference. Not much of a race when their equipment is so much better than the regular truck or nationwide drivers. MC

Bill in GA said...

Great to know that some "outside the box" thinking is actually going on. The truck series is the right place to try out some ideas that could have implications for all of NASCAR's top series. The only concern is how long the truck series will be around to serve as the test bed for these ideas if they don't work. The biggest problem will be what cost (financially) any of the changes impose on the participating truck teams, competing for the lowest purse structure of all 3 (Cup, NW, CW) touring series.

Until (or if) NASCAR establishes a firm and fair policy about "raiders" from Cup dropping in to NNS or NCWTS, the issue is moot.

The template I find worth considering is based partially on looking back at the original Truck series format--2 "sprint" races, basically. Having no pit stops may or may not be something the greatest number of followers of NASCAR would accept, but the cost of the structure to support pitting the way it's done now demands either a significant increase in purse structure....and that's not going to happen, unless half the field is made up of Cup drivers. So, reverse the thinking and create a format for the 3 touring series that REQUIRES participation by "X" number of Cup drivers in designated NW & CW events, and purse structures that benefit ALL participants in each case. It may or may not mean that Truck series drivers/teams finish in the back half of the field--there are some pretty fair CW truck drivers that will stand up to the test.

Heat races--OK
"Sprint" races--OK (I liked the Pocono event for it's brevity and intensity--don't lengthen it next year, run 2 even shorter events)

The truck series needs a better purse structure, first & foremost, to be "forced" to race on tracks 1.5 miles & larger--the cost to bring a top-tier truck team to a race can't be much less than that of a NW, let alone Cup team.

Bill in GA said...

I had more to say, but ran out of room! Some of it is a digression from the topic--just thinking out loud!

Other technology matters--I'm a big Australian V8 Supercars fan, and I would really like to see one NASCAR series become a "test bed" to take some of the elements of both the V8SC cars and how V8SC events are conducted and figure a way to implement them into NASCAR.

This is important going into the future, when "relevance" for the participating manufacturers finally gets addressed. Things like fuel injection--promised, but with no clear path for implementation (that the public is aware of, anyway), stock body shapes, use of air jacks (think of it as a safety move)--granted, the dominance of oval races in NASCAR puts some other issues in higher priority, or relegates some (or all) of what I've said to the dumpster before it's even tried.

A race format comprised of multiple events potentially becomes a problem when a crash situation destroys a car/truck, making it not possible to participate in all events that would make up a full race weekend. Crash scenarios are different in oval and road racing, typically, but events like the Montreal NW race last weekend show how easy it is to kill a car on a road course, too--some of the problems being course/design-related (when Montreal was built, it's not likely that stock cars were ever considered as a possibility to race there), and some being lack of experience on the part of participants with limited or no road racing beyond go-karts. The current "push" seems to be to have Cup go to Montreal to race--I think it would be a disaster, personally. If another road course is to become part of NSCS, make it Road America--or just don't bother.

Too many facets to the problem to take on all at once--just had to get some things off my chest.

Vicky D said...

I don't know how heat races would work out so I don't know whether it's a good idea or not. I would like to see the trucks racing at smaller tracks although we love going up to Ft. Worth and watching them and either standalone races or with the NW or Indy teams. No Chase for the trucks either that I think that would be a disaster as I hate the cup Chase. I found Nascar's decision last year to have the trucks pit twice to save money was a bad idea. I'm sure there are other issues but I can't remember right now.

Roland said...

The Trucks really need to get away from the cup tracks and get back to short tracks. The races at Chicago, Kansas, and Nashville are mind numbing. Ever since the tapered spacer was put on the motors it has killed the racing on intermediate tracks.

Think of the Truck Series this way, the Cup series is the perverbial Major League of Nascar, with Nationwide being the AAA and Trucks being AA. You see a lot of AAA and AA baseball teams not in major markets, but in much smaller markets (i.e. Asheville NC, Greenville SC). The point of these divisions are not only to provide a proving ground for up and coming players, but to serve those smaller markets with baseball. You cant put a MLB team in Asheville, but the AA team works great.

So with the Trucks being the AA of Nascar, its purpose is to not only develop drivers, but to serve the smaller markets that dont have Cup dates. This is why the trucks need to race at places like Myrtle Beach or Greenville Pickens or Stafford. Now dont get me wrong the Trucks do need to race with the Cup series several times a year. The races at Texas, Daytona, Talladega, Martinsville, and Charlotte draw good crowds and have great racing. But there needs to be a balance of big market intermediate tracks and small market short tracks.

Im with Tripp in MS in this one, I like seeing SOME cup drivers in the race, but I am so sick of Kyle Busch. Its incredible unfair to the non cup drivers to come down to the trucks and nationwide and steal money and glory from the people who really deserve it. All Kyle is doing is feeding his massive ego. Im perfectly ok with drivers running a handful of races in both series, even Kyle, but to do it at the rate Kyle is is just not fair to the drivers who need this series.

Ok so heat races? Im in. Sounds like a great idea. Love to see it on those boring 1.5 mile tracks maybe it would spice up the competition!

And one more thing. Whoever sets the minimum speed for the Truck Races is an idiot. Norm Benning runs so slow hes actually putting his fellow competitors at risk. Norm has just as much right as anyone to race, but if your 7 seconds off the leader, your a safety hazard. And im not trying to pick on Norm because theres more than 1 that are like this.

David said...

NASCAR has do to something to help the health of this series. It's best days were with an unlimited GWC format, racing on short tracks around the nation with maybe 5 or 6 races on mile and a half venues or larger, now with about half the schedule being downforce racetracks the big budget teams have just set themselves apart and even those teams are in desperate ways.

This is an interesting format to be proposed but I don't feel it is an answer to what is the main issue and that is the cost of racing at this level vs. what you can make back. Teams just cant convince someone to put 5 million dollars behind a truck team for a 25 race schedule. Even Kyle Busch is struggling to find sponsorship and for a guy who has won his fair share of truck races this year that is shocking.

As we've talked about on here in the past, getting trucks back to the short tracks and roots of what made this series popular, making the mile and a halfs more of a toss up then a year long preparation would help a great deal I believe.

As with the other 2 touring series, the gap between haves and have nots has grown so large you can count on 1 hand who is really legitimately capable of winning a Truck race when 8 years ago you could rattle off 10 names easily.