Sunday, August 19, 2012

NASCAR's Start And Park Weekend

This weekend features two races on Saturday and one on Sunday. While the Chase is only weeks away for the Sprint Cup Series teams, the real theme of this big weekend for all three top series is starting and parking. As our friends at All Left Turns documented in this picture, only a tool box is needed on pit road for a start and park team.

Click here to review a Car and Driver article by Bob Zeller called "The Quitting Game." The story talks about the start and park teams that were operating back in 2008 and how NASCAR squelches any mention of this reality.

Click here to see FOX/SPEED's Larry McReynolds offer to then Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo his reasons why teams start and park. McReynolds contends that these teams really want to race and also offer jobs to those who would otherwise be unemployed without the weekend of qualifying, starting and parking.

Click here to read Eddie Gossage's comments in 2010 that start and park teams in the Sprint Cup Series are literally stealing money from the sport and adding nothing to the show. Gossage further stated that NASCAR had an obligation to stop this practice.

Here are the starting grids for this weekend from the Jayski website:

Click here to see the Sprint Cup Series starters. Note the cars highlighted in red.

Click here to see the Nationwide Series starters. Note the cars with the asterisk next to the entry.

Click here to see the Camping World Truck Series field. Of the 35 entries, note the teams with the asterisk.

In other professional sports on national television, the live telecasts document the reality on the field of play. Every injury, penalty and decision is reviewed, discussed and often replayed. In NASCAR the reality is the opposite. Television has somehow morphed into becoming part of the marketing arm of the sport.

This weekend, keep an eye on all three races and see how the different TV teams choose to deal with the start and park issue. The difference between reporting what is actually happening in the race as a whole and making a conscious decision to exclude relaying information about start and park teams certainly is interesting to watch.

Happy to have your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.


Lewis(Coffeeshop42) said...

Certainly an eye opening column,you are right about NASCAR having an obligation to do something about it.I think every car in the field should be mentioned during a telecast,even including start and parks.As for my opinion on start and parks themselves,that will just have to wait.Well done JD.

Buschseries61 said...

JD, the asterisk just means the teams are not locked in. Although most of the S&P teams are not locked in, some that will park are locked in. The S&P thing was a problem a handful of years ago because teams that were planning on racing the distance were being bumped out by cars with full qualifying setup and no intention to race. Now with the economy and the poor state of NASCAR, these teams are just helping to fill the field at this point.

The worst parking will be in Michigan this weekend. It’s not too bad in Montreal for the Nationwide guys. Meet the Parkers:

Michigan Truck race S&P’s: (9 S&Ps / 35 Starters)

0 TJ Bell – Filling the short field & $ for the self-sponsored #10

07 Johnny Chapman – Waiting for sponsorship

5 Scott Riggs – Another team filling in for the usual 5 team that has taken 2 races off. The ‘attempt’ keeps the #5 locked in

25 Stephen Leicht – Filling the short field

27 Brandon Knupp – Waiting for sponsorship

38 Chris Jones – Filling the short field

74 Mike Harmon – Filling the short field

75 Josh Wise – Filling the short field

93 Dennis Setzer - $ for the unsponsored #39 of Ryan Sieg

Michigan Cup race S&P’s: (8 S&Ps / 43 Starters)

19 Jason Leffler – The former MSRP & PRISM Motorsports co-owner Randy Humphrey (remember the 90 & 91 in the Nationwide series that almost never raced? That’s him!) teamed with Mark Smith, owner of the Tri-Star Motorsports team in the Nationwide series. I assume this pays for the unsponsored #44 of Mike Bliss in the Nationwide series.

23 Scott Riggs – Pays for Richardson’s part-time Nationwide series team

26 Josh Wise – Pays for the #34 & #38 when they have no sponsorship. Those Taco Bell / Long John Silvers stickers on the #34 & #38 are not paying sponsors, the owner Bob Jenkins owns some Yum Foods chains. It’s his own $ going into the team most of the time.

30 David Stremme – Waiting for sponsorship

36 Dave Blaney – Waiting for sponsorship

87 Joe Nemechek – Pays for his Nationwide series team

91 Reed Sorenson – See the 19 of Leffler

98 Mike Skinner – The other former owner of MSRP & PRISM Motorsports, Phil Parsons. They sometimes run with sponsorship, although Mike Skinner parked the car at Pocono with a sponsor.

Montreal Nationwide Series S&P’s: (6 S&Ps / 43 starters)

10 Jeff Green – Paying for the unsponsored #44 of Mike Bliss

15 Chris Cook – Filling the field

39 Tim Andrews – Didn’t get a $pay$ driver this weekend

42 Blake Koch – Park car 1 for Curtis Key paying for the unsponsored #40 of Erik Darnell

46 Chase Miller – Park car 2 for Curtis Key paying for the #40

47 Matt DiBenedetto – Park car 3 for Curtis Key paying for the #40

Paul said...

Occasionally on NASCAR RaceHub, Steve Byrnes will get asked why tv networks only highlight the cars running up front and rarely discuss the smaller teams that are having good races. His answer is that while other sports have one ball on the field, NASCAR has 43 footballs and the camera can't focus in on all of them at one time. While he has a point, it's still no excuse that the production team opts not to showcase the 15-20 other footballs on the field, which I think is primarily because their sponsors can't afford to buy ad time. For the Nationwide Series, it's an even greater number. And if you're a start and park team, you can forget about it.

I'm often frustrated during practice and qualifying when the S&P teams hit the track and are shown on camera because the announcers are either having a discussion on somebody else or they have nothing to say. One example is when they show Jeff Green, who drives the No. 10 S&P entry in the Nationwide Series. Despite being a former champion in the series and won a lot of races back in the day, even he brings silence to the announce booth. So it's not that the announcers have nothing to say because the drivers are relative unknowns, they're saying nothing because they don't want to promote this S&P behavior.

Thankfully, I've been a fan for a number of years and have a good understanding as to why these teams have to S&P. But I hate to imagine that some younger fans look at drivers like Johnny Chapman or Mike Harmon and think "Wow, that guy's out of the race by lap 10 every week. He must suck." It's not their fault that they think that way; the people that have the chance to teach these fans why these S&P teams do what they do seem hesitant to do so.

I just wish they would casually mention how the "No. 10 start and parks so that the No. 44 can run the whole race," or how the "No. 13 is planning to start and park this week so that it has the funds to run the distance next week." Just something like that. They don't have to write a news story every week documenting which teams are planning to S&P, but it would be nice if they could just mention that they S&P out of necessity, not out of desire.

It's just a shame because this week we'll probably have around 18 cars start and park throughout all 3 major series, and not one of them will get an on-air mention of when they retire from the race, other than the occasional reviewing of which cars are out of the race during caution periods. Plus it's bad for those teams because if they can't get screen time, why would sponsors want to team up with them?

ESPN and SPEED have a great opportunity to help out these teams with some on-air mentions and commentary, but are doing their best to stay out of it.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the people not on twitter or Facebook but love to read you blog. Don't comment often but just wanted you to know many out here that read but not comment. I would join in during the races but not on twitter.

On start and parks......why do they pay them so much just to run a few laps? Maybe it can help get some teams get started but does not seem to help many go full time.

I guess as long as they pay that much they will continue to start and park.


Mike in Pittsburgh said...

Easy fix, make them all buy enough tires for the whole race, and let the cars that don't make the race go on when one of the S&P cars come off.

One of those cars puts in more laps and puts one of the others out of the top 43 no money.

It will at least make the race to the garage take longer like when NASCAR was tearing down the first car out every week.

It's sad listening to the NASCAR officials channel calling all the numbers that are going to the garage so early in the race.

Welcome back from vacation JD

Sally said...

While I'm not thrilled with the S & P's, it really only is a problem for me when they take a spot from a team that will try to run the entire race. If there was a way to prioritize, having the S & P's to 'fill the field' wouldn't be a problem for me.

James said...

There should be a minimum speed for all practicesessiond and qualifying.
A real speed not a speed set so my grandmother can make the show.
Show me one start and park team that has upped their game rub in the top 20 on a regular basis. Not in the last 10 years or more.
There's not one.
They do not bring value to my ticket purchases

of course they are going to defend their spoRt.
it's their livelihood

Anonymous said...

S&P's have never bothered me. My only expectaion of them is that they don't get in the way and don't affect the outcome of the race. I don't recall where they have ever done that . Nascar occaisonally reports who has wrecked the most for the season. Three or four years ago, Sam Hornish and David Stremme had the worst records in Cup. Hornish was one of the worst twice. Neither were S&P'ers. My problem with those guys is that they bring out cautions and often put down debris that causes cut tires,etc when the racing resumes.

dawg said...

James Finch, & Joe Ruttman, are my S & P heroes.
Showing up without even a pit crew.

NASCAR black flagged them on the first lap.

They pulled in, mission accomplished.

17972 B. C. said...

From the broadcast standpoint i honestly have no opinion either way if the announcing crew tells me or not.The ticker tells the story on who went out early, veteran fans know the story, new fans probably really do not care about S&P.
Now if i were in charge, I would make a team submit an over the wall roster for the race, require all of them to be at the track on raceday with their hardcards, to prove they are real, and make them be in the stall until the car leaves the race.No crew, no pay. I would shorten NNS and NSCS fields to 40 cars, pay 36-40 less than now, and take 40-43 money and spread it in the 30-35 range, not move it up top.Not perfect i know, but probably an improvement. Occasionally s&p plan does work, Scott Speed at the Glen was a team that took s&p cash to target a race and was competitive when they raced.

Jonathan said...

Marty Reid always use to mention the start and parks. Honestly I could care less it is what it is. my question is what if anything will be done to stop this in the future? Any ideals everyone im curious

Anonymous said...

There are teams that start and park occasionally (#13) so that they can be competitive the rest of the time. Also, you can scan teams in positions 15-25 that reuse tires in some races and go full bore in other races. NASCAR is in trouble. There aren't more than 15 teams that can win unless there is a massive wreck. This was true back in the 60s and even in the 80s, but for a while as many as 30 teams could win. Is the golden age over or are we recycling?

John in Chico said...

This must be a start and park weekend for SpeedTV too.
The trucks are running and no Race Buddy.
Just mail it in.

Lemon Lyman said...

If you are moderating the comments on this blog, aren't you essentially doing the same thing as the networks? Filtering the channel of information and commentary to your preference.

Hopefully the networks can prove this all wrong. The next time Dale Jr. takes the lead, they can be showing the garage area. So to satisfy the Scott Riggs fans as to why on lap 9 he called it a day.

Dot said...

I still think nascar wants the S&P's in the race every week. They act as a cushion for the regulars not to finish below 37th if they have a wreck or mechanical issue. Danica finishing 43rd last week was a rare instance.

I wonder what happens next year when the top 35 rule goes away.

Anonymous said...

Why should NASCAR stop the start and park teams? Many of them can't afford to run the entire race since they don't have a sponsor. If it weren't for the S&P teams, the field would not be full with 35 or 43 cars. That means the truck series would only have approx. 26 trucks starting the races.

Tommy Baldwin did it for a few seasons and was able to save enough to run entire races down the road. S&P teams actually benefit the sport.

fbu1 said...

Why would any racing fan feel offended by, for example, Tommy Baldwin choosing to S&P an unsponsored Dave Blaney for a race. He's saving his stuff for the next race with perhaps an Ollie's or Seal Wrap on the hood. That does not spoil the party for the mega teams and their fans. Don't forget that race attempts count when qualifying is rained out. Strategic S&P by small teams is not cynical, it's good business in a cutthroat environment. (BTW, has anybody noticed that Golden Coral has been poached away from TBR by TV & NASCAR?) NASCAR's constant tweaking of the rules makes it tough enough for the big teams to keep up, and puts the smaller teams in a nearly impossible financial position. The last time I looked, corporate sponsors are getting harder to find. Not mentioning the smaller teams on TV makes it even harder for them to survive without using a S&P strategy.

One benefit from S&P teams is that drivers that are looking for their big break are getting seat time. It was qualifying S&P cars that earned Landon Cassill rides in the 51 & 83. Being part of the racing weekend keeps ambitious drivers in the conversation for job openings. Not every driver has daddy's money to buy a ride. The prize money pays the overhead for the weekend and DOES keep a number of people employed. If a S&P team does not affect the outcome of a race in a negative way, why should anybody care?

If one takes Brian France's optimism about the future of NASCAR seriously, (I keep thinking about his vision of glass cockpits), having only 36 or so cars show up for a 43 car race is an embarrassing advance towards the rear. The S&P's maintain the illusion that NASCAR is progressing under BF's guidance.


The Loose Wheel said...

Buschseries, you are the man. What he said.

Anonymous said...

Can't run the whole race >> no tv exposure >> no visibility >> no sponsors >> no money to run the whole race.

Vicious circle.

Maybe the should be forced to make it to lap xxx or there's no payout?

Anonymous said...

You cant really apprecaite ther absurdity of the "Start & Parks" until you are actually at a race and see the traffic jam getting into the garage at lap 5. Somehow that scene never makes it on the TV broadcast hahaha

Colorado said...

Goodyear can help out with this scenario as well. Don't charge for the tire sets, and Sunoco can give each team two free tank fulls. Then the S &P 's can run the whole race, with little or no cost to them. It won't kill Goodyear or Sunoco to do this about 5 times a year.

Anonymous said...

After a race is over, I like to go to Jayski and check the race results page. I scroll down to the bottom to see what reasons are given for the S&P crowd dropping out of the race. Brakes, transmission, suspension, rear gear, engine, electrical, etc. are all horribly unreliable on these cars. My personal favorite is "Vibration".

Checking the reasons is always good for a laugh. As a personal opinion, I don't blame the teams. They're staying within the rules as far as I know. The real damage and blame goes to the sanctioning body. They know S&P is going on and do nothing to stop it, and yet they support the fiction as shown in race results. Such behavior is just one more thing that damages NASCAR's credibility.

When somebody says just trust NASCAR on an issue, I laugh. Race after race, they demonstrate that they are promoting fiction. I would have a little more respect for them if they simply acknowledged reality and listed these cars' status as "S&P" in the race results.

But NASCAR continues to treat its fans like mushrooms. And they expect our blind trust in return. It's just more example of the fantasy world that NASCAR management inhabits.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The S&P situation is murky. While some teams can say honestly they are pooling money for a full race run, others are clearly just showing up in qualifying trim, using all the tricks to make the race and then going home.

It's a dirtly little business and one that in my opinion, needs to be ended.


The Loose Wheel said...

Sunoco has never charged for fuel. All teals fill up for free. However, I am surprised that practice has never carried over to Goodyear

Anonymous said...

Why do they have to have new special tires for each race TRACK? I track my car and use the same tires at Summit Point, VIR, Mid Ohio and the Glen. Not the same compound, the same TIRES.

Yeah yeah, I know. But maybe this could be made a little less costly.

fbu1 said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
"The S&P situation is murky..."

You are spot on. There is a huge difference between Tommy Baldwin's team and Phil Parsons' team. TBR is trying to survive and grow, Parsons is abusing the rules to create a relatively easy payday. I respect TBR, but I think Parsons is a disgrace.


MortonGroveDon said...

I attended the Truck/Nationwide series weekend in July in Chicago. At the start of the NNS race, I chose not to watch the leaders, but instead to watch the S&Pr's. Within 6 laps I counted 13 trips down the pitlane by 8 cars. Of those 8 cars, within 20 laps only 1 of them was still out running. I bristle at the commentators on TV when I hear the words " The 43 best drivers in blah blah blah series". No other professional sport, let alone anyother racing series I can think of, allows this to happen. As a paying customer I feel I am being ripped off, maybe none of these cars have a spits chance on a hot sidewalk of winning, but dont sell me a line of lies either. Cut the damn car counts, unless you are afriad of having a name driver finishing last everyweek.