Start & Park: Bringin’ Up the Rear

I got the idea for this post from our faithful reader Kenny.  He was asking me about something else, but the topic of start-and-park came up.  First off Kenny, start-and-park teams don’t hire pit crews.  NASCAR doesn’t necessarily mandate that you need seven over-the-wall guys to be in the race, and since these teams know they aren’t going the distance they don’t spend the money on a crew.

Anyways, on to the world of start-and-park teams.  A start-and-park team is one who shows up to the race, maybe practices a few laps, qualifies, runs some laps in the race, and parks for the night.  The whole idea is that they’ll finish in the back but collect the money for being in the race.  They don’t spend a lot on equipment, tires, crews, and everything else in order to make a profit from the winnings.  We’ve seen this in all three series, but lately its only been in the Nationwide and Truck Series because there are too many good teams in the Cup Series right now.

This weekend at Bristol, we saw no less then six teams start the Nationwide race only to park their cars a short time later.  Justin Hobgood, running for MSRP Motorsports, ran a single lap, finished 43rd in the race and collected $20,216.  Hobgood’s #91 car has appeared in 22 races this season and has earned $428,599 in winnings.  Not bad for only completing 299 laps all season.

The usual start-and-park teams include MSRP Motorsports, Johnny Davis Motorsports, Jay Robinson Racing (except the #28), Derrike Cope/Rick Markle Racing, and sometimes Morgan Shepherd.  You won’t hear a lot about these teams because of their role in the series.

These teams are the result of the low car counts at Nationwide and Truck races.  Because of the economy and sponsorship issues, there may only be 35 teams showing up to a Nationwide race who have the intention of running the distance.  These start-and-park teams can show up, knowing they can make the field, and collect the winnings.  They have discovered a bit of a loophole in the system, and it allows some guys to still be at the track each weekend and make a decent living.

I believe to some extent that NASCAR lets these teams exist because they will fill the field.  It looks bad for the sport if there aren’t 43 cars in the show, and these teams fill that void.  I’m not a start-and-park hater, and I certainly understand why they are there.  What bugs me about these teams though, is that in some instances they take up spots in the field when there are cars on the entry list who want to run the race, but might just be a tick slow.  I’d rather see a slower car run the whole race, then a car that’s a bit faster park after 4 laps.  It is called “racing” after all, not “parking.”

So what is your opinion of start-and-parkers?  Does it bother you?  Do you think NASCAR should exclude teams that don’t intend on running the whole race?

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19 Responses to “Start & Park: Bringin’ Up the Rear”

  1. I understand why they do it. That money helps them run other non-NASCAR races (and collect money from those) and those races are a lot cheaper to enter.
    Would I rather see a slower car run the whole race? No. It wouldn’t enhance my race experience.
    Is it fair? NASCAR and their rules are an enigma to me. What’s fair for one team is unfair for another and they change weekly. It’s hard to keep up with the ever changing rule book.

  2. I’ve been wondering – do these Start and Park teams have spare tires and gas cans in their pits at the start of the race? I’d like to see this on the TV coverage.


    Sherwyn Gilliland
    Arroyo Grande, CA

  3. Tommy says:

    It’s usually the proverbial kiss of death for a driver to be involved in a start and park. I know several drivers without rides who were approached by teams to do this and they declined, even though they miss being at the track.

    I can’t blame some of these teams for doing it though. They are all trying to get to next week and hope something better falls in their lap, so they can race for real.

  4. cvt says:

    “I believe to some extent that NASCAR lets these teams exist because they will fill the field.”

    I understand the tv contract requires 43 car fields so NASCAR needs these jokers.

  5. Callaway says:

    Nascar want to give the phony impression that these mostly single car teams can still exist and contend by allowing them to schlep their way into races each week make the pace lap then generally just be in the way until retiring the car for the day. I guess if you have a corporation and want to throw money out of the window to sponsor these car you can but the truth is in not the too distant future there will be 8 or 10 teams and whole bunch of subsidiary teams they support. I personally would find it embarrassing to show up and go through the all the motions park it, then have to look your sponsors in the face and tell them “we’ll get em next week” week after week knowing it’s a bold face lie. Nascar is like horse racing either you have the stock or stay home, race where you can be competitive or get out of the sport. To me it almost boarders on deceptive practices what some of these teams do to sponsors even in Sprint Cup not just Nationwide.

  6. Roger says:

    Back in the day when I made my living racing I had no use for the start & park people. I do understand why they do it now so I am not so judgemental of them. In my day we went to win, if we didn’t think we could we would never go. I still feel that way, but knowing that this old body want let me do what I love it is real tempting to do the same thing. I would at least be there instead of just watching on tv. I was asked once by a friend why I never went to races anymore, my answer was and is I can’t aford it now that I am not paid to go. I still miss it a lot. You don’t spend most of your life doing it and just walk away. It still flows in my veins as strong as ever and will as long as I live, so if I had the chance to start & park, well lets just say it is more tempting today than it was then.
    My body may be worn out but it still full of racers blood.


  7. Marylee says:

    John, thanks for this explanation. I hadn’t realized how pervasive it was – esp. the issue of not even having a pit crew! AND, was very frustrated Friday night when I realized a lot of teams were “out” but TV had never mentioned why. Blamed TV coverage – but now I know that they may have been “protecting” those drivers.
    When more than 43 teams come to attempt to qualify, how do those that miss the cut feel when they then see other competitors start but immediately drop out. I think this could be a real issue that needs to be looked at.

  8. Editor says:

    Start and park is only possible when their aren’t enough competitive teams to fill the field. Making the bottom line that if you can’t qualify in front of a start and park team then you need to go back and do more homework, find more money or get a better driver.

  9. 111820jgr says:

    Hobgood’s #91 car has appeared in 22 races this season and has earned $428,599 in winnings. Not bad for only completing 299 laps all season.

    how much do they profit from this type of “start&park” strategy?

    what do have to do to become a park and start team?

    how much crap do these catch from the “regulars” who actually compete every week?

    thanks for bringing this to our attention i kinda figured when you watch the race that this must be happening but had no idea that it was this widespread.

    i found your blog the day that jayski linked to you all. i have enjoyed reading it ever sense. you do a much better job than the penske guys who do nothing but complain anymore. i guess you guys much for some chase teams or just have a better attitude.

    keep up the great work.


  10. Richard in N.C. says:

    I suspect that some of the so-called start-and-parkers, like Morgan Shepherd, might not be able financially to compete every week, but might be able to compete every 3rd or 4th week using the prize money from the weeks they made the field, but bowed out quickly.

  11. vettes n frets says:

    I have no probelm with Start/Show money when running local tracks,if your car gets beat up in the heat at least if you repaired it enough to Start the feature and run 1 lap you got your entry fee back…been there done that.

    Nascar should make the teams run at least to the first caution to get payout money.

  12. JT says:

    When Morgan gets help from stars like Tony Stewart, he can still get up on the wheel. Besides, Morgan’s Racing For Jesus team is a good ministry.

  13. PMM88Jr says:

    What about the #331 Kenny Hendrick? Stanton Barrett enters 2 cars to gather information to make the #30 better for the race. He doesn’t have a budget to perform any testing, so having a second car to try setups during the practices helps him for the race. Kenny Hendrick’s only job is to give Stanton more data to qualify and race better. If the #331 makes the race and parks, Stanton uses the money to help his car and crew. It must be cheaper to bring two cars to run through the practices, qualifying and start than it is to test during the week. Opinions?

  14. Tommy says:

    PMM88 makes a very good point and for a low budget multi car team, its not a bad strategy.

    Someone asked earlier about how much money a start and park pockets. I’ve heard estimates that the team pockets roughly 1/3 of the purse after expenses for a weekend. Some races pay a lot better, so that percentage would go up some at those tracks.

  15. Eric says:

    Jay Robinson Racing starts & park only the #49 of Kertus Davis. they do that due to low funding, if they get a sponsor they will run entire race. The #4 car of Derrike Cope usally does entire race if they can get a a pit crew together by race time. Robinson’s team has talented drivers njust needs Sponsor to do entire race.

  16. rob says:

    i went to the 2009 birckyard 400 and saw 3 cars park come on nascar do somthing

  17. hazzard says:

    The idea that fans would be ticked if 43 cars weren’t starting is a stretch. I’d rather see 35 cars “racing” than a full field with 8 parkers. You can take a lot of cars out of a 43 car field to start a race without it looking cheap and amateur like F1 or IRL with it’s 11 car fields in the past.

  18. kyle says:

    start and parks are absolutely hideous. whenever i see one of these jokers crash out and ruin their only car, i laugh histerically. i hope every week when i tune into a nationwide race i see one of these fundless retards hit the wall.

  19. Rick says:

    I saw more power to them. It is a business after all and f you could spend 10k to make 20k every weekend, what do you think you would do ? Makes good business sense to me.

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