Bruton Smith…Makes Sense?

Say what you want about Bruton Smith, you can’t accuse the guy of not speaking his mind. And you can bet when there are eager reporters around him the gospel according to Bruton is about to be preached.

Though it might have gotten lost in the noise about Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, Smith took time this past weekend to give his take on the state of the sport, and the changes he would like to see made.

Among his comments, Smith lamented his investment in Motorsports Authentics calling it the “worst decision I have ever made in my business life.” He also said he believes he can get a Kentucky Cup race on the schedule for next season (see stories here, here and here).

Always interesting though were Smith’s suggestions on how to improve the sport. He suggested:

  • NASCAR give Las Vegas a second Cup date to finish out the season and give Homestead California’s second date
  • Consider changing the points system
  • Make the fields smaller to eliminate start and park teams which he called a disgrace
  • Alter the payout system, making wins worth more, to entice drivers to run more aggressively

I haven’t been the biggest advocate of moving the end of the year banquet to Las Vegas, but it clearly is a market that embraces the sport. Could they support two races a year? Probably. And why not finish the season in the place where you’re going to hold the banquet?

Smith said the health of the sport will be tied to the venues on NASCAR’s schedule. I think he makes an important point that the sport needs to stage events where the market is most likely to embrace the product. Unfortunately for Smith, NASCAR isn’t too likely to take dates away from the France family controlled ISC.

Another point Smith made was the need to remove the emphasis of points racing. Do you tune in every week to see your favorite driver run conservatively in order to maintain his points position? I’m guessing the answer is no. While I agree with him on that point I think altering the payout system penalizes those underfunded teams who do actually run full races (ex. Front Row Motorsports). I can’t say I have a better suggestion on how to get drivers to be more aggressive on track though.

On the topic of start and parks (though I could care less) I’m warming to the idea of making fields smaller. Maybe we need to go back to having the size of fields fluctuate depending on which track we’re at. It would redistribute the purses and give S+P’s less of an opportunity to participate.

I can’t say I agree with everything Smith said or suggested, but some of it made sense. For all his eccentricities I think he does a good job of understanding the wants and needs of fans. As one of the sport’s biggest stakeholders NASCAR ought to bring Bruton Smith to the table a little more often.

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9 Responses to “Bruton Smith…Makes Sense?”

  1. steve says:

    Suggestion for promoting more ‘racing’ during the race:

    In addition to awarding points for finishing position, I would award drivers points based on their average position during the race. For example, a driver who finished 3rd and averaged 10th place for the race would get a lot more than 5 points than the 4th place driver who only averaged a 25th place during the race. This would reward drivers for trying to pass (and trying hard to not get passed) during the race… instead of pacing themselves for what amounts to be the final 10% or so of the race.

    Remember last year at Talladega, the single file that went on for lap after lap? They did so because they had no incentive to break formation… at least until the end of the race. Under a revised points system, each lap a driver was behind a competitor would cost him points… a great incentive to try to get ahead of the other drivers.

  2. Neon says:

    I like it Steve! Remember the days of the 1/2-way bonus and the (5) No Bull million drivers? Races within a race will capture the interest throughout 500 miles.

  3. JPE says:

    Unlike Bruton and ISC, I’m not interested in their bottom line. Why add another race to LV –another cookie cutter. Oh the joy. Time to turn the channel.

    Not that anyone cares but if I ran the NASCAR world, I’d:

    -Lose both dates at California
    -Lose 1 date each at: Michigan, New Hampshire, Atlanta, Chicago, Dover, Kansas
    -Return the Southern 500 to Darlingon on Labor Day
    -Add a race to Rockingham, NC
    -Add a race to Irwindale, CA
    -Add a race to Iowa Speedway
    -Add a race to Pikes Peak

  4. Doug in CA says:

    Steve: I think that’s a mite complicated, but I have always liked the idea of giving extra points to more lap leaders. The guy who leads the most gets 10, the guy leading the next most gets 8, etc. And I’m not wedded to the idea of ten points for most laps. It could be 10, 12, 23 or whatever. I also wouldn’t mind cutting off the points at a certain point, as in F1 and IRL. Given the size of NASCAR fields, maybe give points to the top 30? Totally aside from the wreck issue, why have some guy out there who’s 150 laps down? Plus, you have to adjust for tracks. How do you balance out leading 100 of 500 laps vs 100 of 200 laps?

    JPE: I think Fontana can support one race if it’s at the right time of year. The racing there has become very interesting of late. I like Irwindale, but it seats about 6,000 people. Are you willing to give Darlington only one date if it’s Labor Day? As for the bottom line, you should care – that’s what makes the system run.

    Start and parks: I don’t much care either, although the saga of these teams has some interest. I remember last year Joe Nemechek finally had enough money to run a full race and got wrecked early. It was painful to see him interviewed – all that work, all the scraping, all the ignominy of being a S&P, and when he got his chance, he gets caught up in someone else’s mess.

  5. steve says:

    I don’t think it would be that complicated with today’s technology. I wouldn’t be surprised if NASCAR doesn’t already record each racer’s position at the end of each lap; if so, all that would be required is to provide each crew real time calculations of the running totals.

    And I would apply it to everybody, while the racing most fun to watch is a battle for the lead, there could be some decent racing between guys fighting it out over 32nd place.

  6. djones says:

    @ JPE, you forgot Pocono :)

    I like the points ideas mentioned. Get rid of the Chase and implement the new point system.

    @ Steve, I really like your idea about racing for 32nd place utilizing a points change. Owners and sponsors should get on this. Just think of the TV time those drivers would get.

    Regarding smaller fields, I’m all for that. I would rather see fewer cars actually out there racing for $$ and points.

  7. Richard in N.C. says:

    You can always count on Darth Bruton coming up with ideas that benefit him more than anyone else – like his killing off North Wilkesboro.

  8. steve says:

    And in the spirit of the sport, I offer my idea to NASCAR free of charge. Having said that, I wouldn’t turn down a chance to meet a driver or two.. and Chad Knaus.

  9. carl says:

    I liked Brutin’s ideas, Las Vegas deserves to be the season finale, with a night race, take away one of the california, one pocono, and adds 2nd las vegas and a road course on the chase, maybe montreal or road america.
    about the points, keep the same, except the winner takes 250 instead of 185, that would make a great difference between the winner and the 2nd place.

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