Cup Start-And-Parks Dwindling

The practice of starting-and-parking has been a much discussed topic over the last couple of years.

If you aren’t aware, starting-and-parking refers to a system in which teams enter a race and pull into the garage after only a few laps with a perfectly good race car in order to collect prize money. Teams can turn a profit doing this, because they save money by not hiring a pit crew or buying expensive sets of tires. But whereas this has been fairly prevalent in recent seasons, it is happening a lot less this year.

NASCAR, while not outlawing the practice completely (it’s complicated), has tried different methods to discourage the start-and-park teams. They’ve tried making early exiting teams go through a complicated inspection process, and this year they reduced the prize money paid to the five lowest finishers.

For most of 2012, it wasn’t uncommon to see as many as six or more cars pull off the track early. Some did it all year purely for profit, and others used it as an opportunity to raise money so they could run other races to the finish. Tommy Baldwin is an example of the latter.

But this season, the most cars we’ve seen start-and-park in a race is three. No teams did it at the Daytona 500, and of the five teams to do so, only two, the 44 of Scott Riggs and the 19 of Mike Bliss, have yet to run a full race. The 33 of Landon Cassill, the 98 of Michael McDowell, and the 95 of Scott Speed have all raced to the finish at least once.

I think the reasons why we’ve seen the reduction are twofold. First, I believe NASCAR’s efforts have made some impact, even if it’s only been small. But I think the biggest hurdle for these teams this season has been the introduction of the Gen 6 car. The start-and-park teams are smaller and not flush with cash, and converting old cars to the new version is expensive. Many rely on buying old cars from the big teams, and it will be some time before any Gen 6 cars are available on the secondary market.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if more start-and-park teams emerge. Inevitably, it will be easier (i.e. cheaper) for the small teams to get Gen 6 cars, and the practice may grow again. It’s not something I’m sure you will ever see go away completely, but I’m glad to see more teams showing up every week intent on running to the checkered.

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8 Responses to “Cup Start-And-Parks Dwindling”

  1. RA Eckart says:

    The new rules seem fair. Hopefully, the Tommy Baldwins of tomorrow can work with them.

    The only thing that was bothersome was Eddie Gossage shooting his mouth off about it. He may as well have invited fans of certain drivers to stay home and not buy tickets to his races.

    There’s a lot of Bobby Labonte fans who’d have had some close calls over the years. Terry Labonte fans too. Eddie want to send those fans home? Or just the Tommy Baldwin fans?

    Or Landon Cassill fans? Landon came out to the Tweet-up, free of charge. Nicest guy, it’d be a shame to send his fans home. Especially since Landon’s out adding to the TMS experience.

    Humpy Wheeler found tires, engines, parts for teams like that. Humpy knew those teams had fans. And that, friends, is a promoter.

  2. Dot says:

    Hey TC,

    Nice to read you again. I noticed during the M’ville race that only 3 cars were off the track when there would normally be several.

    The unintended consequence of fewer S&P’s is if one of the golden drivers is out of the race early, he/she will now finish in the low 30′s. They no longer have the S&P cushion.

  3. Jim says:

    I have never understood why Nascar fans care so much about who runs last??? Only about 15 out of the 43 cars out there have a legitimate shot at winning any given race so why do fans care who runs 41st, 42nd and 43rd? I think what most fans don’t realize is that this practice has been going since the beginning of Nascar. In fact back in the day Nascar used to pay drivers/cars for just showing up so the field would at least appear full at the start of the race. If Nascar really wanted to fix this “problem” they would dramatically restructure the purse so that the payout to the last 10 or so cars would barely be enough for gas money home.

  4. grumpiestoldman says:

    Totally unrelated….
    Is the new Kacey Musgraves song about Tony Stewart?

  5. Neon says:

    RE Jim- I only care who runs last because in the NASCAR fantasy league I want my competition to finish dead last and score but a single point. Hehehehe. When there are start-n-parks they tend to earn freebie points.
    RE Grumpy- have not heard that song, is it about eating disorders & wraslin?

  6. grumpiestoldman says:

    Neon…..ummm , just the title got me wonderin’.

  7. Kevin says:

    The one thing start & park did was put cars that did not have sponsorship at the racetrack. It made them visible to potential sponsors. It looks like sponsors are returning, and these teams were noticed. A good thing.

  8. Steve says:

    I think NASCAR is kinda caught between a rock and a hard place on the question of “Start and Park” teams. NASCAR as a sanctioning body has to provide 43 teams for each race, right? Been a very long time since I’ve seen less than 43 take the green, and I think it might rile up a track promoter if they did.

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