Recent announcements by NASCAR at the annual media tour were generally expected yet with a couple of twists. But once the biggies were flopped out there, many folks lost their collective minds over them.
The truck series began in 1995 and turned 21 - TWENTY-ONE! - just last season. That's the first year of legal drinking age and the precipice of college graduation! What kind of changes did you go through around that period of your life?
The series has seen a variety of changes in format, tracks, truck configurations, drivers, teams, and now a championship structure and scheduled cautions. I personally don't think the trucks have any true long-standing traditions that made me dig in my heels to say "that's just wrong!" when the recent changes were announced. NASCAR overall went through a ton of changes in its first two decades. Let me recap a few of the more significant ones:
- NASCAR began with only a modified series in 1948.
- A full-size, late-model division was implemented in 1949 and branded as the Strictly Stock division.
- After only one year, the top series was rebranded as the Grand National division.
- NASCAR began, operated and then shut-down a Short Track Division. Jim Reed was a five-time champion of the division in the 1950s - yet the division never saw 1960.
- Big Bill France bought an open-wheel, Indianapolis-type series and rebranded it as the NASCAR Speedway Division. Using older Indy cars piloted by NASCAR drivers, the series ran a seven-race schedule in 1952 and a couple of events in 1953 before being disbanded.
- NASCAR purchased a convertible racing series, saw most of the talent bolt, recruited new and existing NASCAR drivers, operated it for about four seasons, and then shuttered it following the 1959 season.
- NASCAR operated a drag racing division a few years before ending it in the 1960s. (And before anyone claims "I know, I know, Richard Petty raced in it" he did not.)
- The Grand National division began a transformative shift away from dirt short tracks to asphalt superspeedways in the 1960s.
- The points system used to determine the season champion was changed five times between 1949 and 1971.
Distilling the old LMS series into the Budweiser / Busch Grand National Series in 1982 was 100% the right thing to do. What I don't think was the right thing to do, however, was to have it become Cup Light. Yet that's what it became - and the toothpaste is out of the tube. Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, etc. all have taken turns dominating the minor league races with major league equipment. NASCAR has no plans to return the series back to places like Myrtle Beach, South Boston, IRP, Nashville Fairgrounds, Martinsville, etc. So at this point, they can put in a chase format, run the tracks backwards, race Tuesday breakfast events, or whatever.
I still enjoy casually watching the races of both series if nothing else is really going on or if I'm at a track for the Cup event. So as far as I'm concerned, the Beach Suits can do whatever they see fit to tweak either of them.
- Will either of the changes - the new championship format or 20-minute caution - improve racing? I doubt it.
- Will either of them cut costs? Probably not - the caution format might reduce the demand for truly speedy pit crews for truck teams, but the new chase format will increase costs.
- Will attendance or ratings increase? Not substantially.
- Will all the folks who claim they are now done with NASCAR truly walk away? Hardly.
So grab yourself a cold one, find the remote (or the app on your phone), fire up the races, holster your tweeter and for the love of Pete...
Wait, you mean I have to chime in on the NASCAR / RTA Cup charter system too? Hmm. Perhaps. But let's at least let 'em announce that it's been signed, sealed and delivered first.