Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Is it time for NASCAR to make format changes?

23 Comments

With speculation of format changes for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, one track president said he doesn’t want to see anything “radical,” but would be for a halftime break or quarter breaks in a race.

Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, said Friday he would be for breaks in races but is against anything that shortens races.

“I think a format change is a good thing, but it needs to be a tweak, not a radical change,” he said on a conference call Friday announcing the track’s repaving project. “If I could wave the magic wand, we’d have at least a halftime and maybe periods. Something like that. Football games have four quarters. Hockey games have three (periods). That kind of thing.

“Pit stops? I don’t know if you would have five minutes or 10 minutes or just throw a caution flag like a competition yellow. Those aren’t radical departures.’’

Gossage also said he would be for paying a bonus to the leader at halfway again. He even suggested awarding points based on segments of races.

“Those kind of things as opposed to, I’ve heard people talking about heats and things like that, I think that is a radical departure,’’ he said. 

Discussion of any format changes has increased with Monster Energy becoming the title sponsor for NASCAR’s top series. Some believe this could be a natural time to make such changes.

Monster Energy sponsors the Supercross Series — it was announced Thursday that Monster has extended its deal to sponsor that series through 2021 — and that series is making changes. The Supercross Series will go to timed races this year instead of races based on laps.

Would timed races be something that could work with some NASCAR races?

“My personal opinion is that timed races suck,’’ Gossage said. “It’s funny, I hear all these kind of things from the people that travel the circuit, the teams, the sponsor reps, the media, but you don’t hear these things from the fans. Our fans, they don’t want less. They’ve been waiting all year long for this. They don’t want less. They want more.

“No fan wants us to go away from 500-mile races (at Texas). I don’t know if timed races make any sense, to me personally. I watched I think the longest college football game in history the other night. The Rose Bowl game. Didn’t it go 17 hours or something like that (actual time of USC’s 52-49 win over Penn State on Monday was 4 hours, 12 minutes)?

“But it was thrilling. You didn’t want to turn it off. What we’ve got to work on is make sure the product is thrilling and it doesn’t matter how long it goes.’’

NASCAR America: Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones get a feel of how Olympians train (video)

Leave a comment

NASCAR drivers talk almost continuously about how they have to be in top physical condition to endure sometimes often very difficult conditions while on a racetrack and behind the wheel.

One only needs to look at seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to see the rewards of being fit.

But going to one of the Olympic training centers in the U.S. is a whole other thing, something that separates folks who think they’re fit from those that really are.

Ask Toyota drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, who recently participated in a two-day training session at an Olympic training facility.

We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still nursing sore muscles, given the workouts they endured – and which gave them new appreciation for what many Olympians must go through to be the best.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America: Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch ready for Daytona fireworks (video)

Leave a comment

NASCAR’s summer classic, the Coke Zero 400, celebrates this country’s independence, its military heroes and concludes with a great fireworks show.

But as Clint Bowyer and this year’s Daytona 500 winner, Kurt Busch, will vouch for, there’s also a lot of fireworks during the race, as the 2.5-mile, high-banked tri-oval can be one of the most difficult and intimidating places to race upon.

If a driver isn’t dodging fellow drivers, he or she is trying to stay in the draft to gain forward movement and momentum. Unfortunately, a lot of times when dodging and draft collide, so too do a lot of cars and drivers, as well.

It may not be the Daytona 500, but winning at Daytona in July is still a big prize that everyone wants to win. And don’t forget, because it’s Daytona, it’s also a place to be careful at because of the danger that can pop up at any moment.

Find out why by clicking on the above video.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte kicks off weekly feature honoring pit crews (video)

Leave a comment

They’re the unsung heroes of NASCAR, the guys who typically don’t get enough praise when things go right, and then oftentimes have the finger of blame pointed at them when things go wrong.

We’re talking about one of the most important jobs in NASCAR: pit crew member.

Starting with Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, a guy who knows a lot about pit crews – former crew chief turned NBC NASCAR analyst Steve Letarte – kicked off a feature that will run each week for the 20 remaining weeks of the season.

Letarte’s series will spotlight the importance of pit crews, and he’ll also choose pit crew all-stars to recognize their contributions to the sport and their perseverance on pit road.

This week’s first bunch of pit crew all-stars are Caleb Hurd, gasman for Denny Hamlin; Jeff Zarella, tire specialist for Kurt Busch and Frank Mathalia, engine tuner for Austin Dillon.

Give them and their peers some love and check out the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants one final Daytona win for himself and his father (video)

Leave a comment

Daytona International Speedway has been a bittersweet place for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It’s been the place of his biggest NASCAR Cup career wins, including the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014.

But it’s also the same place where he lost his father  in a last-lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Now, Earnhardt returns to the “World Center of Speed” for what will be the final time in his 18-year NASCAR Cup career.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Earnhardt reflected upon all the good and bad Daytona has meant to him and his family.

On his first time back to Daytona after his father’s death nearly five months earlier: “Once we got to Daytona, we drove by the racetrack, pulled in, parked in Turn 3, got out and walked around. The track was empty, quiet and I’d never been to the crash site. That’s where dad, in my mind, lost his life. That was where we all remember him last.”

Returning to Daytona for the first time after his father’s death there: “I felt like that was a place I wanted to visit. And every time I go to Daytona, even today, I go around that racetrack, I look at that spot, I look at that knoll of grass before the exit of Turn 4. I wanted to go there and see how I felt and see what kind of emotions happened so that I could get whatever was going to be out of the way.

“I told myself what I was going through is the same sadness that some guy somewhere in the Midwest is dealing with right now. Who am I to go on and on about how hard it was, because somebody, somewhere right now is dealing with a loss.”

How he wishes his father was still here to see the man and driver he’s become: “I’d have loved it if he’d stuck around a lot longer, but that’s not the way it was supposed to be. And we figured out how to make it (when he won the 2001 Coke Zero 400 in his father’s honor).”

On wanting to win one last time at Daytona in a Cup car this Saturday night: “I’d love to win at Daytona and add another win to the Earnhardt column. Every time I win there, I think it’s another win for me and dad because his success there stretches far beyond the Daytona 400 and July 400. But any time I win there, that’s one more stake in the ground that we claim this track as a place we dominate.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski