NASCAR is changing. This isn’t your grandad’s NASCAR anymore. Heck, this isn’t even your dads sport anymore either. NASCAR, has transitioned into a new era of stock car racing over the last couple of decades and with some upcoming moves on the horizon, they will further drift apart from where they started.
First off, that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Some of the new changes may seem radical, but most of them were needed. As someone who knows the business world well, I can tell you that most businesses can’t sustain success as the years pass by while also operating the same way that they did year after year. You have to adapt and evolve as time passes. While systems are put in place for the profitable businesses, you have to tweak them to the day and time that you’re in while also having an eye towards the future. The ones that stay ahead of that curve, well they’re the ones that are always on top.
NASCAR, well they’ve tried to stay ahead of the curve all along. Some moves (Car of Tomorrow), moving out of the southeast, cookie cutter tracks) failed in a long term outlook, while others have transcended the sport.
With this regime running NASCAR right now, well they’re steering this car down the right path again. They’re finding a mix of the past with a mix of new and blending it all together is helping shape a new NASCAR for the now and the future times as well.
Instead of focusing on a North American or global brand, NASCAR is coming back to their roots. The stagnant schedule of the same races around the same time frame each and every year is getting an overhaul. That’s something that was once unheard of but now needed.
The schedule long needed a face lift and the 2021 campaign is getting one.
Instead of racing all over the country and ignoring their most passionate fan base, they’re bringing races back down south again. Atlanta and Darlington will be getting second dates for 2021. But, as an example, they’re also not afraid to switch some things up too by hitting a home run in moving the Firecracker 400 away from the Fourth of July weekend to late August as the regular season finale. I instantly questioned that move but after this past year’s race, I feel like it will give that race the spark it’s recently lost.
They’ve also heard you fans wanting more short tracks and road courses. So, instead of running a mundane schedule of cookie cutter tracks in rural areas around the country, they’re reeling that once niche back in.
See, in the late 90’s, NASCAR was a booming sport. They decided to move the sport out of the southeast and tour the country as a whole. By doing so, they added a bunch of cookie cutter tracks which would help the boon with better visibility around a full track. In came tracks in Texas, Vegas, Kansas, Chicago and Kentucky and out went classic tracks that have long been a staple of this series. Well, with the racing being less than desired on those 1.5-mile tracks and the attendance falling off, NASCAR has recognized that, acknowledged it and has done something about it.
Kentucky and Chicago are off the schedule. Dover, Texas and Michigan which honestly only need one race weekend a year have been given one race weekend in 2021. In turn, in comes Road America, COTA and Nashville with an eye on the Fairgrounds in Music City USA soon.
Also, the Brickyard 400 is moving away from the oval and onto the road course next August. Another move that would have been unthinkable in the 90’s but now a must. The second race at Charlotte is on the ROVAL and that appears to be here to stay.
36 races will be on the 2021 schedule again but six of them are on road courses. For years, we only had two road courses annually and now we triple that amount for 2021 and beyond.
Plus, you no longer have a seasons worth of points to base a champion off of. The “Chase” was adopted in 2004. They’ve tweaked this playoff format over the years with this recent one moving closer to stick and ball sports than ever before.
In 2014, they introduced the win and advance format. Win a race in the regular season and remain in the top 30 in points and you’re playoff eligible. Win a race in each round and you automatically move on to the next.
Yes, points can get you to a championship round, but you’re going to have to win at some point. Then, you have the championship race that offers no points for the Championship 4 drivers. The first driver to cross the finish line first in that race wins the title. Simple.
So, 35 races are run one way with the final another. That’s why winning a championship now is nothing compared to the way that Petty or Earnhardt did it. Take this season for example. Kevin Harvick won nine times in Cup and Chase Briscoe won nine times in Xfinity. Neither won the title. Just like in say the NFL or NBA, the team with the best record doesn’t always win their championship either. This is what NASCAR wants and they sounded pleased by the outcomes.
In turn, we get championship parity. Since this format started, only Kyle Busch has won multiple championships over the course of the seven years of its existence. With Jimmie Johnson retiring, he’s the only won with multiple titles in the sport now.
Johnson is gone. So is Earnhardt. So is Gordon. So is Stewart. We have no Petty’s Yarborough’s, Allison’s, etc. This is a new era where no one has more than two career championships left.
Come 2022, they’ll all be racing a new car. One with larger tires (18 inch wheels), a single lug, a six speed sequential shifter, larger brakes and a different noise.
This is the new NASCAR. It’s one that appears to have a vision and a plan that’s working. They’re not just making changes to make them. They’re doing so with calculations and know how. This is one that guided us through 32 races during a global pandemic and the only major sport to complete their started season on time and crowned a champion in the midst of it all.
NASCAR is rising again and doing so by having a vision.