The official announcement by NASCAR regarding the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup’s new format put an end to weeks of speculation and sparked debates among NASCAR fans on the pros and cons of the upcoming changes, which are reportedly designed to put the emphasis on winning races, rather than accumulating points. It is anticipated that the new format will generate a lot more excitement among fans, which may result in grandstands packed to capacity with spectators, a scenario which should make sponsors happy and motivate them to keep teams running.
The new NASCAR Sprint Cup scoring format increases the number of Chase competitors from 12 to 16 and drivers must win at least one of the first 26 races of the season to earn one of 15 spots in the championship. The 16th position will go to the season’s points leader, irrespective of a win. Also, in order to qualify for the Chase, drivers must be in the Top 30 in points at the end of the 26 races and tried to qualify in these races.
A series of qualifier races after the 29th, 32nd and 35th races will eliminate drivers each time, until four drivers remain for the final race to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Starting from a leveled playing field, the four drivers will compete for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship title.
While there are obviously pros and cons for both the old and new format of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, it’s generally agreed that the 2014 season is likely to see an uptick in competitiveness as drivers go all out for a win, knowing that collecting points may just not be good enough. Strategies for on the track and in the pits may have to be revised, and team-work will take on a whole new dimension – all of which should add up to a whole lot of action for 2014.
The Indycar season kicks off in St. Petersburg, a 1.8 mile street course with 14 turns. Accompanying the IndyCar race will be Stadium Super Trucks, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda Championship, USF2000 National Championships and Pirelli World Challenge. Spectators can enjoy a weeklong festival that features and abundance of entertainment.
Date:28-30 March 2014
Time: 04:00pm ET
Location: Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
The possibility of NASCAR reinventing the format of the Chase for the Sprint Cup has drawn commentary from many quarters – some positive, but more leaning toward the negative. It’s no secret that NASCAR chairman Brian France wants the focus to be on winning races rather than the accumulation of points, and has made some adjustments over the years to the original format introduced in 2004 to achieve this goal. The latest proposal, however, is the most drastic of all and will change the series completely if it is introduced.
The proposal reportedly includes increasing competitors in the Chase for the Sprint Cup from 12 to 16, with a win in any of the season’s first 26 races putting a driver in line for entry into the championship. Should there be more than 16 winners in those 26 races, then the 16 drivers with the most wins as well as the highest in points would qualify for the Chase. Once the field for the Chase was established, a round of elimination races would whittle competitors down to 4 for the final winner-takes-all race. The elimination races would take place after the third, sixth and ninth races of the Chase with 4 drivers being eliminated each time and the remaining 4 drivers going into the final race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with points reset and tied in the Sprint Cup standings.
When asked to comment on the proposed changes, vice president and chief communications officer of NASCAR, Brett Jewkes, was quoted as saying that NASCAR had started the “process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format.” He went on to state that the briefing was the final phase of extensive research, feedback and “data-driven insights”.
The point has been made that implementing these changes would make historical comparisons impossible as the formats are too different. Also, the championship title would lose its value if the final race is the decider, rather than awarding it to the driver who has shown skill and endurance through the season under varying conditions and on different tracks, thereby gaining points. Some observers have noted that it’s entirely possible NASCAR is putting the idea out there to gauge response before making an official announcement. With the 2014 Sprint Cup Season starting in February, fans won’t have long to wait to find out if a new format is on the cards for 2014.
The action of drifting, when the rear slip angle of a car is greater that the front slip angle and a loss of traction occurs between tires and track, can occur in different types of auto racing. This may be unintentional, with drivers either spinning off the track or being able to rectify the over-steering that caused the drift, or intentionally, with drivers using the technique to gain an advantage. In recent years, drifting has developed into a recognized motorsport in its own right, with drivers intentionally over-steering to get their cars to slide sideways while still being in control. Drifting competitions are held in many countries around the world, where competitors are judged by a set of criteria which may include speed and angle, as well as adherence to the line through corners which is set for each competition and amount of smoke created. In some competitions audience response and driver showmanship are taken into account when selecting a winner.
Drifting as a sport is believed to have originated in Japan, with motorcycle and car racing champion Kunimitsu Takahashi being considered to be the “father of drifting” as, in the 1970s, he created many of the original drifting techniques still used today. Takahashi’s drift techniques were picked up by Keiichi Tsuchiya who took to practicing his moves on mountainous passes. He was given the nickname of “Drift King” for the part he played in establishing drifting as a motorsport, and for his use of drifting in standard racing events. The video (Pluspy) focusing on Tsuchiya’s drifting skills continues to inspire today’s drivers.
Sponsored by the Japanese drifting magazine Option, one of the first drifting events in the United States took place at the Willow Springs Raceway in California. The sport has gone from strength to strength since then with the premier series in the United States being Formula D. This exciting championship series consists of seven events that take place at race tracks across the country. Judges take into account execution and style and so the winner will not necessarily be the competitor who finishes the course in the quickest time.
Tracks in the US that currently host drifting events include the Long Beach GP street circuit; Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA; Palm Beach International Raceway; Wall Speedway, NJ; Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA; Las Vegas Motor Speedway; and the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, CA. Described as the merging of extreme sports with traditional racing, drift racing offers plenty of action and excitement – for both drivers and spectators.
When NASCAR was founded by Bill France Sr. more than fifty years ago, the idea was to race cars that could be bought off a dealership showroom floor – stock cars. Over the years as technology advanced, so have the cars, but the NASCAR philosophy remained the same, with driver skill being the deciding factor when a car crosses the finish line. Following a series of deaths in the first few years of the new century – Tony Roper, Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. – NASCAR officials turned their attention to making the sport safer and in 2007 the Car of Tomorrow (COT) was introduced with the emphasis on driver safety.
To level the playing field to an extent, the exact same template was used, regardless of which manufacturer was building the car – Ford, Dodge, Toyota or Chevrolet. The slightly larger build of the Car of Tomorrow was a little less aerodynamic, but more stable at high speeds and better able to handle impact from other cars. The new CoT debuted on March 25, 2007, at Bristol with Kyle Busch winning the race in a Chevrolet, but nonetheless commenting during his victory lane interview that the car “sucked”. Other drivers gave the car mixed reviews, with one of the negatives being that racing had been reduced to a single-file procession with little room for the action provided by competitors passing one another.
Various problems with the CoT were experienced and ironed out over the following years, and in 2012 fuel injection replaced the carburetor as the fuel distributor. For 2013, NASCAR sanctioned a redesign of the CoT body style,which is mostly cosmetic in nature, to identify with the manufacturer, with the chassis and mechanics of the car remaining the same. The CoT was officially renamed the Gen6 car by NASCAR at the 2012 Ford Championship Weekend.
In a recent series of tests at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the new NASCAR Gen 6 reportedly received a stamp of approval from the sixteen drivers testing it. Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted enthusiastically he was really impressed and that NASCAR is going to be “revolutionized” by the car – and that type of endorsement from one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers bodes well for the Gen 6 car in 2013.