For years now the F1 Championship has been functioning on a points system: The drivers will collect points based on where they finish in the race during the course of the season and the person with the most points wins. It seems a flawless system – until you look at it a little more closely.
At first glance a person would assume that a driver would have to almost always win in order to come out on tops. But that is not necessarily the case. A person could finish in the top five consistently and, with a bit of luck, the other drivers finishing in the top five could always be different. Not only is it theoretically possible to win the F1 championship without actually winning a race – it has happened in both Formula 1 and other motor sports where the points system is used. The points system also allows drivers to play it ‘safe’, since they do not have to push the envelope to gain a win if they are in second place with a good number of points already behind them. Because of this, there is often no over-taking when cars should be fighting to be at the front. The exciting and crowd-drawing ‘edge’ to the sport is lost some, since spectators find themselves wondering why the drivers don’t even try to overtake.
Now it seems that is all about to become a thing of the past. The 2009 Formula One season is set to get off to a flying start with a medal system. Commercial F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has decided that the best way to stop drivers from sitting back and taking it easy is to erase the points system altogether. He has suggested that the FIA award the top three competitors in each race with a gold, silver and bronze medal. By the end of the race season, the driver with the most gold medals will receive the championship trophy while silver and bronze medals will act as tiebreakers. So far it seems that both the FIA and the various F1 teams are more than ready to support the change. Indeed, the concept has already been given the go-ahead for the 2009 Formula One season.
The change will put a new spin on a lot of current racing strategies. It will also throw into perspective current driver capabilities. It is interesting to note, for example, that Massa would have won the 2008 championship instead of Hamilton if the medal system had already been in place. Or would he? Perhaps both would have been pushed harder to succeed and their true abilities and talents would have shone through. One thing is for sure: racing fans can certainly look forward to an exciting 2009 racing season!
NASCAR CEO Brian France recently discussed the dilemma facing most budding auto racing teams – finances. It’s a dilemma that is currently affecting the entire industry and NASCAR seems set on finding ways to cut costs and making racing more accessible so that the sport stays afloat in this time of economic hardships.
Brian France recently commented: “It’s very difficult. It’s on our whole industry. And there are always some unfunded teams. Now, that’s not anything new. One of my goals and one of our goals is to have a system where you don’t need $26 million to put a competitive team forward. So that is one of the things NASCAR has a lot of influence on and we’re working all the time to figure that out.” So far the organization has been kept afloat by sponsorship deals that had already been put in place long before the global economic meltdown began. NASCAR is also incredibly lucrative as a spectator sport, with television contracts raking in some $600 million each year. Pre-arranged contracts should enable the organization to stay afloat until around 2014. So then, where’s the problem?
NASCAR is struggling to keep afloat at team level. Sponsors have dropped off, leaving teams struggling to get what they need to make it through the next racing season, let alone the next couple of years. The teams that are still managing to make the cut are currently discussing possible mergers. This involves noteworthy teams such as Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises. Mergers mean less cars on the track, which means less excitement, less chance of a long-shot and less crowd pull. Driver Denny Hamlin summed up the situation nicely. He said: “Ultimately the sponsors are going to look to the teams that perform well. If it kind of gets where the smaller teams can’t do it, it’s going to be tough for them to go out there and race with the guys that have four cars each and every week.”
The current economic crises also crosses into the manufacturing sector, with longtime NASCAR supports such as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler now facing a never-before-seen financial crises. This means that even if these manufacturing companies continue to support NASCAR – as they most likely will – their support will be greatly reduced, adding to the financial plight of the NASCAR organization. A lot of teams will probably be laying off some of their employees at the end of this year’s racing season, leaving a lot of people with uncertain futures. One of NASCAR’s only ways of trying to counter all this, is to make racing cheaper and more affordable so that less money is needed to run a team. One possibility currently being looked into is reducing or eliminating test runs before races. All eyes are now waiting to see exactly what strategies NASCAR implements to try and slow down this very worrying trend.
When Kyle Busch takes to the racetrack, fans are generally kept on tenterhooks waiting to see if he’ll blast past fellow competitors to take the winner’s trophy or if he’ll let his winning style slide for another bad finish. This past weekend’s race left no-one guessing, however, as Busch leisurely kept ahead of the pack for an easy finish.
When Busch took to the Dover International Speedway on the September 20th in the latest race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, it was quickly apparent that there would be no stopping him. Busch absolutely dominated the race, starting at pole and leading for the duration of the 400-mile Camping World RV Sales 200. His Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota performed flawlessly, his driving skills were on the mark and there was never a moment of tension. As Busch noted, the team “made it look easy.” So easy in fact that the run has been called a “leisurely afternoon drive.” Though the race stretched into overtime with 207 laps, Kyle Busch always ensured that fellow competitors were choking on his exhaust fumes. In the end he pulled ahead by a couple of car lengths on the final restart, ensuring an easy and almost flawless victory for himself and his team. He led for laps 1-72, 74-98 and the final 60 laps – certainly not something that is often seen in the motor sport industry.
The win was Kyle Busch’s eighth victory so far this season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Current series point leader Clint Bowyer did not enjoy quite such an easy race. His No. 2 Chevrolet was severely damaged in a pit-road accident that took place about halfway through the race. Bowyer managed to pull the pieces together for a 10th place finish which helped him to maintain his lead over Edwards, but the accident and subsequent bad finish certainly has helped Edwards to catch up 21 points. Edwards is unlikely to catch Bowyer however, as he still has to make up 186 points and there are only six races left in the series for the season. Mike Bliss finished second while Brad Keselowski finished third. Scott Wimmer was fourth and Carl Edwards finished fifth. This was Busch’s 19th win in the top three NASCAR series this year.
Jason Meyers has been hard at work climbing his way through the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series standings. After some aggressive driving he has managed to cut Donny Schatz‘s lead to 115 markers. Meyers currently leads the series with 34 Top-Five finishes – the last fifteen of which have been consecutive. If he continues at his current pace, Meyers’ chances of winning his first series title will be very good.
However Meyers is up against some tough competition. Two-time defending series champion Schatz is not about to give up without a fight. Schatz is the only driver who has managed to finish in the top-10 in every single event that has taken place this season. With 12 A-Feature wins under his belt, he is looking to get his third consecutive title. He has 33 Top-Five finishes and so is hot on the tail of Meyers. The two are hotly pursued by Craig Dollansky who finished in second place in the race held at Dacotah Speedway on Saturday night, as well as on Sunday night. He continues to stay in third place in the standings and currently has 37 Top-Ten finishes so far this season as well as seven A-Feature wins.
Though they may not be much of a challenge to the top two contenders at this point, Joey Saldana and Steve Kinser are also working hard to make sure that they stay in the top five on the standings. Joey Saldana has 32 Top-Ten finishes so far this season and remains fourth in the point standings, while Steve Kinser is closing in on him with 30 Top-Ten finishes. The point gap between Kinser and Saldana closed a little after the races on Saturday, where Kinser managed to take a win, and on Sunday when he had another Top-Ten finish. The top five are tailed by Jac Haudenschild who is sixth in points with 14 Top-Five finishes and Kerry Madsen and Chad Kemenah who are tied for seventh. There are still a few more Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series races left before the end of the season so fans will be kept on the edge of their seats as they await the final outcome of the series.
After two consecutive lackluster finishes, fans and fellow drivers alike thought that maybe Busch was slipping up a bit. But it seems that Kyle Busch will have no ill-talk of his skills. He responded to comments made by rivals Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson by winning a Sprint Cup Series event and setting a new NASCAR record on Sunday.
When Kyle Busch lined up on the starting grid amongst fellow competitors at the Centurion Boats at The Glen in Watkins Glen, New York, on Sunday, it was anyone’s guess as to who’d win the race. After less-than-stellar performances in his two most recent races no one was sure if Busch would pick up his socks and get back in the game or let the championship slip through his fingers with yet another dismal race. But it seems that the gentle chiding from his rivals was all Busch needed to get back in the game. Kyle Busch led the race just 52 laps from pole, screaming over the finish line ahead of the pack to take his sixteenth victory of the season. In doing so he also became the first NASCAR driver to ever claim three road-course race victories in the same year. He now leads the Sprint Cup point’s race and things are looking good for him to win the series.
In commenting on the race, Busch said that “to be a force to be reckoned with means a lot.” And the 23-year-old driver certainly is a force to be reckoned with. After a particularly successful year, Busch has managed to make a name for himself in NASCAR’s top three series. Eight of his wins have taken place in top-level Sprint Cups, two were taken in the Craftsman Truck Series and a further Six have been claimed in the Nationwide. He has now secured the top spot in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup title and fans are looking forward to the race. This was his fourth win in his past seven races and the short spell of non-wins was considered by the team to be a ‘slump’. Well it seems that Busch is out of his slump, so now it only remains to be seen how he does in the final races of the season.