Saturday, October 29, 2005

They Couldn't Start 53 Cars At Atlanta?

53 cars entered the Dixie 500 at Atlanta but only 43 made the race. Among the cars that didn't make it were Robby Gordon, Bobby Hamilton Jr., and Mike Wallace, all drivers who entered every race and worked harder than the one-off teams that did make the race.

It is a continuing flaw in the NASCAR system - why couldn't they have started all entries? It isn't that Atlanta can't fit 53 cars on pit road - especially with multicar teams like Hendrick and Roush that can easily afford to have some of their teams share pits. It isn't that the cars that didn't make the race were so slow they could not keep up in race conditions.

It has been a problem since the early 1990s when new teams began entering the sport at a growing rate and more and more of them were squeezed out of the sport because of qualifying. NASCAR's quasi-official newspaper Winston Cup Scene editorialized years back that this flaw in the system was somehow good for the system because it supposedly showed the intense competitiveness of NASCAR - except that it is number of lead changes in the race that show competitiveness. Sending teams home after qualifying has never improved any facet of the sport - it didn't make those teams better, since denying them track time guarantees they can't improve as teams.

And with NASCAR wanting new teams to come in - i.e. Toyota teams on the absurd notion that the notoriously predatory Toyota motorsports program will somehow infuse new money into a sport that is living up to Robert Yates' famous analysis of the flaws of DiGard Racing, "If there is such a thing as too much money, we (DiGard) had it" - the sanctioning body has even more reason to reevaluate sending anyone home after qualifying.