Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What Does NASCAR Get For $15,231,323.00?‏

By John "Dawg" Chapman

What does NASCAR get for 15 million, 231 thousand, 323 dollars?
Not much as it turns out. That's how much prize money the Start & Park
teams took home in 2011 for showing up so that the starting formation
would look the same on TV for the parade lap.

I've heard it said that a part of the TV deal, was that NASCAR would
start 43 cars. I doubt this is accurate, but for some reason NASCAR
seems willing to reward the teams that show up, with no intention
of adding anything to the show.

My question is, do you think NASCAR's getting their money's worth?
Remember we're talking $15 million, 231 thousand, & change. What's
the difference if 43 cars start, & we're down to 37, or so, after 30
laps. Or if only that number started the race?

I've heard all the excuses for allowing this to go on.

First thing people throw out is that these teams are going the S & P
route to keep their teams together, until they can come up with the
money to race. Fair enough, I can understand that, but at what point do
they have to say it's not working? Over the last three seasons, Phoenix
Racing, Phil Parsons, have started 88 races, not counting the ones they
were unable to qualify for, & been running at the end in 5 of them.

Over this same stretch Joe Nemechek (a driver who's skill I admire)
has started 102 races, been running at the end in 7, 5 of them in '09.
Joe was the most successful S & P owner this season. Qualifying for all
36 races, plus running Kevin Conway in 3 more. Joe was able to finish
just one race out of the 36. In these 3 races, Kevin ran a total of 4,
count 'em 4 laps, while winning $234,238. or an average of $58,559.5 per lap.
It would have been $78,079 if he hadn't gotten a little crazy, & run that second lap.
Good work if you can get it.

Another excuse I've heard is that these teams provide employment
in a tough economic environment. OK, things are tough all over. Suppose
that people were hired to build roads that no one was ever going to drive on.
That would provide employment also, but would you consider it money well spent?

I do have to kind of admire Joe Ruttman for showing up at The Rock
in '04 without a pit crew in James Finch's car. I mean at least he was
honest about it. Why would he need a crew? He was allowed to start.
Ka Ching, then was parked by NASCAR on the first lap. Mission

As I said I can understand the strategy, of hanging in, while trying
to put things in place to be able to compete. I just have to wonder,
at what point does it become a business plan?

Both Front Row Racing, & Tommy Baldwin have used the S & P
at times due to economic necessity, but are now racing full time.
More power to them, the only problem is that due to funding, &
the mega-teams. Both programs are mired mostly in the 30's.
Dave Blaney was in line for a good finish at Daytona, until
he was wrecked by Kurt Busch. He steered clear of Kurt at
Talladega, & was able to pull off a third. Got interviewed on
TV afterward. Had to have been a real boost for the team,
as well as Golden Corral, whose Kids Eat Free, promotion
kicked in.

Front Row has both of their cars, the 34, & 38 locked in for the
first 5 races on the new season.

Tommy Baldwin also has the 36 locked in, & is trying to get
the 35 up to speed. I do find Geoffrey Bodine a curious choice
but sounds like he's bringing a little money, & for these teams
money not only talks, it screams.

Kevin Buckler's TRG Racing has come up short, finishing
the season 36th in owners points. Any time teams that really
show up to race, fall out of the top 35, as the 71 did. They
are then subject to being out qualified by the S & P cars.
Thus making it likely that they stay mired below the magic
35th place. Making it that much harder to come up with even
a one race sponsor, much less landing a full season deal.

I'm not meaning to imply that the cars that come to race are in any
better than the S & P teams, quality wise. In fact Joe Nemechek, if he
were to get a little backing, could easily be a solid mid 20's place car.
He regularly qualified well, up among cars with much better backing.
He didn't get the nick name Front Row Joe, for nothing.

For the 71 team next season, finishing 46th shouldn't really be a problem
because of 4 qualified teams going away. At least 2, the 33, & 6, probably
will keep their points & run Daytona. The 33, probably with Austin Dillon,
& the 6, maybe with Ricky Stenhouse. That would leave the slots from the
2 Red Bull cars. So the 71 & 7 should move up based on their finishes.
But this being NA$CAR, & NA$CAR being all about $$$. These spots will
go to the highest bidder, rather than to the next in line. Kevin & Robby
could well end up with them, but they're going to have to pay.

With the shrinkage next year, there will be more opportunities for S & P
teams. Cars are available at bargain rates. Plenty of drivers, with Cup experience,
& skills to get them in the field, & who can blame them?

That begs the question, how many S & P teams are too many?
Next year, instead of 6, we could see 9 or 10.

Here's what I'd really like to see happen. NASCAR could cut the field to 40,
& the 3 less cars would never be missed. Then make the same payout that they
had when the field was at 43. The last thing I'm trying to do is to allow
NASCAR, or Bruton to put more money in their pockets.

In a season when we've lost 4 quality cars, do we really need 4 more field
fillers running around, even if they could get them all to race?
As the field gets weaker, the top 35 rule makes less, & less sense.
The timing is perfect to dump this turkey.

If another of the cuts were to be the past champions provisional,
well I could live with that too.

For an average race this should give them around $200K to work with.
Graduate the money to raise the purse on the bottom third, to help the
teams that need help the most.

Even better would be a pay structure with a straight graduation from
1st, to last, but I'm we'll probably never see that.

For example, at Talladega, Michael Waltrip finished 9th. His payout was
$83,500. Carl finished 11th, his was $128.866. Some of this pay structure
is a holdover from the days when NASCAR promoted 60-70 races a year, & was to induce the top cars to show up. How long ago did that ship sail?

To make sure the money goes where it does the most good, ANY car that falls
out before half way, without a verifiable reason would have their payout cut
by half. In other words, it would no longer be cost effective to S & P.

I want to see the payouts raised, I just hate to see someone like Kevin
Conway who in 3 races, ran 4 laps total, & in each, collected within
500. of what someone got for running the entire race. That's just wrong.
In a perfect world, I'd love to see all cars start that be capable of

Racing is not a perfect world. Never was, never will be. I'd just like see
NASCAR help the teams that are really trying & stop subsidizing the ones
that just show up to take the money & run. Run for home that is.


  1. Im not sure I can agree with you on this one Dawg. First and foremost its not costing Nascar anything. (although you dont know how much I wish it was)The purse as well as other race expenses are paid totally by the race sponsor and other advertisers. That any the TV contract is why there is so little empthasis on changing things. Attendance and concessions are the icing on the cake.
    So if these guys can make a buck so what? Nascar isnt going to reduce its prices either to us or the sponsors if the S&P's go away.

  2. I'd pay out money on a pro-rated lap completed basis. So, if 43rd paid $25,000 and the race was 100 laps, then you'd get $250 per lap completed. In this way, teams couldn't afford to start and park. They'd have to buy sets of tires and bring a pit crew.

  3. First, thank you for your blog here. I think you should write a book about some of the teams that have come and gone in Nascar. Like Bobby Ginn, maybe Sam McMahon III, etc. Some of the bad sponsors that told lies then never paid. Not a vindictive piece, but passing on the stories that we would not hear otherwise. I'm sure you would be the guy to do this.

  4. The prize money SHOULD be paid evenly from 1st to 43rd. There should be no difference whos car or driver finishes. The payout SHOULD NOT be influenced by which driver finishes where. A top tier team should not make more money on a bad day than a small budget team for having a good finish on that very same day. This scale should be the same at each and every racetrack. Not to say that in there hearts these S&P teams dont want to race a whole race but this might give them a reason to want to race more laps or maybe even try to finish a race. A small budget team that can or has a good finish should be rewarded for such a finish. They have worked just as hard or harder due to the fact of not having as good equipment or top quality parts and backup resources, or having as many team members or ENGINEERS and other specialists than the big budget teams do to get these finishes. Maybe them attempting to run the distance and some good finishes could attract one or more sponsors for 36 races, or maybe even give them a chance to hire more taleneted crew members to make there race team better and more consistant.

  5. My point is not that it's costing NASCAR. It's that if a portion of this money were to go to the teams actually racing. Then these struggling teams could become stronger, & more viable, long term. Thanks for your comment.

  6. A quick correction here Dawg - Phoenix Racing is James Finch's team, and Landon Cassil ran most of the races the full distance last year. Phil Parsons owns PRISM Motorsports.

    Great piece. I agree with halving pay for drivers who don't finish half the race. Won't sting for the start and parks as much as pro-rating the winning based on laps completed, and will less penalize a team for an early wreck or engine failure.

  7. I think you have your complaint directed at the wrong people. This isn't the fault of the start and parkers but more of nascars fault. The costs to run a Cup team are so high now, that sponsorship rules everything. And sponsors are seeing less and less value for their money, given the on track product being so poor most weeks.

    Also, poor coverage by the networks in showing all cars in the field each week also contributes to this.

    So the lower tier teams take the worst of it. Do you honestly think these teams would park if they had sponsors on their cars? I still look at Tommy Baldwins team a few years ago. He was a S+P team. Now he has sponsorship and is in the top 35. That's why these guys are going it.

    I will start to be worried about S+P teams when ordinary people off the street start showing up at the track and making races.

  8. Michael,
    Good catch, of course I know that Phoenix is James Finch, & they ran rather than S & P last season. I was thinking Prisom, & I guess my fingers had a mind of their own.
    Nice to see that you were reading, & thinking. That made one of us.

  9. I'll agree with some of the others. I have no problem with the S&Ps. Also I dont think the S&Ps are the only teams that believe they dont have a snow balls chance of winning, probably over half the field feels the same and this is proven by looking at the winners over the years and the teams they are with. Another thing I've never understood, especially on the larger tracks, is when (the rare case)more than 43 cars show up, , they get sent home if they dont qualify. Given you could not let everyone in if they were really slow, but in some instances 4 or 5 teams have been sent home by being off a few hundredths. Seems to me with the economy the way its been you would want as many cars as possible to make the race. Again on the larger tracks you could add them with no problem. Thanks and keep up the good work.