The first green flag of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is set to drop Saturday evening with the Sprint Unlimited. The race has undergone several changes between the rules for driver and team entry and several name changes as well. This year’s event marks the first time that the event has not been sponsored by an Anheuser-Busch product and it also marks the return of the race entry package that long-time fans were accustomed to for many years. In addition, NASCAR and Sprint are providing fans the opportunity to vote for the race format as well as other rules that will be enforced.
There is a lot I like about the new format of the race and a lot that I do not. When I heard the race was returning to allowing only the 2012 pole winners and previous champions of the event I was thrilled. For me, the race lost a lot of its luster when as much as 28 cars started the event and the entry rules weren’t only convoluted but just plain stupid. Besides, the whole purpose of the event was to put the fastest drivers from the previous season in a race where they threw caution to the wind. Unfortunately, that mentality has all but been eliminated as more laps have been added to the event.
While I understand why NASCAR and Sprint would allow fans to vote on various rules for the race, I don’t particularly care for it. Ideally, I’d like the race to go back to what it was, a real shootout. Two ten-lap segments with a full-field inversion after the first segment. Unfortunately in today’s NASCAR that is not a realistic format. With the race being a 75-lap affair, I would prefer to see the race be run from start to finish like a regular race without any outside rules.
In my view, breaking a rather lengthy race into segments does not make any sense, especially since the race is at Daytona. The whole idea of putting segments into an event like this is to bunch the pack back up. That isn’t necessary at Daytona where the majority of the field will be running within a second of each other. I’m also not too keen on the potential of up to six drivers being eliminated from the race. With only 19 starters, it’s very possible that six or more cars could already be eliminated before the vote is even announced and for an event that has less than the standard starting field in a regular race, it really isn’t needed.
It’s possible that these changes could be of positive benefit to the race and make the event more exciting than it would be, but I have my doubts.