NASCAR has always had the intentions of welcoming and encouraging any entrepreneurs, competition from other professional racing leagues or anybody interested in stock car racing to be a part of their great franchise. The sport has demonstrated a history of certain teams and individuals who exceed the competition and displayed tremendous talent throughout the years.
Jimmie Johnson’s win at Texas Motor Speedway establishes two drivers in eight races having two wins already this year, adding to the trend that only an elite group of drivers and teams have the best chance to be successful in the Sprint Cup Series. Has the gap in the competition level for NASCAR become too large to sustain a realistic opportunity for future investors and young teams?
As with any sport or competition, success can be obtained through many different ways and directions. Natural talent is one intangible that can determine the difference between being good and great. In NASCAR, a solid recent example is the young driver Erik Jones and his incredible racing ability at such a tender age. The youth movement in NASCAR has been ever-growing as of late and with having one shining-star amongst a star filled silhouette is a true sign of pure talent. Jones’ success is not only derived from his natural gift, but that ingredient is what enables him to decipher the formula more quickly and perform early acts of greatness.
In recent years, more than ever, equipment has been one of the most important elements to success in NASCAR. One of the more prominent names associated with quality equipment is Rick Hendrick, owner of NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports, who manufactures and sells Chevrolet racing engines to a myriad of teams within the sport. HMS can be credited with 11 of the last 20 championships at NASCAR’s highest level, resulting in having enough admiration from low-budget teams with interest on their used equipment or negotiating a lease. Even used equipment from NASCAR’s top names can be better than what a young team can put together during a whole off-season. This one aspect can be the overall deciding factor on an aspiring young driver’s future in the sport and may become the downfall of a lot of untapped talent.
One of the more controllable keys to achieving success in NASCAR is the opportunity of experience. A knowledgeable crew chief can be the difference in a top-10 driver or not being able to finish a race. Also, a driver with experience on a track or type of track has the advantage of familiarity with its intricacies over a rookie learning a unique raceway in a couple of practices.
These crucial parts to achieving advancement in the sport display the difference in competition amongst the field in any giving race. Four out of the first eight races of 2015 had less than half the field completing all required laps of a race, resulting in only half the cars on the track with a realistic chance of a winning.
Different ideas can be discussed and experimented with to improve this situation in a proactive manner. NASCAR understands this trend and reacted with some rule changes for 2015 intended to improve the competition. The action to make adjustments in hopes of closer racing is a reassuring act that NASCAR intends to create the best product possible. But is it the changes that hinder the teams lacking in competition time from figuring out the recipe to winning? NASCAR may want to keep the same equipment and rule package for an extended period of time to let younger teams develop enough to keep up with the pack.
To improve winning opportunities, NASCAR rules allow the highest position car not on the lead lap to gain a lap during a caution in hopes of improving chances for multiple contenders in a race. This rule has seen many exciting comebacks and has been a solid reaction to lopsided affairs from increasing. With that success, a second car should be added for this rule until a more level racing field can be established or just on certain tracks.
As the sport is now, entertainment is not an issue, but if certain trends continue, sponsorship will be harder for single-car teams and the competition gap will be a deterrent to outsiders. This issue may have a serious effect on the future of NASCAR and may need more attention now to secure great racing from the world’s best stock car drivers for years to come.