March 29, 2010

ARCHIVES                                         

By Brian Danko

When NASCAR announced back a couple of weeks ago, that it was cutting the number of drivers and owners participating in the season ending points fund, it certainly caused some drivers and owners to be quite upset.

In the past, NASCAR used to reward the top 20 drivers in points with season ending money, which most teams will tell you kept them coming back the following year but now with the news that NASCAR is only paying out the top 15 in points, it will be interested in seeing if the number of teams that follow any of NASCAR’s touring series remain the same.

One driver told me, “They send out a notice that because of the economy they weren’t going to cut our purses but in the next paragraph, that they are cutting the number of teams in the payout by 25%.”

Last year, a total of 17 drivers on the modified tour went to each and every race and if that number follows through this year, two drivers who supported the tour will be on the outside looking in.

One of those driver affected would have been  Wade Cole, one of the most loyal and likeable drivers on the modified tour and a driver you can count on in good times and in bad. Pulling up to the gates of a modified tour race in his open air hauler and parking next to the many Cup style trailers dotting the pit area.

So, as per the ‘new’ Danko this year, I called NASCAR to get their thinking behind this controversial cost cutting measure.

I contacted Jason Christley of the NASCAR public relations department and a former auto writer for the New London, CT Day newspaper.

“The money provided by the manufactures and series sponsors are down, thus the money payouts are down” Jason said adding, “the points fund is intended to reward teams who run the whole series.”

Christley also said that this decision is across the board on all of NASCAR’s touring series including the NASCAR Southern modified tour, the K&N East and West series as well as the Canadian Tire series.

NASCAR did inform the teams running on the Sprint Cup series, the Nationwide series and the Truck series that their purses are being cut by 10% for the year.

When I asked why not keep the 20 points in the standing and reduce the payout accordingly, Christley said it wasn’t an option.

“We talked about it but it was never an option. This is the decision that we made and it was to get the top with the same payouts.”

Christley did say that this was being done because of the economy and that it would be revisited at the end of the season and before the start of the following season.

Now various reports of actually how much less is being paid out by the sponsors and one must wonder if NASCAR is reducing the contributions of each of their member tracks holding a touring series race.

NASCAR, even though it is a multimillion dollar business is being affected by this down economy but so are the teams who compete on each of their series and while racing is an expensive sport, regardless of the economy, everyone must make concessions but this seems to extreme, even for NASCAR.

NASCAR ANNOUNCES 2010 TV SCHEDULE FOR TOURS

NASCAR as promised,  has delivered on giving the modified tour more television exposure and as to date, the NASCAR Whelen modified tour will have a total of 7 events on the Speed Channel and to date more than 9 dates are expected to be announced for the modified tour and the Southern modified tour on Versus.

Three of the modified tour events will be shown as same day televised events.

“Our NASCAR Developmental series all have a strong and passionate fan base, and we saw the results in the viewership of last year’s events.” George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations said. “Our fans spoke, and we listened. We are thrilled to be able to work with our television partners to provide extensive coverage of the talented drivers and tracks that help form the foundation of the sport.”

Speed, in conjunction with NASCAR Media Group, will air each tape delayed race as a one-hour show. Speed will once again provide same-day coverage of the combination event between the NASCAR Whelen modified tour and the Whelen Southern tour at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 18th as well as the NASCAR Whelen modified tour race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 18.

The airing dates for the Southern modified tour is as follows, Thursday, April 29th at 6 p.m. from the South Boston Speedway as well as the combination race at Bristol on August 18th.

The NASCAR Whelen modified tour will have air dates of the June 6th Martinsville Speedway race, and the June 26th running at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. These races dates are to be determined.

Air dates confirmed on Speedway are Thursday, July 22nd for the Lime Rock, CT race, Wednesday, August 18th for the Bristol Motor Speedway race, Thursday, August 26th for a re-airing of the Bristol race and Saturday, September 18th for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway race and then October 14th for a re-airing of the same event.

BOBBY SANTOS IN MYSTIC MISSILE

When Donny Lia suddenly departed from the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile #4 and elected not to defend his title and run the Truck series, it left Garbarino in a tough position of having to select a new driver or contemplate retiring as a car owner of more than 50 years.

Thankfully, for the modified tour, Garbarino is back and he is putting in the highly competitive driver of Bobby Santos in the championship car.

The list of drivers that reportedly Garbarino was interested in according to various reports was Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink with Santos, a veteran of the open wheel midgets and sprint cars getting the ride.

Car owners on other national touring series have all missed the boat before on Santos and he will be a contender for the title although he has only run less than 30 Whelen modified tour events.

While Santos is a great choice, Doug Coby is always the driver on the outside looking in. Coby has won on the modified tour and is always a top contender for a ride, especially when a mid-season change is made.

Like many drivers with loads of talent, unfortunately, talent doesn’t pay the bills as most car owners are looking for sponsorship for a ride in their cars but if someone wants to win take a gamble on Coby, he is a proven winner.