Dear NASCAR: On The Top 35, The Chase, Infractions And More

Many NASCAR fans say they still like to watch races on TV, or attend them in person at tracks like Phoenix, but add they would like to see NASCAR make some policy changes in certain areas to enhance their enjoyment.


After polling my readership I have found that the same topics keep surfacing – and that prompts me to make them subjects of my articles.

Some of these have to do with monetary issues, others with leadership, and still more deal with an overall dissatisfaction with perceived facts about the sport we all love.

My goal is to present these topics, in no particular order, to start a dialogue but also to allay fears and suspicions, bring back an overall joy to the sport and generate some honest-to-goodness debate, all healthy and good-natured.

First, it’s apparently time to do away with the Top 35 Rule; long past due, really. The system is inherently flawed, frustrating, and quickly undoing NASCAR’s fandom’s trust.

The fans want the teams to race to qualify, line up, pit, and make their way onto the grid. “Funny business” of extending a position to a team whose driver did not qualify raises the ire of most NASCAR fans.

The Chase is another factor of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing that leaves many cold. Creating a “playoff” system when there are 43 teams vying for wins each and every week, working toward improving their station, and attracting hard-earned sponsorship dollars seems wrong.

If a team is not in the Chase it does not get the media coverage and, therefore, may not get the exposure necessary to keep or attract advertisers/sponsors.

Let all the drivers have at it for the entire season; no separation of 12 drivers with 10 races to go. No clearing of points. Let the entire season play out over 36 races. If history has shown us showed this can lead to boring championship, then fix the points structure, but get rid of the Chase.

Be strong but be fair. Too often in the recent past there have been instances of rulings handed out for infractions that were not applied to similar misdeeds. Or, in some cases, others were treated more harshly. NASCAR is the governing body and what it says goes, period.

But consistency is key for all to understand and thus play by the rules. Like parents must constantly and consistently set rules and boundaries for their children to follow, so must NASCAR. By not doing so the “children” (drivers & their teams) become unruly and unmanageable.

Fans realize NASCAR's at-track management team is responsible for enforcing the rules, but add they would like to see it be equal across the board.

Bring the joy back to the sport. Too often fans are complaining about yesteryear or the state of the economy.

NASCAR is about escapism, entertainment, and good ol’ fashioned fun! Let’s recoup some of the exuberance of the past and mix it with the fun-filled sensibilities of the present. NASCAR fans, old and new, must be able to agree on what exactly good racing is.

Let the drivers do what they are so dang good at week in and week out without sucking the fun out of the fans’ enjoyment.

NASCAR began as a way to make money by entertaining the crowds with fantastic racing. Let’s get back to that!

There are more topics that surreptitiously dripped out of the mouths of fans I canvassed, but these were the primary ones that crossed the board.

NASCAR has a Herculean task to put on 36 entertaining, lively, and watchable races both live and for the fans at home. It is criticized, scrutinized, thrown under the bus, and lambasted regularly.

But, for all they may get wrong or not wholly right, they certainly give all of us a sport to which we follow religiously, care for passionately, and clamor for desperately in the off season.

And as for entertainment value, I’ve been getting mine for well over twenty years. I have had my fandom reinstated after the fateful blow of losing my one and only driver in 2001, and have come full circle embracing all of the drivers on the field.

NASCAR gets a passing grade from me, but I still have to stuff the “suggestion box” with the preceding information.

With total respect I am sincerely yours,

Candice Smith

NASCAR fan since 1990

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