Hot 20 or whatever the number of NASCAR fans who remain after yet another damn rule change

NASCAR can drive its fans crazy. I say its fans, as those not already invested could not care less what the sport does. For those of us who still do, another damned on the fly rule change is not what we were hoping for. The World 600, as it should be known unless you are devoted to Coca-Cola, will have not two but now three stages to pick up participation or pity points before the finish. Hallelujah!

Oh, you might have detected a wee bit of sarcasm. Let me be clear, unlike many, I actually like awarding points for stages. I just think they give away too many. Give the top five points, with five being the maximum awarded to the stage “winner”, and it would be a little more honest. Right now, you sit in 11th throughout the race before taking the win, you get 40 points. Run first through both stages, then finish 11th at the end, when it is supposed to count, and you get to claim 46. That makes sense?

I guess it makes about as much as adding, at the last minute, an additional stage for the longest race of the season. The winner will get their 40 points, and that 11th place driver who takes the opening three stages before fading in the end picks up 56. Really. Making the sport a farce does not exactly build my confidence that this in any way is going to convince anyone to return to the seats or in front of their television sets. By the way, does anyone think the way to young fans’ hearts is through an energy drink? But, I digress.

Maybe, in time for Sonoma, someone might come up with the idea to reduce that 110-lap, 219-mile event to just one stage. Maybe give the winner of that single stage 20 points, and give those in the front half of the field that pity bonus. Sure, you are probably saying that to do such a thing would be incredibly stupid to do. Sadly, that has not stopped NASCAR before.

In 2007, six members of my family were seated in the backstretch grandstand to watch the Daytona 500. Not only does that grandstand no longer exist, but four of those folks no longer watch the races and none watch the action on television live anymore. We have football, baseball, and hockey who all want our support. Have you ever seen the football they play in Australia? Real men wearing short pants in full contact action, and no on the fly rule changes to drive their fans insane.

There might be a lesson to be learned here. Of course, it won’t be learned, and there lies the problem.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


  1. Great article. Couldn’t agree with you more. The tv ratings and live attendence have been in free fall since Brian started all of his non sense. Would they be removing grand stand seating if they thought the fans were going to return? When the current tv contract expires the sport is going to be in a heap of trouble. Currently the teams are taking it on the chin as we continue to see many first tier teams struggle to find sponsorship, Stewart-Haas for example.


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