Woot! I'm totally stoked about the start of the new season, and this past weekends ARCA race and Bud Shootout were just what was needed to get the ball rolling. The ARCA race was good fun, and the Shootout was a blast.
Now about the shootout… sure, the racing was good, but how could it not be? Any time you take a bunch of Sprint Cup guys and put them on track at Daytona, it's going to be good. The commentators were talking about how it was still good in spite of the changes they made to the format, but that doesn't change the fact that the new format is stupid.
I understand that Bud doesn't want to promote the pole winners now that the pole award is sponsored by Coors. You can't really argue with that. I'm sure everyone involved spent a good deal of time scratching their heads to come up with some new format that made at least a little bit of sense before coming up with this "manufacturers race" idea. Sadly, they just didn't take it far enough.
Sure, you're giving equal representation to each of the manufacturers, but so what? Who cares? Everyone out there still just wants to win the race, and will work with whoever they think will help them. Nobody cared about which manufacturer would win, so ultimately I see this "focus" on the makers as meaningless.
Now here's my suggestion to make it work.
If I'm not mistaken, the winner of the race got $200k. I don't know whether there was money for the rest of the field or not, but if there was, nobody seemed to care.
What they need to add is an additional prize of $200k to every team of the winning manufacturer IF they can sweep the podium.
Restrictor plate racing is unique in that you just can't win the race without teamwork, but as it is, there's really no incentive to pick your partners beyond just going with who you think will bring you up front. If there was a meaningful award for the cars of any particular manufacturer to work together, then you might get some really interesting things happening that couldn't happen anywhere else. Picture 3-wide racing with Ford, Chevy, and Toyota each in a lane trying to push ahead. Now THAT would be exciting and completely unique.
This would give this race an identity again and make it something more interesting than just a practice session for the drivers lucky enough to be involved. They'd have to do things differently than they would in a regular race.
I suppose there's a chance it could end up being a boring parade if people aren't jockying their way between the rows for position, but there's 4 manufacturers and, at best, 3 lanes of racing so there's going to be fireworks and there's still going to be people trying to get to the front and others trying to stop them from doing it.
If it ended up boring, then so be it, but it's at least worth a shot. As things stand, the whole thing, while still fun to watch, is really utterly pointless.