Dale Earnhardt Jr: “It killed nearly all of the fake debris yellows”
Yesterday, a video surfaced on the Reddit NASCAR page. Said video featured a montage of drivers disliking the idea of segment racing. The 2012 video was a look into the future, only none of us realized it at the time.
Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards all were aggressively against the new idea. They were responding to the idea of segment racing which was brought up by Bruton Smith. At the time, stage point were not a part of the idea.
In 2012, they were discussing the idea of random yellows, without the points attached. I think that’s worth noting as you watch the video below.
“Same guy that ruined Bristol,” Kevin Harvick responded to Bruton Smith’s 2012 idea.
“Well, now it’s two races. Where the first race doesn’t even matter. It’s my opinion that, that takes something away from the sport,” Carl Edwards was the most vocal.
Watch the video below.
Bringing this story into the current time period, stage racing is here. Two stage and a checkered flag later, the video has resurfaced. Brad Keseowski was to first to comment on the video from the past.
Brad Keselowski: “I like stage races, because there is a reward at the end of each one of them. This random caution idea had no such premise to it and was universally disliked by all the drivers I know. Thus the discrepancies in opinions,” Brad Keselowski stated via twitter.
The tweet from the Team Penske driver the ball rolling.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: “Stage racing is fine with me as well, if only because it killed nearly all of the fake debris yellows. Also, there are $$ to be made in a viable fantasy format in a NASCAR with mid race rewards.”
“And the lag back at Talladega,” Brad Keselowski responds to the reply from Dale Jr.
Brad Keselowski is explaining that in restrictor plate racing you have to go hard the entire time. Which was certainly a major selling point of stage racing from the beginning.
Dale Earnhardt Jr continued the stage racing debate:
Dale Earnhardt Jr was soon pestered by a few fans after his comments. “What about, you know, just racing. No stages, no fake flags?,” Matt Haiduk asked of NASCAR’s multi-time Most Popular Driver.
“I used to fight this fight. At some point you have to realize that you’re just swimming against the current. At that point you join the discussion to try and be part of a solution,” Dale JR responded.
The questions from fans didn’t stop there. “So just become a sheep then?,” a NASCAR fan named Cody asked Dale Jr.
“If change is coming regardless you can stand outside and complain/be miserable or join the conversation and be part of a satisfactory resolution,” Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr replied.
“Would you have lobbied for stages in a late model race that you dominate such as the one you spoke of this morning at Nashville or just rather run the piss out of it until the end,” Brian Brewster asked.
“I wouldn’t have wanted stages then. But in either case the choice wasn’t up to me,” Dale Earnhardt Jr concluded.
Martinsville Speedway: “Stage racing was made for short tracks. Has been AWESOME at our races,” Martinsville Speedway jumped into the conversation.
NASCAR comments on stage racing
Since this post is more or less a collection of thoughts from the industry on the new NASCAR format, I thought it would be a good idea to add this section as well. Below are recent comments from the higher-ups at the sanctioning body.
Brian France: “You know, it’s un-natural in auto racing too. Auto racing is largely built on consistency. Throughout our history and all over the place,” Brian France recently spoke on the stage racing.
The reality is, certainly, that we changed that. The consistency certainly matters but boy you gotta compete, every time and every lap,” France concluded.
Recently, the new NASCAR president, Brent Dewar explained the birth of stage racing. The idea came about mostly for the sake of the TV audience. Stage racing allows for planned commercial breaks. In turn, that allows for more green flag coverage.
Brent Dewar: “One of the projects this year, we stepped back and said, ‘Look, what are we trying to solve for?” Our fans love green flag racing. Motorsports is one of those few sports where you actually break for commercial, during the race.”
“We obviously need the commercial aspect of that with our broadcast partners. So, they sat down and created what you know today as the stage racing. More green flag racing. More side by side, we call it ‘NASCAR non-stop.’ And our fans are eating it up.”
NASCAR drivers discusses stage racing
The video above is from a 2012 press conference at Daytona International Speedway. It’s the video that sparked the recent discussion.
Bruton Smith introduced the idea to break up the longer races with mandatory cautions. It was the first concept of stage racing. At the time, the segment finishes didn’t include stage points.
Stage points now force drivers to race through each segment, which wasn’t a part of the original idea. That should be noted as many of the drivers above said the stages wouldn’t matter.
Related: 2017 debris caution numbers down
Related: Mark Martin loves stage racing