Mark Martin warns of pending changes alienating what remains of the old-time NASCAR crowd
Martin: NASCAR is suppose to be the ‘hardest, most difficult’ thing for a race car driver
NASCAR is on the brink of changing it’s image. One could argue they’ve been doing that since around 2006.
But, there will be no bigger change closer to a racing apocalypse than installing restrictor plates on all tracks that exceed 1.5-miles. That changes the fundamentals of the entire sport.
Taking the power away bunches up the field and makes the racing appear far more entertaining. But, the drivers are no longer on the edge of control. From that aspect, it’s lame.
“I would argue that there is a much lesser and a different skill set at Daytona and Talladega,” Mark Martin stated from the Michigan International Speedway media center.
“It’s much easier for someone to win one of those races. Than it is, one of these races. You can’t argue that point.”
“Racing in NASCAR is suppose to be the hardest, most difficult thing that you could ever try to do as a race car driver.”
“It really really hurts me to think about, if we’re gonna change that to satisfy Johnny-Come-Lately fans. What’s wrong with the sport being what it is?”
“You gotta be careful — There’s a lot of old-time supporters of this sport that are already dissatisfied with [the] changes. You don’t want to alienate the rest of those. Trying to appeal to what appears to me like — an impossible situation to satisfy. Some of the newer fans of the sport.”
“I just don’t think it’s possible. And I also don’t think you can make everybody happy. You have to look at the whole sport. And if 50% is for something then 50% is not.”
“There is some integrity that I feel needs to be maintained in this sport. There are some issues that could be addressed about our racing. But, artificially making the racing exciting for a portion of the fans — I’d rather see that in yesterday’s [Xfinity] race.”
Mark Martin isn’t a dinosaur that’s just against change. That’s not what we’re talking about. In the past, he’s made comments that he’s in favor of the playoffs, double-file restarts and stage racing.
“I’ve bought into many of the changes. I’m good with the segment racing. I like it!”
Related: Mark Martin loves stage racing
“I said 20 years ago that these cars had outgrown Daytona and Talladega. They’re almost to outgrown — And I said they were going to — They’ll outgrow these other speedways.”
In the second practice for the 2018 All-Star race Kyle Larson turned the quickest lap. His average speed was 173.305. The next week, Coca-Cola 600 saw practice speeds of 190.134. That’s nearly 10% of the speed, gone.
“I just don’t think making these races more Daytona and Talladega style… I don’t have a lot of interest in watching that. And I’m the biggest fan out there. I watch every race.”
“I know cause I see people all the time. They say, ‘Hey, I don’t like all these changes.’ I say, ‘Well, I do.’ But, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do to turn our racing at all these mile and a half’s and bigger into restrictor plate style racing.”
“That’s just my opinion and I think there’s a lot of people that agree with me. Fans. I’m not a driver anymore. I think there’s a lot of fans that agree with that.”
There’s an argument to be made that Daytona and Talladega are harder to win as more people have a shot at winning. Mark Martin is easily one of the best NASCAR drivers to ever compete in the sport. Yet, he doesn’t have a Daytona 500 win attached to his accomplishments.
However, that again isn’t what Mark is pointing out. He talking about the need for the cars themselves be hard to drive. The best drivers in NASCAR should be controlling the hardest race cars.
Mark Martin explains…
“Do you not care anything about the other side of that? The history of the sport. The appeal of racing, the way it was from the very beginning. That was a different skill set than taking cars and choking them off. It’s not the same kind of racing.”
“Yeah, it’s hard to win at Daytona and Talladega. And they’re interesting races. I like watching them. But, I don’t wanna see that every week. I’m not speaking as a driver. I’m speaking as a fan.”
Restrictor plate package in 2019?
As the cars go faster, the aerodynamics become more important. Every year, they go faster. As a result, the racing at 1.5-mile and larger tracks becomes more boring. Every year, it’s harder for drivers to trail a car with the air removed from the nose. Speed is great. But, all that stuff is horrible for racing.
The restrictor plate package is designed to slow the cars down and take away about 10% of that. That’s a large part of what made the All-Star race so good. But, at the same time, the drivers were in complete control, which isn’t good.
NASCAR is crunching the numbers and an announcement one way or the other is expected soon. The next time NASCAR returns to Michigan International Speedway, they’ll likely be testing the restrictor plate package, in a points paying race.
From there, if NASCAR likes the feedback they receive, it’s highly likely that package will be introduced across the board at all tracks larger than 1.5-mile tracks for 2019. If that’s the case, 28 of 41 races would see the use of a restrictor plate.