Improve NASCAR? Some suggestions ...

July, 16, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR introduced 11 initiatives on Monday that officials insist will take the sport into the future in terms of technology and transparency.

If they accomplish half of them, it will improve the sport. It may even bring in a younger audience, which is much needed for growth.

Personally, the promise to fix the broken appeals process that has been successfully challenged several times over the past year and a half and coming up with a fixed set of punishments for penalties was welcome news.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesIf Dale Earnhardt Jr. could navigate his way to Victory Lane more often, NASCAR -- and his huge fan base -- certainly would benefit.

But those initiatives won't be fully in place until 2015 because officials haven't quite decided on the details to plug into their generalities.

So while we're waiting, here are 11 initiatives that could be implemented now and would give the sport an immediate bump:

• Find a way to get Dale Earnhardt Jr. into Victory Lane at least twice a season. NASCAR's most popular driver has to win more than once every four years at Michigan to keep his large fan base interested.

• Make Jimmie Johnson start from the back every race, as he did this past weekend at New Hampshire. It will cut down on his dominance, which many of you claim is ruining the sport. It also may convince many of you just how good he is.

• Change at least half the 10 Chase races every year. Do it a year in advance so tracks have time to sell tickets and develop marketing campaigns, but shake things up. And guarantee one of those races will be a road course.

• Cut the schedule to 30 races and add a few midweek races.

• Shorten races to where they typically won't last more than three hours and have two-day shows maximum. And add a halftime break for teams to work on their cars.

• Limit Sprint Cup regulars to no more than six Nationwide and/or Truck races a year and don't allow them to drive something owned by their Cup teams.

• Have a draft. It gets a lot of attention in the NFL and NBA. Each team would select one driver below the Cup series level, with the draft order set by points from the previous year. Worst team gets first pick. If the team doesn't commit to putting that driver in five races -- they wouldn't count against the four-car limit -- at the start of their second year, they go back into the draft. Seventy-one-year-olds not eligible.

• Give a bonus point to the driver who offers the best insult to a fellow driver after a race. For example, Kyle Busch would get a point for calling Ryan Newman an "ogre'' and "idiot.'' Unless, that is, the three-man media judging panel believed Newman deserved the point for saying Busch wasn't "very bright.''

• Wins get six bonus points instead of three. Make it worth something.

• To set the field, have a random draw to invert the field by 12 cars somewhere between first and 10th in qualifying. In other words, if the draw was fourth place in qualifying, then fourth through 16th would go to the back to start the race. Except for Johnson, who must always start last.

• Get Danica Patrick to date Earnhardt instead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and create the biggest power couple in sports.

Four-wide restarts and a Lucky Lucky Dog -- first driver 10 or more laps back moves onto the lead lap when a debris caution comes out -- were considered but rejected.

But who knows, between now and 2015 they could be reintroduced.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer
David Newton is an NFL reporter at ESPN and covers the Carolina Panthers. Newton began covering Carolina in 1995 and came to ESPN in 2006 as a NASCAR reporter before joining NFL Nation in 2013. You can follow Newton on Twitter at @DNewtonespn.


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