Not a day goes by where either on Sirius NASCAR or in the press itself someone is talking about NASCARs top 35 rule and how it is bad for NASCAR and possibly ruining NASCAR. This could not be further from the case. The whole idea of NASCARs top 35 rule is to give car owners and their sponsors some stability in making races. The idea is that if a car owner is guaranteed to make a race regardless of qualifying circumstances he could get and retain sponsors. This in turn would make those teams better funded and better able to compete week to week. Saying that or in this case seeing it in print doesn’t really show the value of it.
Consider what might happen if a team was not locked in to the top 35 and they go out to qualify. What if after taking the green flag their engine unexpectedly blows thereby not allowing them to have a fast time such that they miss the race. What if they run the first qualifying lap on a track that requires the warm up lap and the first qualifying lap to get up to speed then they blow a tire on the second and final lap and thereby miss the race. What if that car is driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. so he misses the race? That is what the top 35 rule is all about. Worrying about this rule may not be as important anymore.
When reviewing the Owner points, which are the points used when the top 35 rule is invoked, one can see what you would expect. Each car is separated by a few points from the car currently in first place on down. If the top 35 rule was a problem, the top 35 cars would be separated from the rest by a large margin. That is somewhat true but there is bigger separation from the 26th car driven by Kurt Busch and 27th car driven by Kasey Kahne. The separation really happens just before the 28th car in owner points driven by Casey Mears. There are 28 points or more than ½ of a race between the 26th car and the 28th car. There is more than one full race between the 26th car and 35th car. These teams are underfunded and consequently not performing.
Expect this gap to widen when Kasey Kahne stops having the worst luck of all the drivers on the race track. It has also been reported that Kurt Busch’s Phoenix Racing team might be having sponsorship troubles exactly like we are discussing right now. Note there is 27 points separating the 36th car and the 37th.
Race fans, now is the time to support the sponsors. NASCAR needs them now more than ever.
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