Whether you like the changes that are coming to NASCAR in 2014 or not, no one can deny that it’s going to be wild. One contingent that should be very excited for the upcoming season, are the underfunded teams. The altercations to qualifying and the proposed changes to the Chase are going to be great for NASCAR’s smaller outfits. I don’t know if helping out the little guys is part of what NASCAR was aiming for with these changes, but kudos anyway.
The new qualifying format is going to increase the excitement of this usually monotonous session exponentially. It also gives new hope to the teams that qualify 25th or worse on a weekly basis. This new format sets up a chance for them to qualify much higher and at a couple events, maybe even end up on pole. Obviously, if we have a session that goes off without a hitch and nothing really major happens, these teams will most likely qualify in their usual positions. When faster drivers make mistakes, crash, get blocked or run out of time, though, it sets up an advantageous scenario for these underdog organizations to advance and qualify higher than the car’s capabilities.
There are three races during the year where they could realistically earn pole position. I’m referring to both of the races at Talladega and the July event at Daytona. Under this new format, drafting is allowed in qualifying, so it’s anybody’s guess who will come away with the pole in those three events. The Daytona 500 is still using its traditional way of setting the grid, but the Duels still give an opportunity for these back-markers to qualify fairly high. When a smaller team grabs a pole and consequently, a lot of publicity, it prompts interested sponsors to jump on board.
The changes that are coming to the Chase could be huge for the NASCAR’s underfunded organizations. In 2013, David Ragan won Talladega in a spectacular display of David defeating Goliath. Under this new system, that victory would have earned him a place in NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. A team like that making the Chase would open up a thousand doors for them as they try to build up their operation. The publicity for an underdog team that makes the Chase would get is a sponsor’s dream. Every sponsor wants to be in the Chase and when you have a small team that is in the postseason discussion, they’ll certainly of much interest. Also, a group like Front Row Motorsports is a heck of a lot cheaper to partner with than a Hendrick Motorsports-like outfit.
Basically, these changes will help the underdogs of NASCAR earn more money in 2014, gain some more of that oh-so valuable publicity, and most crucially, attract new sponsors.
Nick DeGroot is a Contributing Writer for Rant Sports NASCAR. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89.