Show Me The Money!

(Bruton Smith photo courtesy

Forget tweaking the points system and the Chase. One of NASCAR’s most influential people thinks it’s time to take a radical new approach to the sport.

O. Bruton Smith, Chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns eight Sprint Cup tracks, chief among which are Charlotte, Texas, Infineon, and Las Vegas, said Tuesday that the Chase for the Sprint Cup format may not be around in a year or two. And to him, that’s not a bad thing.

If you want to get people’s attention, he says, make it more about the money!

Despite the fact that the difference between first and second entering the 2010 season finale was the closest in the seven-year history of the Chase, Smith contends the program is not connecting with the fans. Smith says the Chase “started out as a good idea” but that it has run its course.

“I think it started off being very important, but I don’t think it’s as important as maybe we thought it would be,” Smith said. “We may be looking around here in another year or two and maybe we have done something differently and we no longer have the Chase. That’s my thinking. In one or two more years, we’ll find out. That’s just my opinion.”

NASCAR is expected to finalize its new points system Wednesday — offering a sliding scale with 43 points to the winner down to one point for 43rd, along with one point for leading a lap, one point for most laps led and two to three additional points to the winner.

While Smith has tremendous respect for NASCAR chairman Brian France and speaks with him on a regular basis, he questions whether changing the points system will have any effect on enticing new fans. Smith still believes a cash reward is the answer.

“With this (proposed) point system, I don’t know if it’s that big of a thing,” Smith said. “We could cure this whole thing with the purse. That’s the whole thing. We’ve tried this many, many times over. Money. You’ve heard them say, ‘follow the money?’ These race car drivers will follow the money.

“Look at the all-star event. It pays a million dollars to win and who cares about second? I think it pays two (places), maybe $350,000 for second place, so that’s the reason the all-star race is such a good race. That the reason people like to come is because they know they’re going to see a fabulous race.”

Smith admits he’s “sick and tired” of hearing about points. If he had his way, NASCAR would take half of the current pool of money distributed to teams at the end of the season based on points and allocate it to individual race purses. He believes that would incite buzz.

“These fans aren’t interested in points, they’re not,” Smith said. “If you can have a huge difference in the money between first and second, that’s where there’s a real race going on. Imagine sitting up in the stands and you know there’s a big spread between first and second. You’re not going to leave if second is six car lengths behind.

“Say there’s $400,000 between first and second. You’re going to stay because you know there’s going to be a helluva finish. Don’t ya? That’s what I want to see. As a race fan I want to see some serious racing. It’s going to be balls out! That’s what fans want to see.”

What do you think about Bruton’s idea of, “show me the money”!


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