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DATE News (chronologically)
01/23/11
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Managed Racing: NASCAR still changing 2011 rules
NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500, takes the green flag four weeks from today and yet the rules package for 2011 is still in flux.

Only in NASCAR.

Step back for a moment and visualize the NFL, the nation's premier professional sports league, changing the rules a month before its Super Bowl.

It wouldn't happen. But then again, NASCAR is NASCAR and if it wants to tweak the rules a month before its Super Bowl then dang it, it will. In fact, if it wanted to turn the sport on its head and decree that's how things will be done this season, it could.

But rest assured, things are not happening in a vacuum. NASCAR President Mike Helton told reporters at Daytona that the sanctioning body has been meeting with stakeholders (translation: sponsors, TV partners, track owners, promoters, team owners, teams, drivers, and fans) since last summer to take their temperature on various issues and possible changes.

But here we are four weeks away from the Daytona 500 and the beginning of the 2011 season and the main unresolved issues -- at least publicly -- are adoption of the new point system that awards 43 points to the winner of a race and one to the loser, whether bonus points will be awarded and what -- if any -- tweaks there will be to the format of the final 10-race championship playoff.

Also, the starting time for races is unresolved, but that falls outside the rules. That's essentially the purview of NASCAR and its TV partners, but the fans have a big stake as well and in the end will determine whether any changes succeed or fail.

In essence the fans will vote with their wallets for race tickets -- which has seen a decline -- or their leisure time for watching the races on TV, which also has fallen.

And according to NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton, fans are not shy about sharing their sentiments about what they are seeing or want to see. Florida Today

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