While it may not be universally hated, stage racing in NASCAR is certainly LOUDLY hated by a lot of fans. The tweak, instituted this year, has been hailed as a success by NASCAR brass, but not everyone is on board.
Brian France, though, is sticking to his talking points.
“The whole idea was you can’t relax,” France said on America’s SiriusXM radio via Autosport.com. “Every lap matters, stages matter. Many years ago, you could cruise around and build up a big point lead. [Now] you can’t cruise around at all, you’ve got to be on it. I think that’s what people really enjoy. I’ve always believed that brings out the biggest moments, too. It brings out the driver talent. Almost every year at Homestead, the top three or four in finishing order are usually the top playoff contenders.
“What does that tell you? Like any athlete, when they have to do exceptional things, they rise to the moment. And that’s fun to watch.”
While not many would argue against the theory of making the beginning and middle of races just as exciting at the end, the implementation of the stage racing format has been criticized from a fan perspective for adding long caution periods at the end of each stage and also for altering the pit strategies of teams.
France did address the strategy aspect when he said:
“More of the drivers and teams will adapt to the strategy. Consistency certainly matters but, you have to compete, every lap. And I think that brings out the best in the drivers and teams, the strategies, the effort. It’s exciting to watch. It’s a great format, and it only gets better as the teams and drivers embrace the strategy necessary to compete.”
Fans better get used to the stages. They aren’t going anywhere any time soon.