How did you feel about the Can-Am Duels this year? The races were interesting, mostly due to the unpredictable nature of the superspeedway aero packages this year, but one analyst thinks there were missing something.
Nate Ryan of NBCSports sees a lack of interest during the week leading up to the Daytona 500 and proposes a big change to bring back the fans. The biggest problem, Ryan says, is that there is no drama in qualifying or the duels since every car entered is guaranteed to make the final field.
He suggests getting rid of traditional qualifying altogether. Instead, starting with the clash the week before, starting positions would be determined by heat races, with racing every day of the week leading up to the main event.
He also suggests shrinking the field for the 500, making it possible that some cars won't make it without performing. This would add drama to the week as teams couldn't take it easy in a qualification race to preserve their car, knowing they have a guaranteed spot in the final race.
The added benefit is giving drivers a lot more practice time on track in real racing conditions. Time that would have been welcomed this year with the new rules producing big setup challenges for teams and drivers.
We can get behind scrapping the qualifying session since very little can be learned at a superspeedway by running a car on track for two laps in clean air. Actually, none of Ryan's suggested changes strike us as a bad idea, but we do wonder if it would really change much in terms of interest.
Ryan ascribes the lack of interest to the lack of drama, and that is definitely a factor, but ratings and ticket sales are down across the board, not just at Speedweeks. Even in its heyday, NASCAR had some clunkers when it came to boring races, but that didn't stop people from tuning in. Improving the product should always be the aim, and these changes would provide some interesting races, but until NASCAR can figure out what the underlying issue is to the lack of interest, it won't be enough.