Whatever you think of ‘start-and-park' race teams, beginning this season, those in the back will receive less prize money than before, while the more successful cars will get an increase in purse funds.
According to ESPN, the head of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing explained the rationale saying, “We moved prize money higher in the purse, so if someone's intent is solely to run a lap or two and park, the revenue stream shrinks,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said Tuesday during an ‘Autoweek’ panel discussion in Detroit.
The start-and-park dilemma has been debated for some time by everyone including fans, media and NASCAR alike. The issue at hand is the fact a certain amount of small underfunded race teams work to qualify for races but once they’re qualified, when the race starts, they usually bring the cars in so as to avoid the risk of being wrecked.
The teams can’t afford the total cost of racing an actual event and as it is, some don’t really have the personnel to do pit stops. These start-and-park teams make a little bit of profit in order to keep working towards sponsorship so they can move up the pecking order, so to speak. The dollars aren't always the same at each track and with the travel involved, some car owners simply can't race at every event.
"It's a joke."
One of these cars can gross well over a million dollars as a part-time team. It’s argued that this isn't racing at all. Track owners such as Bruton Smith have been complaining for some time about these back-markers saying “It's a joke. It's a joke for the race fans.”
NASCAR wants a full complement of teams for every event and trying to rid the sport of start-and-parks could reduce the size of fields. Small organizations that are now growing like Tommy Baldwin see it differently. Said Baldwin of Smith’s remarks: “He has no idea what he's talking about.” Baldwin went on to state that the new measures are fair saying, “NASCAR is taking the right steps. They did a really good job [with this]. They talked to us about the situation, what their plan was and why they're doing it. At the end of the day, it makes sense what they're doing.”
It could be debated on the side of these small teams that not everyone has a wealthy owner and that this system offers up-and-coming teams an opportunity. Regardless, the arguments will continue as long as the purses are decent, while race teams continue to struggle for marketing funds during these trying times. Again, it should be noted here, that periodically some of these start-and-park teams do race an entire event. For now, the new changes appear to be a happy medium of sorts.