Penske Votes Yes On Latest NASCAR Changes
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – International businessman Roger Penske’s motorsports involvement has covered all major facets of the sport – driver, team and track owner – and he said Wednesday he believed NASCAR was headed in the right direction with its rule changes for 2014.
“Change is an important evolution. There is no question the sport has to change,” Penske, currently the owner of Team Penske, told reporters attending the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We have to attract new people, younger people into the sport. Some of the things we thought were great many years ago today are different.
“We don’t need to watch one car running around qualifying. Let’s have knock-out qualifying. We see it in Formula One. We see it in Indy Car. That will provide some real excitement on Friday or Saturday.”
Penske, who traveled directly from Spain to attend the media tour, said anything that would create more excitement and draw more fans into the sport was important.
“We’ve seen a lot of statistics and when you look at the ratings, I think the ratings were flat to slightly up (last year), which is pretty good in sports today,” Penske noted.
However, it’s the change to NASCAR’s Chase that’s expected to be announced Thursday that drew enthusiasm from Penske. NASCAR is expected to announce an elimination format for the final 10 races with the top four drivers having an equal chance at the championship in the season finale.
“I love the chance to be able to be there, four cars, all on a level playing field as you go into that last race. I think it’s going to be amazing. There will be so much more hype about that,” Penske said.
Penske equated the winner-take-all season finale to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament and, in fact, said he believed NASCAR had taken a page from the stick-and-ball sports. And even though racing is different from those sports, Penske doesn’t believe NASCAR has done anything wrong.
“I think in any business you have to look at what the competition is doing,” Penske explained. “You have to take the best attributes you see in a particular situation and modify those. I think that’s what NASCAR has done. They’re trying to keep this thing tight throughout the season.”
Penske noted if the expected format had been in place in 2013 Joey Logano would have had the opportunity to come back into contention for the title after blowing his Ford’s engine in the Chase opener at Chicago. It also would possibly have given Talladega winner David Ragan an opportunity to compete for the title.
“There’s a lot of emotion that could be around this type of format,” Penske said.
“I didn’t have anything to do with making the decision (about the new format). I’m just one of the ones that has to live with it and, obviously, compete with it and I think it’s going to give us an even better chance (at another championship).”
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