While some are surprised by the changes that NASCAR has announced recently, Kurt Busch is not as he feels that NASCAR has been more aggressive with changes over the years, starting with the implication of the Chase.
“NASCAR has to evolve with how people are evolving and how they get their information and how they get involved into this sport may not be as much detail now,” he said. “A quick analogy is our sport used to work on a three year timeline; now it works on a three month timeline on how quick you have to adapt.”
Busch added that he feels the changes are needed to help keep NASCAR mainstream. but they need to keep the integrity that NASCAR is known for.
Busch feels confident in the qualifying changes and possible Chase changes, but also says no matter what, the cream will rise to the top.
“Eventually, the top teams will rise back to the top, but it’s going to create a lot of question and intrigue and a lot of excitement at the beginning part of the year,” he said. “Then we’ll see how the chase unfolds and where it goes like that. But to me, it’s about comparing to other sports and finding a points system that’s easy to understand for everyone.”
Busch added that the good teams are going to figure out the best way to outsmart the system, no matter what it is, and he feels that Stewart-Haas Racing will be able to do that with their driver stable.
When it comes to the new knock-out qualifying format, Busch says it should be interesting when teams get to the intermediate tracks and how they balance their amount of runs due to how much the tires falls off.
“It’ll be interesting on how some tracks the Goodyear tire will duplicate the time you run on stickers and scuffs,” he commented. “Then there’s tracks like California Speedway where you have a sticker run and then you go right back out on scuffed tires and you’ll be six tenths later so it’ll be interesting how it plays out. I think you’ll see large differences at the big tracks and then you’ll see smaller intervals of time difference at the short tracks.”
Busch asked NASCAR whether they could get a fresh set of stickers for the final 12, but NASCAR did not allow it due to wanting to keep the costs down. Busch says using the older tires for the second session, it’ll put them more on edge and in a riskier situation.
“Are we at risk? No, I didn’t say that,” he said. “We have safer cars and safer situations, but you’re at risk for spinning out and for something to go wrong. That’s what keeps it fun and exciting.”
Busch says his strategy going into it will be to keep “clear and crisp and you’re not out there to play monkey business with the other cars”.
NASCAR is also thinking of changing the Chase format and Busch says he would be happy to see it expanded to 16 cars.
“That gives a group of sponsors more of a chance to find success in this sport and not be cup off so abruptly when you don’t make the Chase because a successful season, whether you win races or you don’t, is defined whether you make the chase,” he said. “Now that’s changing on you need to win to make the Chase and you have a past champion like Brad Keselowski in 2012 not make the Chase in 2013. Is that good or bad for the sport? It shows the competiton side, but it also is disappointing to see a group like Miller Lite not in the Chase. So we’re going to see more guys, I hope, in the Chase, but then you still need to perform to be eligible for the championship.”
Busch says the elimination format wouldn’t be bad, either, since you already see that unofficially with the points.
The changes started last year with the brand new Generation 6 car and it did well, but it needs to even better.
“I think it needs to do a better job at those close finishes, those tight white knuckle action towards the end of the races,” he commented. “That’s what we need to get out of these cars.”