I was pretty excited to hear the December 1 announcement that Monster Energy was the new sponsor for the NASCAR Cup, I mean "Premier Series". I hope it is a good fit for both and results in more interest in the sport at the track and on the tube as well as better racing on the track.
We can sure use it.
Another reason I'm excited about this new partnership is Monster Energy is one series sponsor I can see who is bold enough to implement a series changing concept, like the "20-20" to bring more fun and excitement and better racing to each race weekend.
If you are new to the site and are not familiar with "20-20" it is a new way to set each weekly race's starting lineup. "20-20" replaces qualifying against the clock and instead sets the lineup with the top 20 finishers from last week's race advancing to Sunday's race, while the remaining 20 (or more) run a qualifying race to set the remaining starting positions using last week's finishing order to set the starting lineup of the qualifier.
If you want to know more check out the earlier article "Take a Chance, Mr. France"
Even though I believe this
new race weekend procedure would greatly improve racing and Monster Energy is
bold enough to make their mark on automobile racing by bringing it to NASCAR, I
also believe "20-20" needs an additional twist to bring the energy
and excitement level up to that of the new series sponsor.
The new twist would be that instead of "20-20" an additional qualifying race would be added making the new format "8-16-16". This would mean the first 8 from last week's race would be rewarded for their good finish and pass directly to Sunday's race, occupying positions 1-8. That would be the 8 in the new "8-16-16" format.
The first 16 would be last week's finishers 9-24 who would run in the first heat race. Their finishing order would set starting positions 9-24 in Sunday's race.
The final 16 would be last week's finishers 25-40, along with any cars that failed to qualify last week or new entries would run in the second heat race. This would be a "Last Chance" race with the first 16 across the line in that race rolling off 25-40 in Sunday's race.
The new "8-16-16" format has all the benefits of "20-20" (which I won't recount here as they are listed in previous articles), with several important additional ones.
First, reducing the number of cars who get a free pass into Sunday's race from 20 to 8 is a major improvement. This "raising of the bar" to get a free pass into Sunday's race puts a premium on racing each and every week and that's what this is all about.
Second, because there are more than 8 quality teams out there the "raised bar" means that some really good teams are going to have to race in the qualifiers. That means more racing and more competition throughout.
Third, adding another qualifying race is a definite bonus. Instead of seeing cars run against the clock now they are going to see racing… nothing but racing. Under "20-20" there would be only one qualifier, but under this new format, we'll now get two. On just about any race day, two races are better than one.
Fifth, the size of the field for the qualifiers 16-16+ are the perfect size for good racing.
Sixth, this format is a throwback to local short track racing and closely resembles Monster Energy's Supercross race format with heats and mains. The qualifiers are the heats, Sunday's race is the Main. This adds appeal to long-time fans as well as new ones.
Seventh, it preserves the "20-20" concept of this week's race depends on last week's finish, which immediately increases the importance of each race while tying the entire season together into essentially one big season-long race, which is absent under the current system.
Lastly, it maintains the primary benefit of "20-20" which is to make everything, everything about racing.
The "8-16-16" format with the "raised bar", a qualifier and a "Last Chance" race each and every weekend would be more fun and more exciting than the present knockout qualifying method. It is so unique, so different it is the perfect way for Monster Energy to make their mark on NASCAR.
"20-20" had a nice ring to it but "8-16-16" is a mouthful. So it needs a new name ... the "Race for the Green" (RFG).
The "Race for the Green" describes the concept perfectly as everything now is decided by racing, all focus is on racing.
Racing determines which 8 advances directly to the Main. Racing determines the starting position for the Qualifier and Last Chance race. Racing in those races determines the remaining starting lineup for Sunday's race.
Do you see a theme here? Everything... everything is about racing and how exciting is that?
That theme is reflected in the new name for this concept-"Race for the Green." And using something other than Chase automatically separates it from what has been before, lets everyone who hears it know that this is new, this is different from anything that was done in the previous chapter of NASCAR's history.
Monster Energy has taken a bold step by partnering with NASCAR as its premier series sponsor and hopefully will bring many innovations, renewed interest and growth to the sport during their tenure.
The Monster Energy "Race for the Green" would be a very positive next step to move them down that path.
Take it, Monster Energy. Take it!