Smith explains process behind creating NASCAR's new formats
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The question on everyone's mind after NASCAR announced monumental changes to its race formats and championship system in 2017 was how exactly did it all come together?
Marcus Smith, President of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., the group that owns several speedways on the NASCAR circuit, including Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, was one of many prominent NASCAR industry figures involved in meetings that began in Las Vegas prior to Champions Week and the Cup Series awards banquet. He was also on the panel that introduced the new format beginning at Daytona in February.
On Monday's episode of Fast Talk with Brett McMillan and Wendy Venturini, Smith explained how the discussions began and the collaboration between NASCAR and its stakeholders.
"When I walked into this meeting, I see it's a big room. There were drivers, team owners, network executives, NASCAR people, and other track promoters," Smith said. "That's not normal in the world of NASCAR to get all of the stakeholders in the same room. It may seem pretty simple, but it doesn't happen very often."
The group discussed several issues that were brought to their attention by competitors, team officials, and most importantly, race fans. Among them: concerns that drivers are just logging laps through the middle portions of races.
"It wasn't one single thing," Smith explained. "One thing that was on social media stories over the last couple of days was the idea that drivers don't race hard for the whole race. That's something a lot of drivers really object to."
With the new race format breaking every race in NASCAR's top three series being broken into three segments that award championship driver points and playoff points for performance, Smith thinks the fans will see the best racing they've seen in quite some time.
"Everybody that was involved in this discussion is a huge race fan," he said. "We may work in the sport, but we love the sport. For race fans, I think this is really exciting time."