Backseat Drivers Fan Council

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Did NASCAR overstep the line with Chad Knaus? Are manufacturers important anymore?

Did NASCAR overstep the line with Chad Knaus? Are manufacturers important anymore?

by Dustin Long

The Backseats Drivers Fan Council is back! While NASCAR and tracks have their own fan councils, most people don’t see the results of what fans are asked. That’s why I started a fan council last year where anyone could answer questions about the sport and see the results, along with comments fellow council members made.

Was NASCAR’s punishment of Chad Knaus fair? Do car brands matter anymore to NASCAR fans? Will rising gas prices force some fans to attend fewer NASCAR races? Those were among the topics members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debated in this week’s survey.

There’s much to discuss, which Fan Council members did, so, let’s get to what was said:

NASCAR’S PENALTIES TO CHAD KNAUS
NASCAR announced that it would suspend crew chief Chad Knaus six races, fine him $100,000 and dock Jimmie Johnson 25 driver points, among other penalties after issues were found with Johnson’s car at Daytona in the first day at the track. Fan Council members were asked what they thought of the penalties, which Hendrick Motorsports is appealing.

44.4 percent said the penalty was appropriate
41.4 percent said the penalty was too harsh
14.2 percent said the penalty was not severe enough

What Fan Council members said:

• It's about time that they start looking at the body of work and not individual events for the 48 bunch. Has a year gone by in recent history when they weren't caught trying something? They were warned not to mess with the body and they have repeatedly. Time to drop the hammer and let the chips fall where they may.

• NASCAR officials seemed to talk a lot in the off-season about being more transparent and consistent with the fans, but I don't think this decision is very transparent. I believe that this punishment is about more than just C-posts. It's no big secret that NASCAR has been unhappy with how far Knaus has pushed the limits of the rules, so it appears to me that they are trying to 'put him back in place' with the suspension and fine, rather than just respond to the C-post issue.

• Innovation has always been part of racing, why kill it altogether. Not a 48 fan, but come on NASCAR, give the teams a break.

• I feel like there is either more to this story we don't know or this is too harsh.

• I think NASCAR is way out of line on this one. I figure what makes a good crew chief is a natural talent for figuring things out. Their goal isn't to cheat, but to figure out how to go faster. NASCAR believes its job is to rein them in, but I believe it's wrong for NASCAR to penalize them for being innovative. Tell them no, we don't like that, go change it, but a suspension and penalty like this is just way over the top.

• Chad is a repeat offender. He didn't learn from his previous penalties so it is only right that NASCAR make these penalties more severe. Bottom line is that Chad Knaus was cheating and he got caught and he was punished appropriately.

• Should 100% be overturned on appeal.

• It's impossible for fans to know the true violation without some kind of evidentiary support. Until NASCAR does a 5-minute video presentation on why it was illegal or not, fans will never completely understand what was wrong and how bad it was or wasn't. Have to trust the sanctioning body on this one.

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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council gives its opinion on NASCAR's penalty and manufacturer importance.</p>


IMPORTANCE OF CAR MANUFACTURERS TO FANS
In light of the recent announcement of Penske Racing moving from Dodge to Ford after this season, Fan Council members were asked how important is it that their favorite driver races a particular car brand. 

38.3 percent said the car brand was not important
22.9 percent said the car brand was moderately important
20.8 percent said the car brand was slightly important
18.1 percent said the car brand was very important

What Fan Council members said:

• I don't pick my drivers based on car brand. I select drivers based on talent, contributions to the sport, and society, as well as their personality.

• Something in my brain makes me feel like it SHOULD matter, but in the end I don't think it does. I like my drivers because of their personalities and the way they perform on the track - if it takes a different manufacturer to help them achieve better results, then I think I'm OK with that! 

• The cars don't look like anything that resembles a stock car, for a number of reasons. Therefore, there's hardly a reason for brand loyalty. Our favorite driver is Junior, and we could care less that he's driving a Chevy, even though our favorite vehicles are Fords.

• Historically, I have been a Chevy fan. I previously only cheered on drivers who were racing Chevys. I guess with the COT and the lack of "REAL" brand identity, I've soften a bunch. However, my favorite driver does drive a Chevy.

• As long as my driver doesn't switch to a Toyota, I'm fine...not saying I would pick a new driver at that point but I sure wouldn't be happy! This used to be referred to as "The Great American Sport" and it pains me to see that one manufacturer has changed all that!

• If the King can successfully shift to Ford, anyone should be able to drive the make that offers them the best opportunity for success

• Always been a Ford fan, but had to swallow hard and root when Mark Martin moved to Chevy and now Toyota.

• While I make it a point only to purchase vehicles made by NASCAR manufacturers, it actually isn't that important to me if my favorite is behind the wheel of a Chevy or a Toyota - as long as he's winning!


FAVORITE MANUFACTURER
Fan Council members were asked what was their favorite car manufacturer competing in NASCAR and why.

58.1 percent listed Chevrolet as their favorite
22.0 percent listed Ford as their favorite
14.1 percent listed Toyota as their favorite
5.8 percent listed Dodge as their favorite

What Fan Council members said:

• My pops may not have had a whole lot of hard and fast rules when I was a kid, but I remember this one distinctly. "Don't ever drive up here in a FORD." We were Earnhardt fans, Chevy people through and through. I would even go so far to say that I honestly don't care who wins as long as they are driving a Chevy. To this day I tow my Chevy race car to Midwest dirt tracks with a Chevy Silverado.

• Don't have one. Personally, I don't have ties to any manufacturer and will not pledge blind allegiance to one. The American manufacturers were once the leaders in their industry. But they grew complacent and failed to listen to the consumers and continued to produce inferior products while selling better products overseas.

• For NASCAR it would be Chevrolet due to the deep history in the sport. For my personal use, it's Toyota due to dependability and value.

• I believe in the Toyota product and have owned several. Love Toyota being in NASCAR shaking up the good ole boys. And for me, my driver favorites are based upon the car they drive. Smoke in a Toyota, Go Smoke! Smoke in a Chevy, good for him. (Martin) Truex Jr. in a Chevy, good for him. Guess what? I now pull for Truex Jr.! I pull for all the big boys in a Toyota except for Kyle Busch. I am loyal to Brand.

• Ford, because they haven't taken a dime of your money that you haven't freely and willingly given them as a customer. Ford has supported the Wood Brothers since the late 50's, and I own a Ford.

• Was born and raised to like Chevy and hate Ford and Dodge.

• I drive a Ford. I like Jack Roush.

• Both my husband and I pull for Chevy drivers...plan on our next car being a Chevy mainly to reward their hard work to get the company back on track.


RISING GAS PRICES EQUALS SLIDING ATTENDANCE?
With gas prices rising (and topping $4 a gallon in some parts of the country), Fan Council members were asked if the cost of gas would impact their decision to attend a NASCAR race this year.

57.5 percent rising gas prices would not impact their travel plans
17.8 percent said they won’t be attending a NASCAR race, partly due to rising gas prices
16.8 percent said they are changing their plans to attend a NASCAR race closer to home
7.9 percent said gas prices won’t impact their plans unless it tops $4 a gallon nationally

What Fan Council members said:

• I won't attend Dover or Bristol as I'd planned to do.

• I go to both Talladega races each year, and that will not change. I haven't planned to go to any other tracks this year, but if gas was to go down it would help my decision a little bit.

• We're only a 7-hour drive from Kansas Speedway. My car does pretty good on fuel. I don't think it will affect me. We can only afford one race anyway. We'll just have to cut back on something else.

• Always make room in the budget for a race!

• I usually go to Martinsville and Pocono at least once a year. Both of those tracks are 4 hours from my home. This year my husband (a new fan finally) and I are attending the Richmond race in April. Richmond is about 1.5 hours from home.

• I have given up on going to TMS this year, but will go to Chicago since it is closer.

• It does make me re-consider plans, yet I am still attending Daytona, Martinsville, Rockingham, Richmond, and Dover this year. I am lucky that there are so many races I can go to and come back in the same day from my home in SE Virginia. If these high prices are sustained or get even higher it will certainly impact my future travel plans.

• I live in Seattle...I considered driving to Phoenix for the race. At 2800 miles I'm looking at $400.00 worth of gas alone to make that trip, so I watched from the sofa. I'm still considering Sonoma...a more reasonable 1600-mile roundtrip.

• We've already renewed our race tickets and camping spots for 2012 for the 5 races we plan on attending. We have a diesel motor home and fuel prices are important but this is what we do for vacation and budget accordingly. We take advantage of the easy pay plans and have them paid for before we attend them. It's great that the tracks offer these wonderful ways to make attending the races more affordable.

• Please. I'll drop my lattes before I'll cut back on my NASCAR races.

• My husband and I plan on going to Talladega in May. The only thing that could stop us are the gas prices. If they do go over $4 a gallon, we probably won't be able to make it.

• I’ll walk to Bristol if I have too.


RATING SUNDAY’S CUP RACE FROM PHOENIX

53.1 percent called it Good
33.1 percent called it Fair
11.7 percent called it Great
2.1 percent called it Poor

What Fan Council members said: 

• Fair number of leader changes, good mix of drivers and manufacturers up front and not too many cautions. Just how I like it!

• It wasn't the most exciting race, but it never is at Phoenix.

• The racing was most exciting in the few laps after restarts. Things tended to get a bit strung out during the longer green flag runs, but the race race still held my attention pretty well. I also liked watching the drivers negotiate the dogleg on the backstretch - I think PIR did a good job re-configuring the track last year.

• Length was OK, not too long. Racing action was real good. I prefer tracks this size and smaller, or road courses.

• I was there in person, turn 1 Allison Grandstands, the race was absolutely fantastic. Saw the whole race ... no commercial interruption, and the great play-by-play work by MRN made it 100% enjoyable.

• Great. Fuel strategy and good side-by-side racing through the field. Some parts of the race were single file but you will have that at non-restrictor plate tracks. There's nothing we can do about it. It cannot be 3 or 4 wide every lap. People who understand racing will know this.

• I think I OD'd on Daytona because I just wasn't ready for another race. It was okay, but it didn't hold my attention very well. 

• Fuel mileage races are not too exciting. I would prefer to see drivers race for the win. They call this sport racing not strategy.

Fans can join the Backseat Drivers Fan Council by sending Dustin an email at [email protected]

Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
 

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