NASCAR is in need of some fresh ideas, and one person is up to the task.
Heading into Sunday’s race at Watkins Glenn International, 11 different drivers and nine different teams have entered victory lane this season. But this surely won’t last, and NASCAR must to something to level the playing field.
The answer, according to one owner, could be a spending cap.
“Every single league has a cap now these days, it creates a level playing field,” Richard Petty Motorsports co-owner Andrew Murstein recently told NBC Sports. “It’s salaries … it’s wind-tunnel time, its the whole kit and caboodle. It’s better for the fans, I think, if there is a level playing field.
“No one can outspend the other guy. It’s better for the owners. It creates more competition, more excitement.”
Now, Murstein isn’t the only owner who’s thought of this. Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush has long been a proponent of a spending cap, but the 75-year-old NASCAR legend might not have the energy necessary to fight tooth-and-nail on the concept. Which is where Murstein comes in.
The 53-year-old reportedly shared his ideas with NASCAR chairman Brian France last month, in a meeting that included New York Giants owner John Tisch. Provided they can come up with the necessary details, France seemed open to the idea of a cap, according to Murstein, via NBC Sports.
But there’s another, perhaps equally radical aspect of his plan: a luxury tax.
“Kind of punish the ones that don’t care about spending and that extra money goes into a pool that would help the other owners,” Murstein said. “And hopefully they would use their money to make their cars more competitive, too.”
NASCAR for years has been dominated, both competitively and financially, by four major teams: Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. But drivers such as Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson and Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., just to name a couple, are proving that lesser-funded teams are just as capable of fielding championship-level programs.
It could be a while before NASCAR gets another Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Bill Elliott — big-team, big-name drivers capable of putting the sport on their backs. The most logical rout, then, should be to embrace all the young and energetic personalities in the sport, regardless of which team they drive for.
But at the end of the day, fans won’t latch on to drivers that can’t compete. And competing is awfully difficult without the proper amount of dough.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports