Friday, April 01, 2011

Martinsville Change A Good Deal For Fans

There’s a minor debate swirling at Martinsville Speedway today, surrounding a schedule change that moves Sprint Cup qualifying from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning for the first time in history.

A handful of drivers and media members are criticising that change today, complaining that Sprint Cup Series teams will be at the speedway tomorrow to turn a grand total of two qualifying laps; a situation they see as a waste of time.

They are -– of course -- entitled to their opinion. But in their unfailing unhappiness, that small group of Martinsville complainers ignores the reality of who pays the bills in this sport. NASCAR does not run for the benefit of the racers. It doesn’t run for the media. It runs for the fans; a group without whom the sport would very quickly cease to exist.

In conjunction with NASCAR, track president Clay Campbell and his Martinsville Speedway staff have implemented a change that will result in a tremendous Saturday value for race fans. By rolling back Cup qualifying to Saturday, fans will now be able to enjoy Truck Series qualifying, Cup Series qualifying and the Camping World Truck Series race; all in one day, for the price of a single ticket. That’s a good thing, whether or not it inconveniences a few folks on the working side of the fence.

The media is here today en mass, despite the fact that there’s nothing but practice on the schedule. Attendance is not mandatory, so I can only assume they are here by choice.

As far as the drivers and crews are concerned, practice is as much a part of their race weekend as qualifying or the race itself. It’s their job to practice their race cars, whether those practice laps take place on Friday or Saturday.

I understand how tempting it is to seek out the negative in every change. And yes, maybe this new schedule is a tad inconvenient for some. But for the people who matter: the people who buy the tickets, it’s a good deal.

There’s an old adage that says, “The customer is always right.” Perhaps there should be another, saying, “If it’s good for the customer, it’s always right.”

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