Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Baldwin Rips Smith As NASCAR Cuts Backmarker Purse

Tommy Baldwin speaks out.
Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Chairman Bruton Smith has pulled no punches recently in his criticism of NASCAR’s so-called Start and Park teams; organizations that run only a few laps in a specific race before withdrawing to preserve their equipment and bank some purse money for a full effort down the road.

Yesterday, team owner Tommy Baldwin, Jr., finally fired back.

Baldwin, who was forced to Start And Park frequently in his early days as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner, responded angrily to recent comments by Smith that teams like his have no business in the sport and should be legislated out of the game by NASCAR.
“Obviously, Bruton has got enough money that if he wanted to be part of the solution, he’d help figure out how,” said Baldwin in a Monday teleconference with the sport’s media. “Hendrick, Childress (and) Roush all started very small, just like TBR. If NASCAR didn’t give me the ability to start this process slowly and build, we wouldn’t be in the position where we are today.
“"He's kind of like one of those mad politicians who gets pieces of paper handed to him before he speaks,'' said Baldwin of Smith. "He has no idea what he's talking about. Those are things he probably shouldn’t be worried about.”
He also criticized Smith’s refusal to suggest solutions to the Start And Park phenomenon, saying the track owner insists on pocketing proceeds from track sponsorships, rather than working with teams to help spread the wealth.
“He can do a better job,” said Baldwin. “We’ve tried to get the sponsors at his tracks involved in some package deals, but (the tracks) don’t want anything to do with it. They’re too greedy.”
SMI's Bruton Smith
In apparent response to complaints from Smith and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, NASCAR announced this week that it will “re-allocate” purse and prize money from the final five finishing positions toward the front of the pack this season, dropping the payout for positions 39-43 by approximately $4,000 per position. NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed the move during an Autoweek magazine media panel discussion earlier today, saying, "We moved prize money higher in the purse, so if someone's intent is solely to run a lap or two and park, the revenue stream shrinks.”
Helton called Start And Park "irritating,'' but said he supports new teams’ efforts to succeed in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Spokespersons for the sanctioning body stressed that overall, purses will increase in 2013. Earlier, NASCAR announced plans to trim starting fields in the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 43 cars to 40.
Interestingly, Baldwin had no complaint with NASCAR’s plan to pay less money to backmarkers this season.
"NASCAR is taking the right steps,'' he said. "They did a really good job. They talked to us about the situation, what their plan was and why they're doing it. At the end of the day, it makes sense what they're doing.''
After once fielding a single car in only a limited schedule of events, Baldwin confirmed plans to run two full-time Chevy SS entries this season for drivers Dave Blaney and J.J. Yeley.
“This year is very important for us,” he said. “It’s important that we do well on both the business side and the competition side. We’ll have some strong places and some weak places, but should run consistently in the Top-20 to 25.
“I think we’re ready for the next step,” he promised. “We’re getting everything prepared and going for some new goals with new sponsors.”


  1. NASCAR definitely made the right decision, they could've taken a step toward Socialism, but they didn't. Great job NASCAR. I don't think that it will completely eliminate the problem, but it should help.

    1. No, they made the wrong decision. NASCAR is supposed to provide enough purse money for teams to race. Cutting payouts at the tail end of the field won't solve the "start and park" problem - which is NOT the problem; it is the symptom; the real problem is the preposterous level of spending in the sport, which is why costs are so high. They would not start and park if the purses were better and there were some level of cost/spending controls in the sport.

    2. Anonymous11:53 AM

      Then why did Baldwin say that "Nascar is taking the right steps,"?

  2. Anonymous3:02 PM

    What problem AJ?

    1. The obvious problem of start and parks.

    2. Anonymous3:59 PM

      Obvious problem? If someone doesn't intend to finish the race and doesn't, why is that a 'problem'?

      I really don't care what happens at the tail end of the field, do you?

  3. Anonymous3:44 PM

    OK, so these underfunded teams go out and wreck, or have real problems with their cars, and now they will fold as they don't have the resources of the big teams, and now they won't have the payout either.....screw the little guy again....

  4. I guess I'm blind I don't see the "Obvious" problem.
    I have no idea who start and parked in any race last year because I watch the leaders and my favorite drivers...
    Who cares?!?!?!

  5. "Interestingly, Baldwin had no complaint with NASCAR’s plan to pay less money to backmarkers this season."- Of course not, because he has seemingly moved beyond starting and parking, and gained sponsorship enough to run the races. If this was last year or a couple of years ago, he would be going absolutely bonkers. He is kinda like the guys with seniority working within a union environment. Its not ok and unfair when your the new guy, but when you move up, and it benefits you, it suddenly is alright and you forget about the "new" new guys!

  6. Manitoba_jay4:35 PM

    I don't believe there are 5 teams who planned to run the full race in competitive cars forced to sit at home on sunday because a start and park stole their spot.If 5 s/p beat out 5 other s/p then thats 10 drivers and cars that are on tv and at the track.Once you are away from sight you seem to be forgotten about.If we get rid of s/p and end up with 35ish cars in the field sponsers will think our sport is in trouble and invest elsewhere.As for moving purse money and i could be completely wrong on this but purse money means more to the bottom teams.While the big teams rely probably 80% on sponser money s/p teams rely probably 80% on purse money to make it to the next race

    Great Blog as always

  7. Hey fellas, I don't watch the back of the field like a hawk either. I'm apparently in the minority here, but since when has it been acceptable to get paid for not finishing the job? What if a guy shows up to mow your lawn, mows one row, then asks for his paycheck? That would make you furious, wouldn't it? How about a mechanic, that only inspects the rear of your car? He's stealing money right from your pocket. Now put yourself in Smith's shoes.

    America was built by people who did more than what they were capable of; People who did more than what was asked of them; Men and Women who went above and beyond the call of duty. You shouldn't get a paycheck for just showing up.

    1. AJ, you keep missing the point - they're not just showing up, they're trying to race. The start and parks are not stealing anything; the problem is the purses (Bruton Smith's tracks are among the worst there) and the lack of cost/spending controls in the sport. Pay better purses and put in restrictions on spending for the teams. When it becomes more affordable to race hard, they race hard.

      Your lawnmowing analogy is utterly foolish.

      You've forgotten that Richard Childress was a "start and park" team way back when; you forget that Alan Kulwicki's team was a start and park in 1986 - it had to be, the money to race harder simply wasn't there at that point. BTW, reading some of the postrace, it seems the Shootout drivers were only going at 80% because of parts/car shortages. Should they thus be smeared as start and parks?

    2. They didn't park, they raced with what they had. Honestly, did it look like Harvick and Stewart were going at 80%?

      You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, as am I. BTW, I wasn't even alive yet in 1986. #whatyoudontknowcanthurtyou

  8. Anonymous7:12 PM

    So if you legislate them out, then there won't be a full field...at least for the start or for the first few laps. Then people will complain about that. NASCAR fans are some of the most unhappy people. What is the big deal...you are not sitting there watching the back of the pack during the race, unless your driver had to move to the back of the pack. Which is where they will be be regardless if the start and parks are there or not. As David said...Who cares? Let the not so funded teams run so they can develop their teams to run in the future....gotta start somewhere!!