Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Race Team Alliance: The Beginning of The End, or the End of the Beginning?

Reverse Reality Paint-Scheme
A few days ago, Nascar's nine "mega-teams" announced the formation of the Race Team Alliance, aka The RTA.  This group, led by Rob Kauffman of Michael Waltrip Racing, claims to have been founded to control costs, improve competition, and form a single voice for the sport's teams.
But is it good for Nascar?
After all, it could be the force that helps to bring Nascar back to the heights it reached in the early 00's.  Or, it could be the force that turns it into a pale imitation of itself in a few short years.  Here's a look at what COULD happen down the road…

February 2015: After months of posturing, the RTA issues its list of demands to Nascar in a document labelled the "Gurney White Paper", since it put Brian France in a Gurney and turned his face pale white.  The RTA threatens to pursue legal action to meet their demands of lower costs, better purses, and more control.

April 2015: Upon completing his recovery, Brian France makes plans to meet with RTA representatives, but cancels when Michael Waltrip is heard saying, "Well, that's not the first time Brian's left rehab!"  Talks degenerate into a war of words with France frequently issuing press releases stating, "Your mom".
"More logos!  More power!  But
mostly more logos!"

August 2015: Amid a season of controversy, things reach a head when Kyle Busch wins his fifth straight Xfinity Series (formerly Nationwide Series) race, after which he is pelted by fans.  No, literally--fans throw other fans over the catch-fence at Kyle's car during a burnout.  Mike Helton's attempts to prevent Cup drivers from earning purse money in lower-level series is thwarted by the RTA, who consolidate power behind Joe Gibbs.

January 2016: In what is labelled as a "power-grab", Brian France announces that for the upcoming season, 25 spots will be reserved in each field for non-RTA teams and drivers.  The RTA teams will be forced to compete for the remaining spots in what becomes known as the "25/18 Rule".  The RTA leadership is furious, noting that France timed his announcement to coincide with Joe Gibbs' appearance in Landover, Maryland for the renaming of the Washington Warlocks.

February 2016: "The Split".  The RTA, with most of the top drivers and all of the top-teams, forms its own racing series, Championship Racing Automotive Productions, or CRAP.  Agreements are made between CRAP and Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s CEO, Marcus Smith, to host a majority of the new series's races.  Bruton Smith, meanwhile, is interviewed by ESPN about where he thinks LeBron James is going.

March 2016: Hindered by The Split, Nascar holds its season-opening Daytona 500 later than ever, a race dominated by Tommy Baldwin Racing's duo of Landon Cassill and Danny O'Quinn.  Meanwhile, CRAP announces plans to start its season on Memorial Day weekend.  The race, sponsored now by USBank, is named the US 600.
Pre-race festivities at the US 600

May 2016: In the first-ever head-to-head battle of the two sanctioning bodies, Nascar scores a decisive win, with Angela Cope scoring a photo-finish win over Travis Kvapil in the Buy ISC Stock 400.  Meanwhile, a stunning 30-car crash happens during the parade lap of the US 600, made even more-stunning when CRAP allows the affected cars to pull out backups for the second attempted start.  Series spokesman Jeff Burton is electrocuted when he attempts to explain that "Well, Nascar did it once."

November 2016: The first season since The Split ends with heavy losses for both sides--lower TV ratings, lack of public interest, and a Sprint Cup championship for Stephen Leicht.  Joe Gibbs leaves CRAP to become the new General Manager of the renamed Washington Warriors.  Roger Penske leaves as well, saying, "I warned ya!  Didn't I warn ya!"

February 2017: In an attempt to reignite interest in the sport, restrictor plates are eliminated in the Daytona 500 presented by Jerry's Bail Bonds.  After a dangerous crash puts leader Norm Benning's car in the stands, remaining fans of the sport are both relieved and embarrassed that nobody died because nobody was in the stands.
"And a reminder that Brooke
Gordon-Townley is still at large"

June 2017: Amid heavy losses and an expiring TV deal with CNNBCBS, CRAP enters peace talks with a noticeably disheveled Brian France.  Having suffered major financial losses as well, France later explains that he has been forced to subside on a diet of Slim Jims and pudding.

September 2017: Upon winning the Sprint Cup Championship, Morgan Shepherd retires.

February 2018: After months of negotiations, CRAP and Nascar come to a merger agreement, with the France family regaining control over the sport.  CRAP spokesman J.D. Gibbs (son of Joe Gibbs, current executive with the renamed Washington Bullets) admits that there were heavy losses on both sides, but that with a little luck--and a lot of hard work--one day the sport of stock car racing might reach the level of IndyCar.

April 2018: Due to a scheduling error, the final CRAP race is held mere hours after a Nascar event, resulting in Danica Patrick-Stewart earning her first stock car win.