Race Weekend Central

Five Points to Ponder: Would a Salary Cap Work in NASCAR?

ONE: Give Him a Second

Kevin Harvick is becoming one of the greatest bridesmaids of all time. With his runner up finish in the Pocono 400 on Sunday, he passed Lee Petty for 10th in all-time second place finishes. Harvick has finished second 49 times in his career. The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is a 35-time winner. If he could have translated all of those second place finishes into wins as well, then he would have 84 career wins. That would tie Harvick with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth on the all-time wins list and place him a win ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Cale Yarborough. Harvick is likely a future Hall of Famer, but if “The Closer” had closed out more of those races where he just missed out on winning, then he could have been regarded as one of the best to ever drive.

TWO: Ryan Blaney Could Make History for Wood Brothers Racing

For a team that has been around since the early days of the sport, Wood Brothers Racing could reach new heights in 2017. Ryan Blaney‘s win at Pocono Raceway was the 99th win in team history. It is not hard to imagine that Blaney will win again this season and notch the triple digit win for the boys from Stuart, Va. If Blaney does win again then it would mark the first time the team scored multiple victories in a season.since Neil Bonnett won three times in 1981. Blaney’s win also essentially locked the Wood Brothers into the playoffs for the first time in team history. One thing missing from the Wood Brothers’ museum is a Cup championship trophy. If Blaney could win the title or finish runner up then it would be the highest the No. 21 has finished in points in the team’s history. David Pearson’s best result was a third place in points in 1974 despite only driving 19 of the 30 races. Imagine the titles that could have been won had the Pearson/Woods combination driven full time during the 1970s.

The best bridesmaid of his generation? Kevin Harvick ranks 10th all-time in runner-up finishes. (Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)

THREE: Would a Salary Cap Work in NASCAR?

One of the things that really evened up the playing field in the National Football League was the introduction of the salary cap. As a result, the big marker teams cannot go out and buy all of the best players and dominate the league. In NASCAR, there are a couple of teams that have bigger budgets than all the rest of them. Those teams win most of the races and there is hardly ever a changing of the guard because they can afford to spend extra in research and development, engineering and salaries without bankrupting themselves. Meanwhile, the smaller teams are forced to exhaust every dime in an effort to keep up. In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the ultra-competitive Red Horse Racing and Roush Fenway Racing’s XFINITY Series No. 6 team close their doors because the amount they were spending to be competitive outweighed the income they were bringing in from sponsors and race winnings. If NASCAR could set a cap limit on each entry of the field to limit how much they are spending on R&D, engineering and salaries, then I believe that the smaller teams would have an easier time keeping up and more middle-of-the-road teams would become race winners. The cap would have to be slightly above what the average spending is per car so that the top teams will not be allowed to throw around so much money. The result would be a more competitive NASCAR where teams would be forced to be creative in making their cars faster rather than throwing money around. At the very least, NASCAR could set a spending cap on the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series so that the Cup teams will not be so dominant when they invade.

FOUR: The Overtime Rules Still Suck

After the Dover MENCS race, all of the Overtime Line apologists claimed that people that hated the Overtime rules really just did not like seeing Jimmie Johnson win the race. Well this time the controversial overtime rules cost Chase Briscoe a shot at winning the CWTS race at Texas Motor Speedway. I saw many posts on Twitter (including from Briscoe’s owner Brad Keselowski) and I talked to several people that feel like Briscoe was robbed. Johnson was not in the Truck race. Do the people that disliked the finish to that race hate him as well? No, it means that this Overtime system has to go. Fans want to see a race finish under the green flag because that is the most concrete manner to decide a winner––there is no gray area that way. When a race winner is determined by flimsy rules, fans do not trust NASCAR to make the right call. The governing body lost this trust in 2013 when it decided to add a 13th playoff spot for Jeff Gordon just because he complained. Give the fans a green flag finish and they will trust that the race winner truly earned the win.

FIVE: Michigan

The MENCS tours come to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. Michigan is one of the older tracks on the tour, having hosted two NASCAR weekends a year since 1969. The greatest obstacle of this weekend’s race will be the season-long plague of clean air. In the perfect Aero package, Michigan provides quality racing, but this year’s failed package could result in a 200+ miles per hour single-file parade. Kyle Larson is certainly the driver to watch heading into the race. Larson has won the last two races held at two-mile tracks, winning at Michigan last August and at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season. Joey Logano could be a threat to win this Sunday, as he was the June Michigan winner last season and is a two-time winner at the track. Logano is running out of chances to pick up an unencumbered win in the regular season, so his aggression should be climbing. Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch have the most wins at MIS of active drivers, with three each. One storyline that has been developing for the past few seasons is Brad Keselowski’s desire to win at his home track. The Rochester Hills, Mi. native has 15 starts and five top-fives at the track, but has never made the trip to Victory Lane in the Cup Series. Erik Jones, who is from Byron, Mi., will be making his first start at his home track. Following a career best third-place finish at Pocono, it would not be a stretch to predict that he could become the fourth first-time winner of 2017 in this weekend’s race.

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bill B

A salary cap in NASCAR would be hard to enforce. In football the cap applies to the players on your roster which is easily monitored. It does not apply to the money you spend on your facilities or personnel to support the effort which would be very hard to monitor. In NASCAR most of the spending is behind the scene on facilities and personnel. How do you police that? You would need an accountant inside each team with full access to any and all data and even then it would be easy to hide things from them with “creative accounting”. It just doesn’t seem feasible.


“Give the fans a green flag finish and they will trust that the race winner truly earned the win.”

Really?????? Where have you been since Brian started the late race cautions for a GWC? Are you saying that every driver who won a GWC finish “earned” the win? You must be a fan of Jimmie Johnson.

And Bobby Allison has 85 wins! Haven’t you read other columnists recently? DW never accepts that Bobby has 85.



Eric L

You mentioned the “failed” aero package in your last bullet point. While I would agree that it is not perfect, and clean air still dominates, I think it has been shown that the leader does not have as large of an advantage this year than in previous seasons. Johnson caught Logano at Texas, Truex ran down Blaney at Kansas several times during the last stage, and there are others that I will not list for the sake of space of late race passes or battles for the win.

I do hope that NASCAR continues down the road of less aero dependency (get rid of sideskirts please!) But I do think it is a tad harsh to call this year’s package a failure.

That being said, we all have the right to our own opinions on this! I’d love to hear your reasoning!


F1 has been trying to come up with a way to cap team spending for years without success. Part of the reason is that given multinational companies and all that is involved spending can be hidden quite easily. But the real reason is the same as I expect it is in Nascar. The larger more profitable teams have no incentive to do it. Rather just the opposite. Higher costs limit the number of real competitors. So why do it?


I like a cap in theory, but that would really expand the boundaries of NASCAR control over the teams. Their control really stops for the most part at the gates of the racetrack. The teams have always been viewed as “Independent Contractors”. The only thing they do close to that now is the testing ban. However, something has to be done to drive down costs. It’s not NASCAR forcing teams to hire small armies of engineers, its the teams wanting to win.


Has anyone cared to state the obvious missed point here…… NASCAR team economic model is not equal to the NFL. You cannot compare the two. UNLESS NASCAR teams are reformed into a franchise/league NFL style model, and complete revenue sharing is implicated, it is nearly impossible to approach such a subject.

The natural effects of supply and demand will alter NASCAR. The teams grew fat and happy over the past 17 years, due to the TV money. If the TV money were to go away, the teams only have one choice…find new revenue, or contract.

Biff Baynehouse

Cap – hilarious on it’s face, but after a moments thought, why not? Cap the big 3 & 4 Cup car conglomerates & the way they bleed out the NXS & CWT. If not overall, just on driver salaries. I love it, & I’d buy that for a dollar!


Imagine if Bobby and DW win totals were reversed. What if DW won a race and didn’t get credit for it? It MIGHT be mentioned every now and then during his shilling in the booth. He MIGHT even talk to Brian about it.

Al Torney

Banjo said it “speed costs money, how fast do you want to go”. And Felix replied “if that’s the case my car should be going one thousand miles an hour”.

NASCAR has been attempting to make under funded teams competitive since the beginning. In fact damn near every racing entity in the country has been trying to do the same for years. It just doesn’t work anywhere. And never has. And having big bucks doesn’t always guarantee success. I use Dale Jr., Kasey and Danica as examples. And this year you can look at Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas. One of the big problems is that there isn’t enough talent to go round. I’m talking Crew chiefs, mechanics and other support team members. Hasn’t anyone noticed that talking money in NASCAR is taboo. Does the media really know how much anyone makes in this sport? How much it costs to be a primary, or secondary, sponsor? No it’s all speculation. Hell they don’t even tell you what a winner receives anymore. I sincerely doubt the team owners are going to open their books to anyone. In addition the other sports that have salary caps have huge loop holes that get used quite frequently.

As far as G-W-C goes I have absolutely no problem with a race ending under caution. Been attending races since 1952. Never cared. I’m sick of seeing drivers who dominate a race and lose at the end because of some times questionable cautions. And look at the carnage G-W-C has caused over the years. Now there’s a real cost saver.

The piece on Harvick’s second place finishes was worthless. Just think how many wins Petty and Pearson would have if they had won just the races that they finished one -two to just each other. If memory holds I think they finished 1-2 123 times. Pearson winning 62 and Petty winning 61. My be wrong but I am close.

Share via