Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Sports

July 11, 2014

Alliance could bring NASCAR changes

Whether they like it or not, NASCAR officials could be looking at changes in how television and sponsor money is divided with competitors and efforts to reduce costs of the sport.

Last weekend the nine biggest teams in the Sprint Cup series announced the formation of the Race Team Alliance. The nine teams currently account for 25 full-time teams in Sprint Cup racing and will open up membership in the future to all the teams competing with the series.

The nine initial members are: Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.

Alliance leaders said they wanted to discuss with NASCAR officials ways to reduce travel and operating costs for the teams as an initial goal. There was a mention of a sponsorship deal with a hotel chain to get reduced room rates and the high cost of transporting race teams to venues around the country.

Some of the concerns make sense when you consider the Sprint Cup series hops around the country on an almost weekly basis. The schedule has the teams going from Florida to Arizona and Nevada, back to Tennessee with a return trip to California, back to Virginia, off to Texas and back to South Carolina for the first eight races of the year.

The schedule does get better in terms of long-distance traveling for the second half of the year.

Maybe NASCAR officials should change the schedule with a designated West Coast tour that would include stops at Kansas, Arizona, Nevada and California on consecutive weekends and then return to the East Coast and Midwest for a stretch of races. That could save the teams some fuel expenses and eliminate the cross-country treks.

But with NASCAR signing a new $8.2 billion television contract with some of the money going to the teams, it seems likely the alliance of car owners will want a bigger piece of that pie.

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