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Roush buys Menard's way into Daytona Nationwide series race


Qualifying for the Daytona Nationwide Series race was rained out, leaving team scrambling to find a way to get into the race. Jack Roush, who is running the #98 car for Paul Menard for the entire 2010 schedule, found the best way money and the promise of additional assistance to the teams that wound up n front of his #98 car to start the race.

This is the real problem with NASCAR; they have no real way to set a field should it rain. It seems kind of ridiculous that they fail to plan for this since it is an issue in all three series more than a few times a year. In the Cup series it is pretty cut and dry, but NASCAR made a very questionable decision to set the remainder for the Nationwide Field based on where those teams drew for qualifying.

Menard drew 49, which means had there been qualifying he would have been he 49th car to post a time. However, since qualifying was rained out he was automatically eliminated from the race due to where one of his team drew a piece of paper out of a hat. Sorry NASCAR, but that is crap, I thought this was racing, not pick a number.

Since Menard is going to run the full season, and ran 16 while attempting 17 Nationwide series races in 2009, it seems he should have had precedence over the others who drew better qualifying draws. It is not like we are talking about a who's who of NASCAR racing here. Roush had to buy out #52 Donnie Neuenberger, #96 Dennis Setzer, #49 Mark Green, #42 Parker Kligerman, and the only guy who was actually going to race #97 Jeff Fuller.

Now we can bet that Fuller, driving for Brian Keselowski in an under funded team, very likely would have been a start and park team. Putting that aside the question really becomes who makes this race better for the fans? Fuller who was 36th fastest in practice, or Menard who was fourth in practice speeds, and finished the actual race in sixth?

Instead of being mad at Roush for doing what he had to secure his driver, who is running the full schedule with a full time sponsor, for the series championship, a spot in the starting field. Let us be mad at NASCAR for picking a ridiculous way to set that starting field. Early in the season it should be the top 30 in the previous season owner’s points, all previous season race winners, and then the fastest cars in practice for the current event. It should not be where a crew member drew a number from a hat.

There is a priority here that NASCAR fails to realize, should everyone who shows up get to race or get a chance to race? Or should the priority be guys who will make the race field better? Sure Menard isn't exactly a star but he will run the full season with a big time sponsor, for a team that refuses to lose. In my mind he should get the priority to start over an under funded probable start and park team.


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