NASCAR Mailbag: Will Monster Energy renew entitlement deal?

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NASCAR Mailbag: Will Monster Energy renew entitlement deal?
By: Tom Errington
Co-author: Jim Utter
Mar 10, 2018, 4:20 PM

This week's questions include everything from will Road America or Mid-Ohio ever host a Cup race to who'll replace Monster Energy as title sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series.

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Lowe's for Pros
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Smithfield Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Mobil 1/Haas Automation
Kasey Kahne, Leavine Family Racing, Chevrolet Camaro WRL General Contractors
Sam Hornish Jr., Team Penske Ford and Elliott Sadler, JR Motorsports Chevrolet green flag start
Ben Kennedy, GMS Racing Chevrolet
Daniel Suarez, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Coca-Cola, Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Dow SILASTIC Silicone Elastomers
Monster Energy logo
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro celebrates his win
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro leads as Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion wrecks

Why aren't the wedge adjusters set up with remotely controlled servo-motors so that adjustments can be made on the fly? – From Jerry

In short, costs. NASCAR's on a path of cost reduction and nowhere has that been seen more than in the pits. The mandated air guns and reduction in over the wall pit crew are evidence of its approach. Anytime you introduce a piece of technology like the practical solution you have mentioned Jerry, it opens up an avenue of development and an arms war. – Tom Errington

What would it take for NASCAR to host a Cup Series race at Road America and Mid-Ohio? – From Davyn

Davyn, considering how exciting the Xfinity race has been at Road America, seeing fully-fledged Cup machinery there is certainly appealing. But don't forget how much power the current NASCAR circuits have, having signed five-year extensions to hosting rights for 23 Cup tracks back in 2015. That means change won't be implemented, if at all, until the next decade. There does seem to be increasing appetite for changes, Charlotte's 'Roval' in the playoffs demonstrates that. The pre-season media days also had several drivers asking for a shaken up calendar, but it remains to be seen how much and how extensive a shake-up NASCAR would do in the future. – Tom Errington

What is the peak downforce that these cars produce. I know it differs track to track, but say in a high downforce setup at places like Sonoma and Watkins Glen? – From Kevin

Kevin, according to NASCAR, its target with its current rules package is for cars to produce approximately 1,650 pounds of downforce. Obviously, every team will have a different set-up and some will get more downforce than others, especially as the season progresses. Much like horsepower, it’s an approximate number that varies throughout the garage. – Jim Utter

Any rumors on who will take over sponsorship if Monster leaves? Do you know what Sprint payed per year as compared to Monster? I understand or have heard that Monster got it for around 20 million as compared to 50 million from Sprint. – From Edward

Edward, you're right that Monster has the NASCAR title sponsorship for a reduced fee compared to Sprint did. It's hard to see who will be primed to step in if Monster does leave, as the off-season has been a "will they, won't they" between NASCAR and Monster. The energy drinks firm has requested another extension on its deadline to decide on a renewal of the sponsorship. NASCAR will almost certainly be casting the net out looking for alternatives, but names have yet to be suggested. – Tom Errington

Why does NASCAR issue penalties for car set-up violations, but allow a driver to push the race leader into the wall on the final lap of the Daytona 500 and nothing is said? Was that because the car had number 3 on it? I hope that was not the case. – From Don

I suspect you're not the only person who shares that view Don. NASCAR walks on a tightrope as to how aggressive a driver can be on track. I share the view that Austin Dillon's 'pass' was a step too far, but it was par for the course in quite a messy race. The key thing is consistency, NASCAR managed Daytona fairly and as long as on-track rule-breaking is punished every time, I see no issue with set-up violations being punished. It's hard to compare those two aspects beyond consistency, but in regards to technicalities the new guidelines are in for a reason, and that's to keep things level. Early signs are that it is working, considering Ford has reversed expectations to be competitive so far in 2018. 

As regards to the #3 conspiracy theory, NASCAR has always had fairytale results and that's part of its appeal. While it may come across as staged to people on the outside looking in, that would be an almighty undertaking just for a nice story here and there. – Tom Errington

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