OPINION: Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour’s Testing Policy Great News For All
Photo by McCarthy Photographic/Story by Tim Terry
Last week, the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour sent an email out to all teams letting them know the Series would be putting in a new Testing Policy, effective immediately. The policy, which was asked for by a number of teams at the last rules meeting for the Tour, will put teams on a more level playing field when it comes to practice leading up to an event.
The excerpt from the email outlining the rule to teams, and will be reflected in the Maritime Pro Stock Tour procedures, states:
The last day for teams to practice at a track is one week (7 full days) before the event being held at that track. The exception to this policy is if the track has an open practice approved by the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and is open to all teams. If a team practices within 7 days of the event, that team will start last in the Feature, if they qualify. They will still be required to participate in the draw for Heat starting positions and must run their Heat race. If a team does not meet the expected level of competition in the Heat race, they will forfeit 15 points. The Race Director will make the decision on the level of competition.
I wrote an article last week geared for the Tim’s Corner portion of MaritimeProStockTour.com about the new testing rule. While the Series passed on publishing the article, they approved it to be published on TimsCorner.ca.
The article as written follows.
Tim’s Corner – Testing Policy a Good Thing All Round
Race teams got an email from Maritime Pro Stock Tour officials on Wednesday. Within the email included a new testing policy that will essentially ban testing or practice at a host track seven days before their event with the exception of open practices approved by the Series.
What does this mean for everyone? Honestly, I think we’ll see better racing from it.
This type of policy is nothing new. NASCAR and their top three touring series have testing rules, so do other regional touring series, such as the Pro All Stars Series. For fans that may think this is ground shaking, it is quite commonplace on one level or another throughout the industry.
There are a few objectives to a rule like this. Let’s start with the availability of testing at our five host venues on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Some race tracks are readily available for testing and some are virtually impossible to get onto prior to race day. For example, Scotia Speedworld offers registered teams four hour blocks of testing for $50. On the other side, Oyster Bed Speedway does not offer private track time, opting to host open practice sessions most Tuesday nights throughout the season. While testing for Halifax teams at Scotia Speedworld is available by picking up the phone and calling the office, our Prince Edward Island teams are limited to hoping the sun comes out on Tuesday.
The second objective is sort of intertwined with the availability, and that is this sport is a business. As much as many do not want to admit it, this industry has become money fed over the past few decades. Teams have to budget where their money goes. For example, for an Island team, they can come over and rent Scotia Speedworld and while the rental fee is lower than any other track, the team still has to pay to get across the bridge, fuel to and from, probably a meal or two or supplies to keep the grill going at the track to feed the crew. Saving money on testing may allow a team to re-invest that money in another area of the team, or it may allow them to put it back in their pocket in case they bend a car up over the season. The teams that did not have the money to test in the first place are closer to those other teams in theory.
Petty International Raceway and Speedway 660 also offer testing at their facility, but their fee is higher than what Scotia Speedworld charges, and again it comes into the business model. Liken a test session to a product, the business sets the price for the product that will ultimately rake in the most money without over or under pricing it. Ultimately, every track is a business. If a track does not succeed and meet their bottom line, the gates will find themselves shut. That is an article for a completely different time, but everything from test sessions to ticket prices to purses, among other things, are set with this premise in mind. What might work for Riverside International Speedway may not work for Speedway 660, and vice versa.
On the other side, some teams have a bigger budget than others. While no budget is “endless,” some teams have more available funds to make these testing trips. At the end of the day, those teams typically learn more about their cars, get to make notes and most times are better off the trailer on race day than those that do not have the ability to test. Yes, some practice sessions do not get a team further ahead and some even put them two steps back instead of forward, but that’s something they can learn to not do to their car on race day.
The limited track time a week before the event should, in theory, put those teams with plenty of time and budget to test closer to a level playing field with those teams that do not have the resources to go test as frequently.
Don’t get me wrong, our playing field is already pretty level as we see with the product on track, but to make it even closer is going to make the competition that much better and our field that much closer.
Yes, there is a penalty for those found to be testing at a track within the seven day time frame. The driver will forfeit his starting position in the feature that week and start at the rear of the field. The driver must run their heat race and if it is determined they are not meeting an expected level of competition in their qualifier, they will lose 15 points. With our championship and successive positions in the standings coming down to a matter of a single point totals, 15 points could ultimately be huge.
It makes those open tests prior to the events more important than ever. The Tech ‘n Tune held at Scotia Speedworld on May 13th will be the final time a team will have an opportunity to be on the 3/10-mile oval prior to the Lucas Oil 150 a week later. In turn, it might even bring a couple more teams to Halifax next weekend to get their final track time on Scotia Speedworld before Art throws the green flag on May 20th. Same can be said for Riverside who typically holds test sessions on the Thursday before big races and Petty who has held Friday night sessions in the past.
So, if you’re keeping score, this new policy puts teams on a more level playing field when it comes to track time leading up into a race, saves teams money on private rentals and that should produce an even closer product of racing on the track for our fans.
If you’re in the Halifax area on May 13th, be sure to stop by Scotia Speedworld and take in the Tech n Tune for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour from 2pm to 5pm. The CARSTAR Weekly Racing Series will be there from 9am to 1pm for those that want to spend the whole day watching race cars. The best part of it all is that grandstand admission is free!