By Lee Montgomery
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - I'm not sure what's longer, the title of the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet ... or the banquet itself.
The NNS/NCWTS AB, for short (sort of), started at 6 p.m. Eastern. Well, that's what time it was supposed to start. I was sitting in South Beach traffic trying to get to the Loews Hotel, so I missed the "official" start.
But I was around for the checkered flag, some four-and-a-half hours later. That brought back memories of those 500-mile races at Rockingham back in the day.
And that's just too long, for anyone. It didn't help that the Nationwide and truck series had "split" titles this year, as Brad Keselowski won the NNS drivers championship, Joe Gibbs Racing the NNS owners championship, while Todd Bodine won the NCWTS drivers title and Kyle Busch Motorsports the NCWTS owners title.
Confused? And remember, Busch helped JGR win the NNS owners title, while also owning and driving the truck title-winner.
It was often hard to distinguish who was who Monday night, and the title "NASCAR Nationwide Series car owner drivers' championship trophy" is just too much of a mouthful.
My guess is fans don't care that much that there's a combined banquet, but maybe the ratings for the show on Dec. 3 will tell me different. But I doubt it. This banquet, truly, isn't about the fans anyway. It's about honoring the champions of each series. And that's hard to do with the combined banquet.
I totally get why NASCAR combinbes both: To save money. That's fine and dandy, but remember, hotel rooms at the Loews aren't on a Motel 6 level. Try around $300 a night. How is that saving anyone money?
It's time to go back to two banquets - and maybe it's time to move them to the Charlotte, N.C. area. And maybe it's even time to make the fans part of it.
Why can't NASCAR hold the two banquets on the same weekend, perhaps at the NASCAR Hall of Fame? Have the truck banquet on a Friday night, and then the Nationwide banquet the next night. You could go back to honoring the top 10 drivers in each series, as well as having full focus on the champions of each series.
A day later, to be honest, I'm having a hard time remembering the speeches of the champion drivers, car owners, crew chiefs and sponsors, simply because there were so danged many.
Each series deserves its own banquet, and if you have them both in Charlotte, you save the teams a lot of cash. Plus, perhaps you could charge fans for the "honor" of sitting a table a few hundred yards away from the dais to help supplement the cost of each banquet.
Of course, both series have bigger issues than where the banquet is. But if each series is supposed to stand on its own, why are the champions of both series standing together at the end of the year?