Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday August 11, 2011
With five races to go until the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, most of the spots are all but guaranteed. Sure, there are a few that could change hands in the top 10 (Denny Hamlin could, for instance, oust Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Tony Stewart by beating the No. 88 or the No. 14 by an average of five positions per race), but for the most part, the heart of the field is set.
But wait, there’s more.
This year’s Chase will feature the top ten drivers in regular points as of Richmond (instead of the previous top 12) plus two drivers who will get in via the newly created “wild card” spots. To grab one of these two places, the driver must be in the top 20 in points. The drivers in positions 11-20 with the most wins will get the two Chase bids, with points position used as a tiebreaker. As of now, the spots would go to 18th-place driver Brad Keselowski with a pair of wins and 11th-place Denny Hamlin, whose single win is tied with Paul Menard and David Ragan, but is higher in the overall standings. NASCAR, and some media as well, would have you believe this is a great thing generating excitement and forcing drivers to go for wins instead of racing for a good points day.
The problem is, it’s not a great thing. It cheapens the championship even more than it’s already been cheapened by the Chase.
The problem with the Chase is not that the championship turns out differently than it would under the old system. The fact is, you can’t speculate who “would” have won, because all the top teams would have approached the season differently, and that means that the outcome under the old system isn’t set in stone. The reason the Chase is a poor way of determining the champion is it gives teams that had virtually no chance of winning a clear shot at the title. It’s one thing to realize that the top three or four teams would have raced the regular season differently, but if a team is seventh, eighth, tenth in points? They aren’t playing the system, they’re that far behind for a reason: they simply aren’t championship caliber teams that year. And yet, the current system gives them back what would have been a nearly insurmountable deficit.
The wild card positions make it even worse. While many will say that the race for these positions are all in fun, that they aren’t really going to contend, there’s also the possibility that they could finish in the top spot. And I’m sorry, but an 18th-place team in August doesn’t deserve to be a championship team in November. In order to win the title without NASCAR’s help, 18th-place Brad Keselowski would have to beat points leader Carl Edwards by a dozen positions every race for the rest of the year. If Keselowski averaged a fifth place finish for the remainder of the year, Edwards would have to average a seventeenth place or worse. While it could happen mathematically, it’s not going to. And that’s just taking Edwards into account. It gets even more ridiculous when you add in Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch having to average sixteenth or worse at the same time. Eighth place Ryan Newman would have to finish 12th or worse every week, and on down the line.
Make no mistake, Keselowski and his team have had a very good year. But a championship year? Not even close, and they shouldn’t be in the position to win one. The same goes for Hamlin, Menard, and Ragan. Solid season, not a title season. Not when even drivers within the top ten don’t have much of a case for being champions. Tenth-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr., would have to beat Edwards, Johnson, and Busch by six spots a race as well as overcoming six other drivers. Sixth-place Matt Kenseth would have to beat all five drivers in front of him by at least two spots per race to have a chance, and even that’s a tough order.
The wild card spots do nothing positive for NASCAR. They make an already contrived championship even more so. There is nothing wrong with simply admitting it’s not your year and working on being better next year. In fact, teams like the No. 2 would probably already have an eye on 2012 if not for the wild card. It’s possible that focusing on the Chase will actually take away from their chances of being a legitimate contender next year.
NASCAR already has a system in place in which teams that don’t deserve championships can win one. The last thing they need to do is to bring in teams that deserve titles even less than some top ten teams. This isn’t football, where one game decides who moves on and who ultimately wins. It’s not basketball, baseball, or hockey where the title is decided in a series of contests between only two teams. It’s a sport that demands performance at the top of the pack every week for ten months. To tell the teams who have done that, “Good job, now we’re taking away what you guys earned so these guys can get back in it” is just absurd. Adding, “Oh yeah, these guys had a couple of wins, even though they weren’t consistent enough to get the job done, so we’re letting them in, too” is even worse.
There is a reason teams get into championship contention in points before the reset in Richmond: they earned it by being better than the other teams. If having a champion with multiple race wins is truly that important to a sport that did just fine with that possibility for fifty years, then tighten the Chase requirements to a top 10 in points and at least one win, and if only five drivers make the Chase, so be it. Better yet, give drivers a huge number of bonus points for a win and dump the Chase system altogether. But don’t make an already flawed system even worse by giving drivers who are barely in the top 20 in points the undeserved chance to take the title from drivers who have earned it all year long.
Sure, it might add a feel-good story for the fans, but warm fuzzies don’t win legitimate championships. Sure, it adds an element of suspense, but there could be plenty of suspense if there was no reset with the top three separated by just ten markers.
The Chase was contrived before. With the addition of the wild card, it’s contrived and cheap.
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Most of the “media” members that support the Chase either work for NASCAR or ESPN, who broadcasts the Chase races. Of course they think it’s great…they want to keep their jobs.
The amazing thing is that NASCAR continues to try and shove the Chase down everyone’s throat and keeps saying how great it is, no matter how far the ratings and attendance drop and how many fans utterly hate it.
Any other sport would have promptly dumped such an unpopular playoff system in the trash, never to be seen again. Not NASCAR. They still think they’ll somehow get people to like this turd.
I can see where consistency across the entirety of a season is a legitimate way to choose a champion. At the same time, I think a good argument can be made that in a race, whether you are talking about a single race or a race for a championship, it is the team that crosses the finish line first at the end that wins. It really doesn’t matter if you led 399 of the 400 lap race, the one that leads the last lap is the winner.
So, for me, I like that the Chase format rewards improvement over the course of a season. In the old system, a driver could accumulate an insurmountable amount of points through the early part of a season (NW the past few seasons) and coast through the last 1/2 dozen races protecting a lead. In the current situation in Cup, the championship format seems to reward consistency as well as those teams that pull off some spectacular displays of tenacity. I like that a team that started out slow or had a few too many DnF’s in the early going, can catch back up with a long consistent run, or can break through with a couple of wins. In the current system the top five or six teams will still be in the hunt, and the other teams that fill out the remaining spots are given an opportunity to pull off an upset with a string of great runs in the last ten races.
I like the idea that a Brad Keselowski or a Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Tony Stewart could pull together a 10 race streak and win the big trophy at the end. History shows that that isn’t going to happen, but occasionally a wild card team wins the Superbowl, so it can be in NASCAR. I don’t think it cheapens the championship, but instead, makes the championship more difficult to attain. Maybe the Chase is contrived and has destroyed NASCAR, but I think the new points system fused together with the wildcard spots may have salvaged the Chase and given NASCAR the opportunity for the best season in years. No, it isn’t my granddady’s NASCAR, But, a Buick is no longer my grandaddy’s Buick. Have you seen a Buick lately? Those are fine looking cars.
If you want to fix NASCAR, fix the race car. I think the Chase is an innovation worth preserving, at least for a few more years.
I hate the chase but I think adding the wildcards made the turd less putrid. It definitely makes winning very important for any team that has chase aspirations. As far as I’m concerned the guys that are 11th and 12th in the points have a snowballs chance in hell of winning it. Statistically about the same as the wild card guys. You are right Amy, those guys are that far back in the points for a reason – they haven’t been consistent.
Members of the media keep wondering why Jimmy Johnson isn’t universally acknowledged by fans to be on of the greatest drivers of all time by winning 5 ‘title’ in a row. I say it’s because he won them all under the ‘chase’ format. I find it hard to be as impressed with someone who basically gets a ‘do over’ for the final 10 races points wise, than someone who has maintained that excellence without being given a ‘tight points race’ with 10 races left in the season. While I admire the team’s excellence, it’s like Kyle Busch’s ’100 wins’. A feat to be aplauded, but not exactly awe inspiring. Or necessarily legit.
I loved your comment about Jimmie’s 5 championship being like Kyle’s 100 wins. While both have won they are circumstances that question the legitmatimacy of thier numbers.
Like everyone else, I have an idea for how I’d determine the championship. But we’ve been hashing this out for 8 years, why bother?
Brian France says that there have been no complaints about the Chase so that’s all anyone needs to know. Here’s a novel idea, next time you redo the points/championship, sit all of the Hall Of Fame honorees down in a room and give them an evening to sort it out. Who knows better than them?
Brian’s Brainstorm for 2012; only allow drivers whose first or last names begin with the letter “E”. Makes as much sense as what we have now.
I find the chase format interesting. If a wild card driver somehow does win the championship then he must have earned it in the final 10 races. That would mean he outraced everyone in the chase. Too bad for 18, 48, 22, 99 ect. if they choke in the last 10 races. That just means they didn’t deserve to win. Stop worrying the cream win stay on top. There is a reason that a team is in 18th currently. Just because he has one lucky finish and one actual racing finish doesn’t mean this team can compete for 10 consecutive races.
The Chase gave us Kurt Busch a Title! Kurt Busch started the first chase 7th in points and due to some bad luck by some others he won the championship. So why would you think with a wild card turd of a race like Talladega in the mix, that a Wild Card cannot win the Chase? The Chase is horrible, it was King Brian’s great idea to compete with the NFL. We see how that is working out. I do like the new points system but let it run over an entire season and get rid of this stupid playoff format
I don’t understand the hate for playoffs – all major sports have a playoff. It keeps the public’s already fleeting attention span focused longer. Just because a team/player is a great regular season competitor, doesn’t necessrily prove their heart or their compete level until they have to prove it when it matters most. Baseball purists were up in arms about wildcards, now MLB is looking to add more. You can’t tell me Wildcard Weekend in the NFL is crap – it offers some of the best games all year. And this Wildcard chase almost guarantees that the 8-25 places in the standings are going to be absolutely racing balls-out for the rest of the “regular season” to get a couple of wins and snag a spot. The chase may be flawed, but the Wildcard is a great addition. I am no NASCAR appologist, BZF has absolutely damaged the overall product and in the process destroyed local racing and the entire feeder system, but this part is actually intriguing.
Amy>> I guess that is like just because you write stuff for Frontstretch, that doesn’t make you a journalist. And remember, all you are giving is your uneducated opinion.
Personally, these last 2 spots are just a side show created by Nascar to make things exciting during the summer months. While it is making it more exciting, it won’t change much come Chase time because those 2 drivers have a slim chance at being in contention anyway, so it doesn’t really bother me.
The part I hate more is not giving the points leader after Richmond any type of advantage. Instead they give the other Chase drivers free points (see Jimmie Johnson) and award them the championship because they are good for only 10 races.
The last few races before the Chase will be the most exciting ones of the year. Once the Chase starts it will be back to the points racing boredom that has been the staple of the Chase championships since its inception.
I agree with Tim. People like Amy complain that the Chase system rewards “stroking,” but the addition of these wild card spots forces teams to go all out and actually race if they want to make the Chase and win the Championship. Isnt that what you want? Or do you prefer to see Carl Edwards “stroking” and just running well enough to beat his competitors by 2 or 3 spots every week?
Kevin in SoCal-
Ramblin’- not to be adversarial just for the sake of it, but that accertation is crap. The closest thing to a season-long championship in major sports used to be baseball as their format only allowed the 4 division winners to play for the championship – the “dog days” of summer created next to no excitement and the ratings reflected that. Since MLB went to 6 divisions and 2 more wildcards, their are way more teams involved and most playoff matchups are not settled until the final days of the season. Fans have a huge stake in staying involved. And it must be working, as MLB is about to expand the playoffs yet again.
In racing, it’s all done on sponsorship. If the fans tune out, especially the periferal ones, then sponsors simply will not get involved. No sponsors = no racing. Additionally, given the ridiculous rulebook and the allowable level of tinkering leeway that a car builder has, the big-money teams that can test the most, have the most engineers and the best programmers for their simulations, are always going to have a big advantage, especially at the beginning of the season when new engines and setups are introduced to respond to the ever-changing rulebook. Contrary to popular opinion, the spec-racer COT that NASCAR now has makes it MUCH more difficult for new teams to compete as when you get to higher levels, it is the micro-adjustments that make winners, and those micro-things cost huge bucks. Back the rulebook off and allow some innovation and the newer and smaller teams could compete much easier with some out-of-the-box thinking. Further, if a team is way ahead, or at least set in their position, they have traditionally used the last several races as “test and tune” sessions for the next year, using experimental engine parts and funky setups, and caring nothing at all about going for a win. Not a very exciting way to get to the end of the season.
Last, take a look at the standings – the only thing that matters is top-10’s – top 5’s and wins mean almost nothing. The playoff, especially now with the wildcard, will allow for teams that started off behind and got their poop in a group part way through the season to actually get in the hunt. And to make that work, teams need to push for a win and not just settle for “another good points day”.
THE CHASE IS JUST PLAIN STUPID…SO MATT WON IT WITH ONE WIN. I GUESS ALL OF THE OTHER RACES MATT JUST SIT ON HIS BEHIND OR NEVER SHOWED UP AT THE TRACKS. GEE BABY BRAIN IS A NUT CASE JUST LIKE MIKE IS. I CALL THEM THE [OLD POOPS]
So Amy, I guess you don’t like The Chase. I guess we’re in the majority.
No one is paying any attention. KING BRIAN wants it and he is always correct, therefore it is better. Nuff said.
How hard can it be to base the title format entirely on winning races? The driver with the most wins wins it all. In the words of Al Davis: “Just Win, Baby”.
I hate the chase, but adding the wild card has helped revitalize the importance of winning. This season would be very dull without it.
No wins, No Chase. Put that in the rule book.
Comparing the chase with wildcard spots to the chase without wildcard spots is like comparing the smell of a skunk with the smell of a dead skunk. You’re going to want to hold your nose regardless.
Any seasonal championship based on performance in individual contests is “contrived.”
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