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
Tuesday March 4, 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.
The Yellow Stripe · Danny Peters · Tuesday August 19, 2008
Soccer’s English Premier League (EPL) runs from mid-August to mid-May. It’s a relentless 38-game, nine month slog with the 20 best teams in the land, in a country that lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes the beautiful game. Each team plays each other once at home and once on the road, with three points earned for each victory, one point for a draw (tie), and nothing for a defeat. With that easy scoring system, the league title is calculated just as simply: the team at the top of the pile — with the most points after 38 games — wins it all.
Now, there isn’t much English football fans agree on, but one of the most commonly accepted tenets is that, come the end of the season, the league table doesn’t lie. The team that finishes on the top of the pile deserves the accolade, even if they’ve spent the previous 37 games in second place or below. You may not like the way it happens (especially if your team leads all the way and loses it on the last day) but when the final whistle blows on the season the best team always, always wins.
Having watched this system of points all my life, I thought about how I’d feel if the EPL adopted a similar “Chase” format with teams being split off after, say, 28 of the 38 league games. My initial, instinctive reaction was utter horror — and I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone. I imagine this is probably how some of you felt when the Chase was first debuted back in 2004. Back home, the outcry from fans everywhere would reach legendary proportions, and they would kill the idea stone dead before it even began. Let me put it another way: there would be more of a chance Scott Riggs wins 10 straight races than there would be for a Chase format in English football. So, in short, I get the argument of the long-term fan. I see the point they make about the Chase format killing the integrity — allowing the “wrong” guy to win the championship and cheating the rightful points leader out of the crown. I understand why you might despise this “arbitrary” system… I just don’t necessarily agree.
For me, as a late convert to NASCAR, the only points system I’ve ever known is the Chase — so in many ways, I don’t have the benefit of perspective or comparison to the old style. By the time I arrived in the business, the Chase had been instituted and that was that. So the truth is, despite feeling almost guilty, when I read some of the critical articles about it I really have to disagree — for I quite like the Chase. Some might say that maybe I’m not a “real” devotee of the sport, that for running against the common accepted theme of the hardcore fans I’m an idiot who doesn’t understand it. Well, let me be clear here: I’m not saying I love the Chase or that it’s the best scoring innovation in the history of motorsports — nor am I saying it couldn’t get better. What I will say, though, is that it gets a worse rap than perhaps it deserves, and that many of the haters are being critical for the sake of being critical.
The Chase is still 10 races
Another point I’d make here is that if you’re the best in the first 26 races, you should probably also be the best in the last 10. It’s enough of a sample size, and given that all the protagonists are aware of the system, this is even more the case. 10 races also gives you the chance to slip up and recover, a “mulligan” of sorts that keeps you in the running even if you hit some untimely bad luck. Let’s not forget, either, that before 2004 no driver has ever been outside the Top 10 with 10 races to go and come back to win the big prize. You might not like it — but in 10 races, an awful lot can happen that’s not just dependent on the outcome of one winner-take-all showdown.
It’s an equitable and relatively balanced schedule
Secondly, the types of track that make up the Chase are relatively representative of the whole season. Of the 10 facilities, one is a short track (Martinsville), three are one-milers (Loudon, Phoenix, Dover) while five are 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Texas, Miami, Kansas, and Lowe’s) with the final event being the plate race at Talladega. The upshot is that if you were good in the first 26, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be in the last 10. It’s not entirely fair (you’d probably have one less one-miler; but overall, it’s representative and balanced).
The Chase is not the first scoring system change, either
Of course, the Chase was the first major alteration since the previous system was implemented in 1975 — but the fact remains that change in the way the points are calculated is not new. Don’t forget that back in the day, most systems cut off the points at 25th place; so again, the Chase is a massive evolution, but it’s not the first time (and surely won’t be the last) that the scoring system has been revamped.
It creates a whole new category of Chase hopefuls … a new benchmark in the sport
With the Chase cutoff coming post-Richmond, we’ve seen a whole slew of new driver categories pertaining to the Chase. You have the solid Chasers (the likes of Johnson, Kenseth, Gordon, etc.), the Chase aspirants (Bowyer, Hamlin, etc.), and the Chase Long Shots (a category David Ragan would squarely be in right now). Then, you have the Juan Pablo Montoya-style “Chase or Bust” types. In short, the possibility to get into the Chase (or get close) creates a different series of expectations and opportunities — not to mention a measuring stick year-on-year.
Some may consider this contrived or manufactured excitement. Tell that to the likes of David Ragan, for whom just making the Chase would represent a massive achievement — not to mention a sure sign to sponsors that the kid is for real and more than worth a punt.
Having a playoff system doesn’t make it like any other sport
Yes, the Chase is a playoff system of sorts; but again, it’s not that comparable. Plus, I come back to an argument I’ve made more than once in this column, that NASCAR isn’t like any other sport however you hand out the prizes — and I’ll continue to say this until I’m blue in the face.
It’s not perfect — but it’s not bad, either
In 2004, Jeff Gordon held a 60-point lead over Jimmie Johnson and a 61-point lead over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. when the points were reset for the first time. In the end it was Kurt Busch who would, improbably, take the inaugural Chase crown; his winning margin was a mere eight points over Johnson. Had the Chase not been run, Gordon would have won his fifth Championship by 47 points over his teammate.
Those are the facts, but here’s my question: Who’s to say Gordon (or Johnson or Earnhardt) wouldn’t have run differently without the Chase — perhaps a different fuel strategy, a risky two-tire call, etc.? The fact remains that the participants will race according to how the points are given out. Gordon was Chase racing up to and then during the final 10 races. How would he have run differently? No one can know, but I think it’s a point worth making in conjunction with this argument. 47 points over 5,500 total markers is a tiny margin, and it’s hard to say things wouldn’t have played out very differently without the Chase.
Yes, based on the old rules Gordon would have won but neither he, Busch, nor any other drivers who turned a lap in the Sprint Cup Series in 2004 were playing by the old rules.
Tony Stewart beat out Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle by 35 points to win his second crown in 2005. In the traditional standings, he would have held a very comfortable 215-point lead over the Biff and been 428 ahead of Johnson. Edwards, meanwhile, would have been 602 back. In short, the right driver won the championship even if it was closer than it should have been.
Likewise in 2006. Jimmie Johnson won his first title, topping both the Chase and traditional points standings. He beat out Matt Kenseth by some 56 points in the Chase, but using the old scoring method, was just four points ahead of the No. 17. In this case I refer you to the point above about Gordon… four lousy points. If that doesn’t change the way you race, I don’t know what does.
And then we have 2007, when Jeff Gordon had a season for the ages … well, almost. The driver of the No. 24 beat Johnson handily in the traditional standings by a margin of some 353 points. And with an average finish of 5.3 in the last 10 races, it wasn’t as if he was a slouch in that department, either. But Johnson reeled off four wins in the last five races to nip Gordon at the post.
This makes 2008 the most interesting season yet. The Chase has been “right” twice and “wrong” twice, so it will be interesting to see how it swings. If Kyle Busch doesn’t win, would it be that much of a disaster? And come to that, how would the Junior fans react if it were their driver who pulled a “Kurt Busch” and “stole” the championship?
The best teams step up and win it
Well frankly, I don’t see what the fuss about this point is. Why wouldn’t the best teams step up? Isn’t that exactly what they should do? Don’t the best teams always get it done when they need to? Most of the time, yeah, they do. So yeah, in the Chase the best teams do step up — and why this is a problem with some fans, I’m just not sure. Does Jimmie Johnson try twice as hard because it’s a Chase race? No, not at all. Does Junior, Jeff, or Smoke? No. No. No.
The fact is, the Chase could be a lot worse despite what the hardcore fan thinks. Yes, it is more exciting for the new or casual fan; but the fact remains NASCAR needs those new fans. If new fans are not brought into the sport, how can it grow?
Is the Chase perfect? No, far from it; but what is? What’s important is that I’ll be glued to the screen come Loudon — that’s for sure. And so will you.
©2000 - 2008 Danny Peters and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
As a Kyle Busch fan I’m nervous about having my driver’s lead chopped. But I remain in favor of the Chase because it was boring to have the Championship locked up a race or two before the end of the season. It took the meaning and purpose out of the final races.
And for all people complain about the Chase making the media focus only on 10/12 drivers and forget the rest of the field, that’s 7-8 more drivers than they used to focus on. Used to be you had the leader, second place, and maybe, some years, 3rd and 4th to talk about from September through October.
You’re making one mistake though. You said, “If new fans are not brought into the sport, how can it grow?”
The “hardcore” fans who complain about every change don’t want Nascar to grow. They want Nascar to revert back to a small-time, regional sport of purely local interest. Then it will be their own, little, private club again without any Yankees like me or “furriners” like you. ;)
So, where in your “logic” and wisdom, do you ever see the “chase”, or chumpionship, qualifiers, continue to race the “backmarkers”, i.e, those 31 cars/drivers that have been eliminated from chumpionship contention, and have said “backmarkers”, be allowed to influence the outcome of the actual chumpionship?
In simple terms, the chase leading car can be caught up in the wreck of the 43rd position car and have his chance of winning a “NA$CAR CHUMPIONSHIP” be ruined by a backmarker?
That simply does not make any sense whatsoever.
In a ten race run, being taken out by a backmarker is much more costly than if the points system “recognizes” all 36 races.
Ridiculous…the drivers in contention race to qualify and not to win. Want to stir things up? Dump the chase and add 25 points to first place then we will see about “hey we had a good day with the Hayseed Ramada Boiled Turnip Special..ran her into a solid eighteenth place by golly.” Sigh..I guess I still haven’t figured out its not racing; its entertainment.
Chase = Contrived excitement.
Give me good races instead. Fix aero push. Go to tracks that suit the cars, not your market strategy. Stop fixating on personalities and trivialities, and concentrate more on good, hard racing.
Then we’ll talk about me watching again NASCAR.
Thank you Danny. I enjoy the Chase too, as it keeps one guy from stinking up the show and wrapping up the title with 5 races to go. However, the few changes I would make, as I’ve said before, is 5 drivers and 5 races. 10 races still allows for too much points racing, and except for 2004, the champ was all but decided by the final race. And by the time there are 5 races left, its usually down to 5 drivers or less anyway. But by having 12 drivers and 10 races, NASCAR gets to recognize more drivers and exploit the system longer. I would also change the seeding system, so however you finish in the standings after Richmond, that’s where you remain. Reset the points with 10 points separating each driver, and THEN add the 10 bonus points for each win. There’s no good reason why a guy with 5 wins in 10th place should start ahead of a guy with 1 or 2 wins who happens to be leading the standings. That way there is more of a reward for where you finished the “regular season.”
Danny, you make some good points, but I have to disagree. In my opinion, it’s more important for the most deserving driver to win the championship than it is to have the title come down to the last lap at Homestead. The excitment should come from the races themselves, which under the Chase format, doesn’t seem to be happening. Do you really enjoy seeing guys plod around for a “solid points day”?
How about using a variation of the points system from the soccer league you mentioned…3 points for a win, 1 point for a top five, 1 point for leading the most laps.
I have mixed feelings, because I hate seeing what the chase has done to the late summer races, where guys just try to get points and don’t even attempt to win.
But on the other hand, up until a few years ago I basically would stop watching NASCAR at the end of the summer. Football would start up, and that was that for Sunday afternoons. It wouldn’t matter, because by the first of September the championship was typicaly all but clinched anyways.
Someone please answer this for me….if there are only 12 drivers in the chase…..why let the other 31 drivers on the track??? Since the chase started i’ve seen so many in the top 12 TAKEN out just because the driver out there going for nothing more than a day’s pay , wreck one going for the championship and ruining that drivers chance!!!! Yes i’m a granma and don’t understand a lot of things but I have watched Nascar from it’s beginning and I hate the chase. I don’t see anyplace it should be called fair. If there are only 12 in the chase then the races should only be for that 12. Am I missing something here or what?
Thank you Marilyn, you understand the new NA$CAR “system”!
What a joke!
I’m not a business major, but can you imagine sponsors for 26 races, and then those that make the chase get new or different sponsors for 10 more races? Only those with the best chance at winning would have sponsorship for the last 10 races.
Actually, none of it makes sense. Golf is trying this mess and no one pays any attention to it, just to the individual tournament winners. The same with racing. Few people really pay attention to the chase, just who wins the races. The championship really means little anymore except to the rich punk who wins it with his rich owner, who buys it with his multicar operation.
There is one failing point of the Chase that proves its ultimate flaw. A driver can win the title and not win a single race. In what sport can a team that has never won an event be crowned champion?
Yes, it could happen under the old points system and we have in fact had two one race winner champions, Kenseth and Benny Parsons. But the contrived points system that Brian France belched out en route home from Happy Hour one night makes it MORE likely not less. Like the song goes, the fact it ain’t happens just means it ain’t happened yet.
You want to spice up things esp. during the moribund summer months? Institute a points system that pays a massive bonus for winning, very signifigant points jumps for each position in the top ten that inspire the fastest drivers to gun for every position and drop each drivers worst three finishes from the points at the end of the season. In every event it is essential that drivers see an incentive to gun for every spot they can get. Currently a driver in the top 10 sees only a potential bonus of five points for pressing the issue to make a pass, while he fears a massive points loss if he presses the issue to make a banzai pass. Thus they cruise and fans snooze.
As a long time fan, I can tell you in the past, particularly the 60s and 70s, there was a lot less emphasis on the title and more on big race wins. Drivers like David Pearson rarely ran the full schedule. One of the reasons the King has seven titles is because Petty Enginering was one of the few teams committed to running the full slate of events. Even they couldn’t run every race some years because up to three events were scheduled at on the same day in various geographic locatiions.
Points systems adopted from 1971-74 were based on the fact with the factory’s pullout NASCAR was having trouble filling the field. Thus they designed points systems that made it essential that drivers compete in every event and run to the finish rather than parking after 20 laps because they made more money that way from the purse than they’d have earned burning fuel and tires for the entire event.
My friend by your own admission you are new to the sport. The old points system worked. Do yourself a favor. Track down a full set of videos from the 1992 season when the title was decided to by a single lap led in the final race of the year. In addition to the best season of stock car racing ever you’ll get to see the likes of Bill Elliott in his prime, and drivers who predated your interest in the sport like the late Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki. Yes, 1992 was the bellweather but there were other great title chases like 79, 89, and 85. As in any legitimate sport, there were years that someone ran away with the title, but they richly deserved to do so, and that’s the nature of true sport versus entertainment. It’s the difference between the “First 48” and CSI.
You hate what you want too, & I’ll hate what I want too. For me it’s the so called chase. YTG Brian, give us a ten race champion.
There are 12 reasons I don’t like the Chase. It’s only those drivers that are ever mentioned during a race. Unless there is a wreck with one of the leftover drivers. Plus, the 12 rarely “race” because they don’t want to lose positions by wrecking or going laps down. Just watch them give away positions on the track to be on the safe side.
Kevin in SoCal @12:47, good post. I agree with you.
The Chase was a STUPID idea. All it does is screw up the racing the last ten races. You have 31 drivers riding around trying to stay out of the way while twelve guys try to race. STUPID! If I had my way, there wouldn’t be any points system at all.