The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Chase Race #3 Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday October 5, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: Chase Race #3 Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Monday October 5, 2009


Each week, the Frontstretch hosts a live blog during the Sprint Cup race. It’s a great way for readers to interact alongside their favorite Frontstretch writers with videos, live commentary, and live polls. Four of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during the Kansas live blog.

Five Points to Ponder:

ONE: How many teams have a shot at the title after three races?

The presumed two-horse race for the title seems to have now opened up to at least a handful of drivers after this weekend’s race at Kansas. There are now six men within 100 points of series leader Mark Martin, and eight within 115. At this point in the Chase, I firmly believe the eventual champion is within the top 4 (Martin, Johnson, Montoya, Stewart) and another four drivers who have an outside shot at sneaking into contention. I don’t see any driver from Ryan Newman (ninth) on back having a shot at the Sprint Cup this season. Newman and 10th place Carl Edwards need multiple wins to join the fray, but have yet to win while Kasey Kahne (11th) and Brian Vickers (12th) are simply too far back and have too many drivers in front of them to make up the difference. The number of teams in contention is sure to change from week to week, especially with wild cards like Talladega on the schedule, but for right now, this is an eight-team race for the championship.

TWO: Should NASCAR have warned Brad Keselowski to not race as hard around Chase contenders?
Fan Vote – YES: 10%; NO: 90%

One of the more shocking moments in Sunday’s race, part-time Cup driver Brad Keselowski was warned to not drive as aggressive around the Chasers. I’m sorry, isn’t this racing? Aren’t these 43 drivers trying to win? NASCAR telling a driver to not race some teams as hard as others is one of the more embarrassing things the sanctioning body has ever done. Fans are already upset over the lack of competitive racing and phantom debris cautions; the last thing they want to hear is that they don’t want drivers to race “too hard.” Hell, why don’t we just line up the 12 Chase drivers and let the other 31 teams stay home?

THREE: Would you like to see the No. 3 back in Sprint Cup?
Fan Vote – YES: 67%: NO: 33%

During this week’s blog, the question was posed as to whether Richard Childress Racing would keep the No. 07 even though the sponsor the number’s affiliated with (Jack Daniel’s) was leaving the team. This brought up talk as to whether or not fans would like to see the No. 3 return or not, and it appears the majority would like to see it come back at some point. I, too, would eventually like to see the No. 3 once again, but under the right circumstances, with somebody close to the Richard Childress or Earnhardt family earning the privilege to pilot the legendary number.

There’s nothing like a win to get the fans behind you. After scoring win number four on Sunday, Stewart’s championship stock went up in the eyes of many.

FOUR: Does Tony Stewart have a shot to win the title?
Fan Vote – YES: 86%: NO: 14%

It seems fans have been sleeping on Tony Stewart since the Chase began and with finishes of 14th and 9th to start the playoffs, there were no signs of a championship push. Yet suddenly, with a win this week, one of the best drivers over the first 26 races is just 67 points out of the series lead. Stewart has the talent, the team, and the experience to bring home the Sprint Cup this season, joining the trio of Johnson, Martin, and Montoya as a favorite to win it all. I don’t see any reason why Stewart can’t win the championship.

FIVE: What grade would you give Sunday’s race?
Fan Vote – A: 14%; B: 29%; C: 43%; D: 14%; F: 0%

As we do on a weekly basis at the Frontstretch blog, fans were asked to vote for which grade they would give the weekend’s race. This week, the results were all across the board. The race had a few early cautions, some long green flag runs through the middle portion, but some great battles in the closing laps. All in all, I’d have to grade the race a “C” simply because it lacked the “wow” factor. Nothing really set it apart it from any other race this season, and it was really nothing more than average.

Notes to Ponder:

Junior’s rough day: This was supposed to be another chance for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to build some momentum, but a front row start resulted in nothing more than a 36th place finish after mechanical problems.

Logano’s rebound: How great was it to see Joey Logano bounce back from his Dover roll last week with a win in the Nationwide race Saturday.

Piquet’s move: Nelson Piquet, Jr., better known from F-1’s recent crashgate scandal, will be testing for Red Horse Racing this week. Are these F-1 drivers coming to NASCAR a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not sure yet.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


©2000 - 2008 Mike Lovecchio and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

10/05/2009 12:44 PM

A addition to point #2…Another twist to this is with just 5 laps to go, Kyle Busch rubs fenders with his brother, Kurt Bush. Kurt being one of the chase drivers, does NASCAR tell Kyle not to race his brother hard? Not that I am aware of! Favoritism running rampant in NASCAR? Yes!

Out of the top 11 cars, 10 were chase contenders. Why? Hmmmm, let me see? Maybe because the other drivers were afraid NASCAR would yell at them too? I remember when a race was all about the race and the trophy…..not about the chase! Let’s go back to that!

Kevin in SoCal
10/05/2009 01:14 PM

Maybe those 10 drivers are just that good, and that’s why they’re up front all the time? Go back and look at the last 10 races over the last few years. The guys who are racing for the championship are the ones up front.

Oh wait, but that makes for a better conspiracy if you say NASCAR is telling the other 31 drivers to hang back and let the Chase drivers run up front. Do you really think the other 31 drivers dont want to win anymore?

10/05/2009 02:49 PM

It’ll be nice to see the #3 out there again; hopefully Austin Dillon will keep that number once he comes to Cup.

Keep in mind that the #07 car was the #30 before the JD sponsorship came, so it would make the most sense to run that particular car as the #30 again.

10/05/2009 03:55 PM

Did anyone actually hear the discussion between NASCAR and Brad Keselowski’s team, and did anyone hear the conversation leading up to their message being passed? Given that Brad is coming to the cup series next year full time, AND he’s clashed with some of NASCAR’s boys in the Nationwide series AND he turned Edwards to get his only win (though Edwards deserved it for blocking) AND that early in the race, Brad was a bit out of control in some moments around several drivers – perhaps it was just some fatherly advise by Mike Helton to calm him down, before he completely wipes away any chance of earning respect during his rookie year. Don’t get me wrong, I like Brad and I like his “don’t push me around” attitude, but sometimes you need to pick your battles, and taking Montoya out early in the race, (taking further competition away from Martin and Johnson for the cup) is not the way to do it. I’ve met Mike Helton on several occasions and he carries himself as a fatherly figure. Some part of me says that was a good call. If he would have wiped Montoya, and at one point Johnson, the list of people questioning his future would have included – Johnson, Montoya, Edwards, Hamlin, Busch – how many more do we need to add? Perhaps the message should have been simply “Calm Down” and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. AND for all I know, that was the message that was delivered but by the time it got to the broadcast, the actual words were changed.

10/05/2009 05:35 PM

Nothing fatherly about it, they just didn’t want the Hendrix boys wrecked. Yes Brad is a bit rough around the edges, but guess what, that is what puts butts in seats. Do we want a bunch of Jimmy Johnson vanilla drivers every week? No thanks, there is no possible rational explanation for telling him not to race them hard, embarrassing and stupid.

10/05/2009 06:44 PM

Has Nascar ever told Kyle Busch to ‘take it easy’ around the full time Nationwide or Truck series guys? He’s driven through several of them the past couple years, and Nascar doesn’t seem to mind.

tom dalfonzo
10/05/2009 07:35 PM

I honestly think it should be Jeffrey Earnhardt who receives the #3. When Jeffrey Earnhardt is promoted to Cup racing, he should get the #3, along with GM Goodwrench as the main sponsor.

10/05/2009 10:01 PM

“Hell, why don’t we just line up the 12 Chase drivers and let the other 31 teams stay home?”
You mean there really are 31 other teams? According to the TV coverage, I thought there were only twelve. Granted, if I watched the whole event, perhaps I’d see more. But I can’t waste that much time on such fluff.

10/06/2009 12:44 PM

The amount of conspiracies people come up with always amazes me – First we have NASCAR always protecting Dale Jr except that this week an official nailed him on a dropped lugnut, and then threw a caution while he was on a later pitstop putting him two laps down (so much for that protection). We also have NASCAR working to bury Mayfield because they are such a strong, secret society that they can do anything, but wait, Hendrick is even stronger so he controls NASCAR and tells them how to run the race so his boys will win everytime – except for Dale Jr, because they don’t seem to protect him anymore. Give me a break…. I hear Race Control telling teams to cool it all the time, from Robby Gordon, and both Busch brothers and even Dale Jr. Listen to RC and you’ll hear the directives being issued. And it wouldn’t surprise me if NASCAR did tell Brad to cool it around the chasers because they don’t need anyone taking out any of the chasers within distance of Martin or Johnson, because that would start a new round of complaints that the trouphy is being handed to Hendrick. If Brad would have taken out Montoya or Biffle, people would be yelling that Hendrick paid Brad to clear out the competition. I like Brad but Brad was trying too hard. There’s aggressive and then there’s stupid, you don’t need someone stupid determining the outcome of the championship.

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