The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Chase Race #5 Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday October 19, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: Chase Race #5 Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Monday October 19, 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 Lowe’s live blog.

Five Points to Ponder:

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

If you ask some NASCAR fans, the short answer to this question is simple – one. Jimmie Johnson’s “perfect” weekend allowed him to open up a 90-point lead over Mark Martin and 135 points over Jeff Gordon in third. Without a doubt, it’s Johnson’s Chase to lose, but I believe that any driver within 200 points before Talladega has at least a slim chance based on the track’s wildcard status. As of now, that takes six cars out of the championship picture as Martinsville – another pro-Johnson track – approaches on the calendar. I, like many others, think Johnson will be pretty tough to beat (see Point #2), but until he survives Talladega I’d hesitate to award him the Cup right now.

TWO: Will Jimmie Johnson win the championship?
Fan Vote – YES: 71%; NO: 29%

As impressive as four championships in a row will be, here’s an even scarier thought – IF Johnson wins the title this season, he’ll be the favorite for FIVE consecutive championships next season. Sure I’m getting way ahead of myself, but just the mere thought of it happening is a testament to just how dominating the No. 48 team has been. By the way, you can put me down in the 71 percentile that thinks Johnson will indeed make it number four this season. The only hope the rest of the field has is for Johnson to succumb to a mechanical failure and/or crash at Talladega, but if he continues his torrid pace, this championship is indeed his.

THREE: Does Juan Pablo Montoya’s poor finish eliminate him from the championship picture?
Fan Vote – YES: 50%: NO: 50%

The third man in what seemed to be a three-man race for the championship, Montoya finished a dismal 35th after contact on a restart and is now 195 points out of the series lead. The Cinderella story of the Chase thus far, it’ll be difficult for Montoya to reel in Johnson without a lot of luck. He’s still winless on the season and will need the No. 48 team to stumble to have any chance at catching up – something that’s very unlikely. You’d hate to eliminate Montoya after five races – especially when he’s run well in four of them – but if he doesn’t outscore Johnson next week at Martinsville, he’s done.

The first Hall of Fame class was announced this week, but the announcement didn’t meet with much approval from the Frontstretch fans.

FOUR: Do you agree with the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class?
Fan Vote – YES: 30%: NO: 70%

The inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class was announced this week, but it seems a number of fans were unhappy with the selection. The consensus was that Bill France Sr., Dale Earnhardt, and Richard Petty were the top three candidates, but the final two candidates were often debated between Bill France Jr., Junior Johnson, David Pearson and several others. In the end, I had France Jr. and Pearson making the final cut. France Jr. helped make the sport what it is today, and Pearson went to toe-to-toe with Petty, becoming one of the most successful drivers in history. If I have one problem with the first class, it’s that I think Pearson should be in over Johnson — that’s it.

FIVE: Can Dale Earnhardt, Jr. turn around and make the Chase in 2010?
_Fan Vote – YES: 25%; NO: 75%

If there is one driver wishing the 2009 season ended this weekend, it’s Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The victim of bad performance and bad luck when he’s actually running strong, Junior would do anything to start off with a clean slate right now. But with crew chief changes looming and an apparent lack of confidence between the ears of the pilot of the No. 88, I find it hard to believe that Junior can make the Chase next season. With the apparent dropoff between the No. 88 and the rest of the Hendrick entries, do you really think he can close the gap that quickly in 2010?

Notes to Ponder:

Cassill gets a ride: Once a promising prospect for Hendrick Motorsports, Landon Cassill will be piloting the No. 1 for Phoenix Racing at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Roush Fenway leaving: The team with 50 victories in the Truck Series will be departing in 2010, leaving the series on even more precarious ground.

Kahne’s surprising success: Coming into the Chase, the general population of NASCAR fans predicted Kahne would be the least successful Chase driver with all of the internal changes happening at Richard Petty Motorsports. But he’s surprised with three top 10s in five races.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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

10/19/2009 10:40 AM

You know..I am not a big fan of the Chase..if they only wanted 12 cars to run for the championship in 10 races..then make 12 the total field and 10 the number of races for the season and be done with it. (Heaven knows at this point it would sure save the fans alot of wasted time and the media alot of blah blah blah nothing to say wasted air time and column space.) AND..what about lucky 13th place? Seems to me (unlike football or baseball or basketball or tennis etc…in their “playoffs” where ONLY the competing for the title teams play) if you are out there racing and earn more points then the driver in front of you in the should surpass them in the points..not stagnate in 13th position. And what is the reason to have 12 cars in the Chase..but only 10 go to the banquet? Hmmmm…. And why bother racing to be in first place for the first 26 non race races??And why have tolerances if NASCAR is going to let it go (but hey they were why the big nonstory story?? Another HMMM.) My point being..Where the hell did it all go wrong? And if NASCAR does listen..throwing the fans a bone here or there is not going to make us watch next year..And does NASCAR care? Guess not. I guess Jimmie and Chad are just that good…another HMMM. And no I am not thinking “black helicopters” .. I am full out saying “I have seen the mothership and it has a big yellow NEXTEL sign plastered all over it’s sides..!”

10/19/2009 11:10 AM

Whoops..guess I don’t pay enough attention..that would be a “big yellow Sprint sign” whatever….

10/19/2009 12:38 PM

It doesn’t matter really if Johnson wins 4 championships in a row . It also doesn’t really matter if Johnson wins 5 , or even 6 in a row . It doesn’t really matter because NASCAR has ceased to really matter .
If you’ve ever thought about maybe following another type of auto racing , now might be an excellent time to start . If you continue as a fan of NASCAR only , you’re bound to tune in for a race in the not too distant future and be treated to nothing but a re-run of Leave it to Beaver . Because NASCAR is almost over .

10/19/2009 04:22 PM

I can see another racing series coming along in the future. One that would really challenge nascar. I used to think “no way!” but not anymore.

It really could happen. There are SO many current and former nascar fans that are BEGGING for some real competitive racing.

And many drivers want it too.

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