The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Chase Race #9 Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday November 16, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: Chase Race #9 Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Monday November 16, 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 writers with videos, live commentary, and live polls. Two of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during the Phoenix live blog.

Five Points to Ponder:

ONE: Does Jimmie Johnson’s points lead determine whether or not you watch the race next week at Homestead?
Fan Vote – YES: 30%; NO: 70%

What seems like a pretty simple question to any die hard sports fan: “Are you going to watch your favorite sports’ championship?” really isn’t all that simple for NASCAR fans. Unlike stick and ball sports, where the championship is often unpredictable and fans don’t know who the eventual champion will be until the final whistle, buzzer, or pitch, when the Cup Series travels down south to Miami next weekend fans have already conceded that it will take a near miracle for Mark Martin to make up 108 points and pass Jimmie Johnson for the title. Couple that with the fact that it’s been a rather lackluster year for the sport as a whole, and you can’t blame fans for prematurely beginning their offseason routine and recharging their batteries before Daytona in February. Will Johnson win the championship? Probably. But the unpredictability that racing holds makes Sunday’s Ford 400 must-see TV for NASCAR purists. Heck, even if you can’t stomach seeing Johnson, Knaus, and Co. hold a fourth consecutive Sprint Cup, grab a cold one and at least switch over from NFL football one last time to witness history.

TWO: Is the Brad Keselowski / Denny Hamlin feud good for NASCAR?
Fan Vote – YES: 100%; NO: 0%

Like any great feud in NASCAR over the past handful of years, the ongoing rivalry between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski in the Nationwide Series has provided a spark to rather dull racing. Ask any NASCAR fan – as evidenced by the poll numbers – and they’ll tell you drivers should show more emotion. Although a good percentage of fans can’t stand Kyle Busch’s antics, even they’ll admit that he’s a character who’s good for the sport. Keselowski is from the Lil’ Busch mold, and for NASCAR to sit him down and tell him to throttle back on his on-track aggressiveness is absurd. This feud may have reared its head in the Nationwide Series, but what makes it great is that it has the potential to expand to the Cup Series in 2010 and beyond.

THREE: Should NASCAR step in and prevent any retaliation from Denny Hamlin next week?

I may be contradicting my previous point, but there is a difference between showing emotion on the track and off the track. A good ol’ shoving match is alright, but to blatantly put somebody in the wall – especially at a high-speed track like Homestead — is crossing the line. Denny Hamlin was obviously frustrated when interviewed Saturday after the race, but nonetheless warned about a future retaliation and NASCAR should do all they can to see that it doesn’t happen. If Hamlin clearly goes out of his way to put Keselowski in the wall (ala Scott Speed v. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) NASCAR should sit him for the Cup race on Sunday.

FOUR: The reemergence of A.J. Allmendinger

Has anybody else noticed that Richard Petty Motorsports’ decision to put A.J. Allmendinger in a Ford for the remainder of the season has lit a fire under both the team and driver? A 10th place finish last week at Texas and subsequent 13th this weekend is the best two-race average of the season for the No. 44 team, and there is no reason to think the top 15 streak won’t continue next weekend in Miami. With RPM set to sport Fords in 2010 next season, Allmendinger has an opportunity to be a shot in the arm not just for the No. 44 team, but for all of RPM as well.

FIVE: Does anyone really care that Kyle Busch will be your Nationwide champion?

With a 190-point lead going to Homestead, all Kyle Busch needs to do is start the Ford 300 to win the Nationwide championship. Sure, that was his goal when he decided to run the series full-time at the beginning of the year, but is it worth it to not make the Chase on the Cup side? Listen, I’m happy for the No. 18 team on the Nationwide side, but if you had to grade Lil’ Busch’s year across NASCAR’s three national series together – even with the championship and Truck Series dominance – the lack of a Chase berth has to drop that grade to at best a “B” and leaning more towards a “C.”

Notes to Ponder:

Danica in/Danica out: Is anyone else sick and tired of these Danica’s going to sign, Danica’s not going to sign reports?

Crew accident: Six members of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Cup Series team were T-boned at an intersection on the way to the track Sunday morning. Props go out to those individuals for continuing to work during the race.

Bayne signs:. An atta-boy to Michael Waltrip Racing for keeping Trevor Bayne under contract – one of the bright young talents in the sport.

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Carl D.
11/16/2009 01:03 PM

“Does anyone really care that Kyle Busch will be your Nationwide champion?”

Only those people who would care if Lebron James beat Andy Dick in a 1-on-1 basketball game.

Kevin in SoCal
11/16/2009 01:33 PM

I care more about Kyle Busch winning than Kevin Harvick or Carl Edwards winning again. At least Kyle and Clint Bowyer had not won a championship before. And, Kyle and Clint did not continue double-dipping all year after they won, unlike Carl. I like Carl, but his continuing to race full time in the Nationwide series after winning the championship is pathetic to me.

11/16/2009 01:41 PM

Yeah, let’s all applaud a cup driver winning a NNS series. Atta boy Nascar, you’re doing a great job. So the NNS series is circling the drain…at least you raked in some money.

11/16/2009 01:51 PM

I laughed so hard when KB wanted his spotter to ask Matt Kenseth if he knew how important that spot was for him (he could have locked the championship spot). Matt being at teammate to Carl Edwards who was leading the race and silently hoping for KB to have a bad day. I would petty much bet that Matt knew. How stupid is KB anyway? Of course he wouldn’t do any interviews and went stomping off once again. He wasn’t going to win the race and all he has to do next week is start the race to get the championship. He should have been proud to give an interview and brag about how wonderful he is and how that takes off any pressure. Full time cup driver coming down to the lower series and gets the championship he should be proud (no really).

As far as caring if KB gets the Championship, I would be much happier if he didn’t. It’s like Brett Farve going back to high school and playing he take a team to a championship to. I was not pulling for any F/T Cup driver to win the championship. They shouldn’t be allowed championship points. No wonder the series struggles for sponsorships as the non Cup drivers don’t have much of a prayer to get TV time it will be all the Cup guys on TV.

11/16/2009 09:04 PM

Did anyone else find it funny that it was Brad Kesolowski that was called to the hauler? I thought it was Denny Hamlin who issued the threat, and would need some NASCAR counseling.

Definately could care less that JGR has bought themselves a championship. I think if a cup driver wants to run a full time schedule in NNS he should be racing in his OWN equipment et al. KHI. Time for Rousch and JGR to be limited to part time cup drivers or development contracts like RCR, JRM and KHI.

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