The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Richmond Reaction, Fantasy Talk, and A Junior Fan's Last Stand by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday September 16, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: Richmond Reaction, Fantasy Talk, and A Junior Fan's Last Stand

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday September 16, 2010


As writers, we strive to accurately report, comment on, and entertain. It’s often our job to take what the sports’ drivers, officials and the like say, then apply it to a relevant piece that informs. I find that listening to differing opinions of those within the sport — those affected by a rule change, penalty, etc. or the trusted old sages — helps me to form an educated decision on whatever the matter may be so that I can relay those thoughts.

That’s why it’s funny when a driver comes along and says something so perfect, so succinct, and so completely in unison with what I’ve been thinking for weeks, but I haven’t been able state it just right yet.

See, it’s my job to say it “just right,” not Carl Edwards’. He did, though, and when I read what he had to say about tweaking the points system, I knew someone had finally hit the bulls-eye. Take it away, Carl:

“My opinion is that you should just take the points and the rules and lock it in stone for a certain number of years. That repeated longevity of a system will lend credibility to it. If you keep changing it, it is hard to believe that this is the champion and [the person who] deserves to be champion.”

Carl Edwards’ recent comments on the credibility of the Chase echoes what many fans have thought for years.

I haven’t heard anyone say it better yet. Thanks, Carl. If the roles are ever reversed, don’t expect me to drive your car as well as you express opinions.

OK, he we go with Chase VII. Share your thoughts with me using this little link and I’ll get you in next week.

I enjoy listening to the podcast with you, Tom, and Braden. You guys sure gave a lot of hype to the Richmond race, which turned out to be a dud. How is it that all these guys with nothing to lose and no reason to not lay it all on the line for a win managed to bore us all to death. I nodded off over the last 100 laps and woke up in time to see the last 12 or so laps. What circumstance was more perfect for all of them to bring home the flag or the steering wheel? What is it going to take? Very disappointed by the show.
— Marc

A: I thought the race had its merits, and I was at least awake through the whole thing. I’ll agree with you in that I didn’t get the sense of reckless abandon from the drivers I believed I would have — in fact, many of their post-race comments had a shrug-of-the-shoulders feel. When asked about falling 10 additional points behind Denny Hamlin by virtue of his win, Jeff Gordon actually said, “Well, 10 more points, what the heck.”

He wasn’t the only driver with that attitude, either. Marc, I think they’ve figured out that the Chase is its own animal, run in its own unique set of parameters and over a long 10-week stretch. In other words, they’ve still got plenty of time. And because the Chase field was practically set on the way in, it was a throw-away race of sorts.

I also think that Hamlin was so good on Saturday, that not many guys, particularly without the aid of a few extra pit stops, could catch him. And had it been anyone else leading with five to go, Kyle may not have been so kind while running second. Remember Richmond in the spring of ’08?

Matt, some advice. My friends and I created a fantasy league for the Chase and without boring everybody with scoring, the basics are: Choose one Chase driver each week, but you can only use every driver once. Highest-finishing driver every week is awarded the most points. We have to make all selections before the New Hampshire race, so it’s not a weekly pick ‘em.

Can you give me an edge? Your one pick for every race (doesn’t have to guarantee a win, just highest finisher). Thanks man!
— Anonymous

A: It’s rare a fantasy question is signed. Hey, I’m a fantasy footballer … I know how it is, and I wouldn’t sign one, either. Can’t give up any ground. Anyway, this will largely be based on each driver’s average finish within the last year-and-a-half or so at each track (three races apiece). It goes:

  • New Hampshire: Kurt Busch (4.0, 0 wins)
  • Dover: Tony Stewart (6.7, 0 wins)
  • Kansas: Greg Biffle (2.3, 1 win)
  • Auto Club: Jimmie Johnson: (3.7, 2 wins)
  • Charlotte: Kyle Busch (5.7, 0 wins)
  • Martinsville: Denny Hamlin (1.3, 2 wins)
  • Talladega: Kevin Harvick (20.0, 1 win)
  • Texas: Matt Kenseth (9.3, 0 wins)
  • Phoenix: Jeff Gordon (12.0, 0 wins)
  • Homestead: Carl Edwards (4.3, 1 win)

Some of those are balanced out by feel (you could use Johnson basically anywhere), but that’s a snapshot for ya. Hope it helps.

Dale, Jr. Are you kidding me???? 6 laps down with no engine or wreck problems? Matt, I asked you this before, do I have permission to jump ship?
— Still frustrated in Boone, NC

A: And I told before — you don’t need it.

Matt, are the Petty’s still planning on two cars next year, or is a third still an option? I’d like to see Elliott back there in the 19. Thanks.
— Becca, Hopewell, Va.

A: Actually Becca, the Gillett’s own the team, and are planning on having A.J. Allmendinger back in the No. 43 and Marcos Ambrose in the No. 9. Other than that, it all hinges on finding additional sponsorship to fund a third ride, and that’s not easy to come by these days. Just ask Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart.

I’d expect your boy Elliott in a top-notch Nationwide or Truck ride. Or both.

Thanks for hanging with me to the end, guys. Shoot me those emails, and we’ll talk next week.

Thursday on the Frontstretch:
MPM2Nite: Here Beside The Rising Tide…
Making A Mockery Of How The Chase Makes A Mockery Of Racing
Driven To The Past: Thinking Outside ‘The Box…’
Fantasy Insider: Two Former Champs A Trendy Pick To Start Strong At NHMS

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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…


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09/16/2010 10:07 AM

I don’t know for sure if the drivers weren’t trying very hard because they were already in the Chase , or if they simply had such bad cars that they couldn’t do any better . But the attitude of “ it was a good points night “ has to stop . The entire points system needs to be changed to make EVERY race a do or die towards the championship . And it can be done . If a drivers / teams / manufacturers championship hopes rely only on winning , you’ll see a lot more more passing , alot more close racing , and virtually nobody coasting along or testing set-ups waiting for the Chase to actually start . Fans don’t watch to see drivers have good points races . Fans deserve to see drivers going flat out for the win at every race , on every track .

09/16/2010 11:00 AM

Did I read this right somewhere? Matt Kennseth has not had a top 5 since March???? If that is a fact, it really shows what is wrong with the “chase”. And Jaime Mac has two wins this year and doesn’t make it. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. If you win a race, you should be in the chase and if there are not 12 drivers, then fill it out with whoever is highest in points. Bet you would see a lot more drivers going for a win and not “points racing.”

Don Mei
09/16/2010 02:06 PM

Mathew and yankeegranny are right on the money. The NASCAR points sytem, combined with the chase format, rewards conservative(aka boring) racing. I just reviewed the Formula 1 and Indycar points systems. Formula 1 second place earns 72% of the points first place does; tenth earns only 4%. Indycar second place is worth 80% of first while tenth is worth 40%. Compare those numbers with NASCAR where the second place car wins 92% of the points for first and tenth place gets 72%! Any wonder that points racing dominates NASCAR? A drastic overhaul is needed.

09/16/2010 03:31 PM

I read somewhere (don’t ask, I don’t remember) that if not for 2 races that Jamie got caught up in somebody else’s mess, he would have made the chase.

Kevin in SoCal
09/16/2010 03:57 PM

Here’s my opinion: If the Chase is going to continue as the top 12 drivers, then the top 10 should be locked in no matter what. Then, positions 11 and 12 are “wild cards” for drivers that won a race during the year but didnt make the top ten. Of course, a driver would have to run all 26 races to be eligible for the Chase. That will give some meaning back to winning a race and make it a tougher fight to stay in the top 10.


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Contact Matt Taliaferro

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Fanning the Flames: Of Daytona, Danica, Dale, and Duels
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2009 Season Review: Ryan Newman
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