NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Wednesday April 4, 2007
“The adjustments taken put a greater emphasis on winning races. Winning is what this sport is all about. Nobody likes to see drivers content to finish in the Top 10. We want our sport â€” especially during the Chase â€” to be more about winning.”
Those were the words of NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France in late January when he announced his new points system under the Chase format. You know, the one that is so ingenious he thought of it while in his car on the way to breakfast one morning? In case you’ve been locked in a cave these last few months, I’m referring to the changes that pay both an extra five points to the winner during the regular season, then add an extra 10 points for each win when the Chase rolls around.
Those make it all about winning, huh, Mr. France? Well, guess you haven’t met Jimmie Johnson.
You see, Brian, Jimmie here has won three races this year, and the circuit has only hit the track six times. Yeah, that means he’s won 50% of his starts this year…a pretty good percentage if you ask me. Problem is, Jimmie is third in points behind two guys who have yet to win a race this year. Heck, one of them has finished second to Jimmie twice now!
So, please explain, Mr. France, how it is that wins are worth more. Oh! That’s right, I remember: It’s that sneaky 10-point bonus our boy Jimmie gets per win once the playoffs start which makes his trips to Victory Lane all worthwhile. Let's see; so if the season were to end today, that'd give our young hotshoe a grand total of 5,030 points, and he would be the No. 1 seed in the Chase. It'd also create a big tie for second, where Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick would each have 5,010 points.
Wow! That means Jimmie’d have a whopping 20-point lead heading into the playoffs! What a solid cushion! So if Kenseth wins the first race of the Chase and leads the most laps, and Jimmie finishes second without leading a lap…he’ll have already lost the point lead under this scenario. I'm sure Chad and the boys back at the shop really appreciate that after all the labor they put into kicking the pants off of everyone on the circuit this year.
But it’s all about winning, right Brian? Let’s just say if you believe that much from NASCAR’s CEO, you could probably get clued in on a completed 3/4-mile racetrack in Staten Island he'd like to sell you.
Okay, onto the questions. Give me a shout with a rant, question, comment or your take on any of the myriad of topics alive and well in the sport today. The address is Matt.Taliaferro@frontstretch.com.
Q: God bless you, Matt for saying that you'd rather see what happens post-race than all that pre-race crap. I don't need to see an hour buildup for the race. I'm already going to watch it. I want to see the cars fighting for position as they come to the checkers, NOT a close up of the flagman or the crew high-fiving as the pack comes sliding across the line. The end of the race is the most exciting part, and that is when I could use some of these big mouth announcers’ analysis. Thanks for reading this, Matt, and good job on your articles. â€” Ron S.
A: Very relevant take, Ron; and thanks. FOX treats its NASCAR broadcast the same as its NFL coverage: Give America an hour pre-game show to get the casual fan caught up on current events within the sport while giving the viewing audience a chance to get to know the drivers' personalities. It's a tried and true formula; one that has helped the NFL blossom into the ratings monster it is.
My problem â€” and one that many diehard fans have â€” is that we know what's going on in the sport. The information being relayed to us is old news. So my beef is that after the race, the trusty pit reporters (who I believe do one helluva job) get in two or three interviews, Chris Myers gives us a partial rundown of the updated standings, and it's off to a rerun of The Simpsons.
Note to FOX: If you really want to entertain the viewing audience and give us access to the drivers' personalities, present a thorough lineup of interviews once the race is complete. Candid drivers = viewership = big bucks from commercial advertisers.
Q: Jeff Gordon, what a freaking crybaby! He couldn't get past Johnson even after he tried to bump him out of the way, and then he bad mouths his own teammate after the race for blocking??!! Give me a break! â€” Awesome Bill
A: Fair enough. Gordon laid the bumper to the 48, but couldn't get him squirrelly enough to get by, and Johnson had every right to the real estate he owned at the time. Gordon said on the radio, “If he's going to run me like that, he's giving me no ——ing choice.”
Jeff called it blocking; I call it racing to win, so I did not think his comments were warranted. Still, we have to remember that when these guys get out of the car and a microphone gets shoved in their face, they are all geeked up on adrenaline (see: candid drivers = viewership). Still, I in no way agreed with his post-race blocking complaint. Jimmie raced for the win and got it…I say well done.
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