The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: New Standards and Clinch Scenarios by Summer Bedgood -- Friday August 17, 2012

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Four Burning Questions: New Standards and Clinch Scenarios

Summer Bedgood · Friday August 17, 2012


Has NASCAR inadvertently set a standard for itself?

The lack of a call on the final lap of last week’s race at Watkins Glen has a debate roaring in the NASCAR community, and as such may have changed expectations. See, even if NASCAR couldn’t see the oil, the fact that they let the race play out on the final lap even though it was pretty obvious that something was going on speaks volumes.

So what happens if, say, someone blows an engine, runs out of gas, or cuts a tire on the final lap this weekend at Michigan? The fans will fully expect NASCAR to leave the race green. Unless there is a very serious wreck, it will just be an expectation simply because of what happened last week.

I’m not saying that all fans will want that. I know for a fact there were plenty of folks who weren’t happy with NASCAR for leaving it green with oil on the track (mostly Kyle Busch fans, but still…). But one thing NASCAR struggles with—much like Busch—is consistency. Their calls and positions tend to fluctuate “based on circumstances,” but why is this one so special?

Well, to be honest, it sucks watching the cars cross the checkered flag under yellow. If something happens to a driver at the end of the race, unless it’s catastrophic, the expectation will be for NASCAR to leave it green. If they don’t, there will be hell to pay from fans on both sides of the aisle. The “pro-caution” side for making a call that they didn’t make last week, and from the “anti-caution” side who wanted to see them race to green.

They may have felt like there was nothing more that they could have done, but NASCAR needs to be careful what happens from here on out.

Do “clinch” scenarios make the race better or worse?

Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski can all clinch a Chase spot this weekend based upon various scenarios. Let’s just keep it simple, though: If they leave Michigan 145 points or more ahead of 11th place, they’re in (except for Keselowski, who can only clinch a wild card this weekend).

Jimmie Johnson is among the drivers who could clinch a Chase spot this weekend in Michigan but will those drivers throw caution to the wind in the remaining regular season races with nothing to lose?

This scenario is always hyped up once those spots are locked up because the drivers are effectively racing the rest of the regular season with nothing to lose. Right … so why should we keep watching? Apparently because the fact that they have nothing to lose means that they race harder which means more on-track action. It sounds great in theory, but still, where is the incentive? The incentive is already hardly there because the points are going to eventually be reset, but start adding in key players that are “locked in” and they have every right to disappear until after that actually happens.

I guess if you really do need a boost, that wild card race has been surprisingly fun to watch. There’s always that!

Should there be an international Sprint Cup Series race?

Watch this weekend’s Nationwide Series race in Montreal and tell me those spectators don’t love them some NASCAR. Hey, rednecks are everywhere!

No, seriously, they love racing up there. Sure the fact that there are a few Canadians in the race helps matters, but you still hear cheers for the American drivers as well. When the race gets tight, the stands get louder, and anyone who has spent any amount of time at that track on race weekend will tell you that they’re like Talladega without all the visible man-boobs.

While the chances are slim that it will actually happen, I would love for a race to be added to the schedule up there. I personally have several Canadian fans on my Facebook and Twitter pages, and they have just as much knowledge and passion for it as anyone else. Why shouldn’t they have at least one date to call their own?

Does Kyle Busch recover on and off the track?

Personally, I think Busch will snag one of those wild cards before the checkered flag flies at Richmond … if he can keep his temper in check. Busch was doing everything right in Watkins Glen until he feigned that punch. A heat of the moment, well, moment at its finest, Busch’s raised fist at the TV camera showed some clear, and deserved, frustration on Busch’s part.

I have to ask this, however. Would Jimmie Johnson have done that? Jeff Gordon? Even Tony Stewart, who historically doesn’t have the best relationship with the media? Forget about personality for a second. Champions of the sport can maintain their cool in an extremely tough situation. Yes Stewart has been known to throw a few verbal jabs at times, but you haven’t recently seen him threaten anything physical.

It’s little moments like that that make me thing Busch just isn’t quite championship material yet. He’s talented, sure, but his mannerisms need to be a little more toned down during tense moments. Improvement is good, but control is better.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
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Steve K
08/17/2012 02:23 AM

Kyle Busch can’t win a championship because he clenches his fist. Got it.

08/17/2012 08:38 AM

keep things “toned”. just what you need? nascar has become boring and people like you want to keep it that way. don’t offend a sponsor. I guess you have not noticed the empty seats and low ratings. keep your “toned” I’ll find something else to entertain myself on Sundays.

Sherri T
08/17/2012 08:58 AM

Re: International race for Sprint Cup

Are there many customs related issues that the Nationwide series runs into?

Having participated in trade shows with our friends to the north, I would think the main thing holding NASCAR back are the logistics issues. I wonder if some of the things that have to happen to get cars and equipment back and forth don’t make the teams hesitate due to timing issues..?

08/17/2012 09:04 AM

Yes, please, we need a race up here. Nationwide at Montreal is not enough. Cup Series at Mosport please!

08/17/2012 03:06 PM

Kyle Bush is a jerk. A talented jerk but still a jerk. Even if he wins the championship, he will never be a champion because he can’t control himself. I blame his parents! Yes, we need a Cup race at the road course in Montreal.

08/17/2012 03:23 PM

Caution issue: You can’t compare an oval and a road course for when to throw a yellow. At Michigan, speeds hit over 200 mph. At WG, they barely hit half that, so they are going to treat the situations different.

Kyle Busch is so focused on making the Chase that he has decided to go all the way to Canada to race in a race that is irrelevant to his season as well as race in Michigan. Not like there aren’t any other drivers on the sidelines available this weekend. As long as he has his priorities in line though.

bud sudz
08/19/2012 01:30 PM

At Watkins Glen they hit 180 entering the chicane and it has Steel Boilerplate walls instead of SAFER Barriers.
Remember the last lap crash in the Esses in 2010. There’s plenty of danger with oil on the track.