NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Scanner Static: Is Tony Stewart Missing the 2006 Chase Bad for the Sport?

Q: No other way to say this: NASCAR should have made a last-minute exception and put Tony Stewart into the Chase. It’s their series and they can do what they want to anyways, so they should have done it. They wouldn’t have had to knock anyone out, but if they just felt like only 10 drivers could be in, they could have kept Jeff Burton or Mark Martin out of it. Neither has won a race this year, so don’t tell me they’re suddenly going to win the Chase. I won’t turn the TV on again until Daytona in February. – Storm

A: What Burton or Martin may or may not do in the coming weeks is irrelevant. They’re in the Chase because they took care of business the first 26 weeks and Stewart didn’t; end of story. If I had to guess, you’ve probably got a “20” decal on your vehicle, and while I can sympathize with you from a fan standpoint, everyone knows the rules and every driver knows what they have to do. Stewart just didn’t do it, and he admitted that after the race.

Q: Do you think the past year’s champion should get an automatic entry into the next season’s Chase? I do. I think there’s some changes that need to be made, and I’m sad that Stewart won’t be there to defend his title. – Debby Markus

A: If NASCAR wants to make some changes in the future, then I’d agree that the previous year’s champion should get a spot, along with any multiple-race winner from the current season. If Kasey Kahne had missed the Chase this year despite having five wins, it would have been outrageous. And by the way, Stewart qualifies under either idea (he has two wins so far in 2006, the only multiple winner on the outside).

BOWLES: STEWART MISSING THE CHASE A SHOCK

Q: So much for the battle of the home improvement stores. How the (expletive) did Stewart miss the Chase? – Clarence

A: The most recent issue was the loss of his primary car in Richmond practice, but that begs the question why the team didn’t have a capable backup car with them. That points to poor planning. The bigger issue, though, was the injury to his shoulder earlier in the year and the amount of damage it did to his Chase hopes over the weeks that followed.

Q: (On multiple teams) I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy because that would allude to it happening behind our backs, NASCAR does it right in front of us. You make the point that it takes money, but overlook that NASCAR created this issue. By letting car owners own multiple teams throughout various divisions it has made some just a powerhouse (Hendrick/Roush/Childress). Single/two-car teams can’t make the cut at this point, when you hear rumors of Yates or Wood possibly getting out of the business it’s not a good sign (even if they are just rumors, there still may be a grain of truth in there that got then started). Until NASCAR faces the huge multi-car owner problem, you can’t help but to feel for the small teams. – Chris2

A: There’s no doubt that’s true, although one two-car team (DEI) has a Chaser (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) this year and Evernham has made the Chase the last two years with Jeremy Mayfield when he was a two-car team (he’s a three-car team this year with Scott Riggs added). The issue here is that NASCAR is a publicly-held company these days, and does so much business with other publicly-held companies that pleasing the stockholders becomes job number one. That’s what causes races to be moved from Rockingham to bigger venues, and for NASCAR to allow ultra-rich teams like Roush to have more of a say in the matter than smaller teams. It doesn’t help, either, that Roush is a hardline capitalist who’d like nothing better than to corner as much of the NASCAR market as possible. The question is whether NASCAR will do something to change this, and the answer is probably not.

Q: Who do you think will win the Chase? I think this could really be Earnhardt Jr.’s year. – Cathy A.

A: I think Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick are the favorites, with Kahne and Kyle Busch the next most likely winners. I’m not pulling against Kahne, but I also know if he wins that we’ll see those “I CAN’T BELIEVE WE’RE GOING TO MEET KASEY KAHNE!” commercials with the queens of distracted driving, and I’m not sure my poor eyes and ears can take that.

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