Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: NASCAR’s Chase… or Chess

I suppose I shouldn’t just blame it on the Chase. After all, I’ve been watching chess matches during the final races of the season for well over a decade. Worse yet, I can’t decide if playing for points instead of wins is an entirely bad thing.

Perhaps some of this ennui has to do with a slight disinterest in the final outcome of the championship. No matter how hard NASCAR has tried to make the last portion of the season interesting for the fans of this sport, one fact remains – there are well over 40 teams on the schedule and most fans have singled out one team for their adoration. The vast majority of us are bound to be disappointed in the victor of the Cup, even if remarkable racing feats occur in the pursuit of the trophy.

Jimmie Johnson, once again, has proven that he is the Iron Man of the fall. Even when his car tried to scoot out from underneath him Sunday, his resident genius crew chief fixed the thing and they still pulled out a respectable 15th-place finish. Sheer determination, concentration and disgustingly boring persistence ensured that not too many points would vanish from his points lead.

That’s playing for points — hoping to place their adversary in check, if you please.

The slight attention grabber in this near-drama is Carl Edwards. Now, he is not coasting, or protecting a lead or just sitting still looking good, the No. 99 team is playing a bit of derring-do, risking all in order to bring that No. 48 ship within range! They didn’t refuel when they should have. Running on fumes and hope, the Office Depot machine managed to do what nobody thought possible… finished the Dickies 500 with over 100 miles on the tank.

See also
Bowles-Eye View: Carl Edwards and Co. Driving with Nothing to Lose

I think that rather blasé checkered flag, complete with an 11-second lead over second place, may have just thrown a wrench into Chad Knaus’s three-in-a-row strategy.

Now, the Chase just might get interesting. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Like any championship-level match, the last two races of this season appear to be destined for something slightly greater than predictability. There is still a chance that Johnson’s team will stumble again. It’s possible for Edwards to pull yet another lucky rabbit out of a hat. I, as nothing more than a bystander, don’t have the second sight needed to forecast the outcome of the next move on this checkered playing field.

So, despite a lack of deep caring for whichever driver sits at the head of the table in New York next month, I am intrigued. For a sport that prides itself on split-second reflexes and spur-of-the-moment decisions, this slow motion movie to the season’s finish line has drawn my attention. I am trapped.

I hold on to one hope. The season will end. Whether there will be broken records or broken hearts, there are only two more moves left to be made.

It is with tapping fingers I am left wondering how to speed this entire process up.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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