Friday Faceoff: Cheap Championships, Driver Disappointments & Joe’s Woes

Welcome to Friday Faceoff! What do you get when you take some hot-button NASCAR topics and hand them over to our dedicated and… er, opinionated staff? A little disagreement and a whole lot of thought-provoking insight! Check out this week’s edition to see what everyone is arguing… um, we mean, discussing this week!

1. Many fans have said that winning a championship under the Chase system cheapens the title because the points are reset before the final 10 races.  Is a Chase title really worth less than one won under the old, full season format?

Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer: I don’t think it cheapens the title at all. If there had been a similar format throughout the history of NASCAR, drivers and teams would have made the adjustments to that as well. I actually like this Chase format a bit better because if a driver has a bad race in one of those first two or three races, there is still a chance to get to the next round and stay in the title hunt.

Matt Stallknecht, Assistant Editor: The fans who say that are wearing rose-colored glasses and are stuck in the past. There is/was nothing inherently more or less prestigious about winning a title “the old way.” The three formats all simply require different strategies in order to be successful under them. This argument has honestly gotten old at this point; the season-long championship formats that many motorsports series use are completely littered with their own sets of flaws. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt that Matt Kenseth‘s one-win championship, the one where he essentially stroked it for half the season in the back half of the top 10 every week, was a far bigger sham than even the current system could be construed to be. The reality is that there is no right way to crown a champion in ANY sport. The most deserving champion is the one who most effectively exploits whatever the title format is; thus, any title under any format is prestigious to me.

Is a championship won under the new look version of the Chase as prestigious as a titlewon under older points formats?
Is a championship won under the new look version of the Chase as prestigious as a titlewon under older points formats? (Credit: CIA)

Mark Howell, Senior Writer:  I believe that any championship structure that challenges teams each and every week is a valuable one. The old days of padding points and playing the numbers game seemed to lessen NASCAR’s true potential. By putting the emphasis on winning and tossing an elimination-style format at Cup teams, I think the title circa 2014 will mean much more when compared to how championships used to be determined.

Justin Tucker, Contributing Writer: In no way does this new Chase format cheapen this championship. To me, this new format rewards both winning and consistency evenly. Although I am not a big fan of the new format, it sure beats the days of when the championship was decided with five races to go.

Joseph Wolkin, Contributing Writer: The Chase format is just as effective, if not even more so, than the traditional points system. A champion is one for a reason. It requires consistency for 36 weeks, and in this new format – nothing short of perfection in the final 10 events. With this new format, no one truly knows what to expect. However, the level of excitement has certainly been heightened, and these next 10 races will show why it is going to be one of the most important title races in NASCAR history.

Vito Pugliese, Senior Writer: It isn’t from the standpoint of the current points format, and there were indeed different methods used to calculate points before the Latford system that was used from 1975-2003. But it truly does cheapen the first 26 races of the season, including the four marquee events (the Daytona 500, Southern 500, Brickyard 400 and Coca-Cola 600), as well as both road course events. The reason for it is something I have always had an issue with. It wasn’t that the previous systems were unfairly awarding titles, it was just that the outcomes were less than nail-biting in 2000 and 2003, and NASCAR was looking for a way to draw in more fans and compete with the NFL in the fall. Both have proven to be filled with folly and a colossal waste of time, because if it hasn’t happened after 10 years – it is not going to.

Huston Ladner, Assistant Editor: From a broader perspective, what does “worthless” mean?  Pretty sure that the history books will show that whoever won under this format was still the champion.  Now if the question is meant to ask whether the new Chase format is one that succeeds in crowning the “right” champion, it’ll be Homestead that lets everyone know.  But NASCAR has what it wants, which is the equivalent of a wild card team in the NFL being able to run the table and lift the big trophy.

Amy Henderson, Managing Editor: It’s hard to compare eras in NASCAR; the era in which Richard Petty won his seven titles was largely a time when teams could cherry-pick races at their best tracks with less serious competition, Dale Earnhardt won his seven championships at a time when the competition wasn’t as deep or parity as close as it is today, and if Jimmie Johnson wins a seventh, they will be Chase, not full-season titles.  But I’ve heard the arguments about competition being closer than ever and how everyone in the field is bound by the same rules… and I can’t help but think that the last 10 championships are weaker, somehow, than those won where excellence over the course of an entire season meant that a hot streak at any time of the year was no guarantee of a title (and, conversely, one bad race at the wrong time didn’t guarantee all was lost).  I just can’t quite hold the Chase champions in the same regard as the full-season winners, as much as I’d like to, because it’s not their fault that they race in an era where hype is more important than substance. The new Chase is even harder to take-one driver could be consistently the best for nine races… and lose it all in one week. I think that does cheapen the title.  And I think many fans feel the same way I do.

Mike Neff, Short Track Coordinator: Absolutely. Racing is not a stick and ball sport. Historically winning a championship in racing is about performing the best over the entire season. It isn’t about getting hot at the end of the season or at the right time. Racing is about being the best over the long haul. Changing the format so that it is the best person over a string of predominantly mile-and-a-half tracks with no road courses certainly made the title different. It is now about the driver who gets hot at the end of the year, and the latest iteration is really about who can get hot for four races out of 10, provided each of the four races takes place in a different segment of the Chase.

Phil Allaway, Newsletter Editor: It’s arguable that the newest format cheapens the title even more than the previous versions of the Chase.  In Chase 4.0, you could essentially win at Las Vegas and take six months and coast if you wanted to.  You couldn’t do that in the past to anywhere near the degree that you could in 2014.  In the past, winning didn’t guarantee anything, other than the bragging rights and pelvic thrusting that comes with winning.  As far as I’m concerned, the championship as presently constituted does not reward full season excellence.  It’s stilted toward racing on intermediate tracks and dependent on “peaking.”  At the same time, a championship is a championship.  Whoever’s waltzing out of Homestead with the trophy in November gets the same trophy that he would have gotten had it been a regular full season title chase.

2. The focus on Saturday was on the drivers and teams who made this year’s Chase, but some notable names were not on that list after Richmond.  Which team not making the Chase will go down as the biggest disappointment so far in 2014?

Jeff W: Not having Tony Stewart in the Chase for the second straight year is a major disappointment. Even before the sprint car incident in New York where Kevin Ward, Jr. tragically died, Stewart was on the very fringe of making the Chase. I thought with 16 drivers allowed to make it in this year, he would be an easy pick to make it. While missing the Chase each of the last two years was because of unique (and tragic) circumstances, it’s a shame not to see Stewart competing for the title.

Mark: Not having Kyle Larson in the Chase seems like a great disappointment. Not only would it be great to have a rookie in the post-season, but Larson is proof that NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program is more than just wishful thinking about diversifying the sport. Larson’s got the talent, he’s got the team and he’s got the fan appeal as a youngster to help bolster NASCAR’s future. It’s a shame he didn’t make the Chase.

S.D. Grady, Senior Writer: It would’ve been nice to see Kyle Larson in there, but it wasn’t really expected. We expect Tony Stewart to be part of the Chase picture. So many things have conspired against him over the past year; I know he can’t be at the top of his game. Hopefully avoiding the glare of the Chase media circus will give him time to heal, in many ways.

Joseph: Clint Bowyer has been the biggest disappointment of 2014. The entire Michael Waltrip Racing team has not adjusted well to the new aero package and it has shown with not exactly poor results, but finishes not to their standards. Although he has had some strong runs, the driver of the No. 15 Toyota just isn’t where he needs to be. Moreover, another disappointment this year has been Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. He has fallen victim to Roush Fenway Racing‘s abundant struggles, but has slowly made gains this year. Stenhouse is mired in the 27th position in the standings, and has yet to prove he is capable of winning races at NASCAR’s highest level after entering this year with high expectations.

A year removed from a scandal that rocked his team, Clint Bowyer ended the 2014 season without a Chase berth. Was he the biggest disappointment of the season?
A year removed from a scandal that rocked his team, Clint Bowyer ended the 2014 season without a Chase berth. Was he the biggest disappointment of the season? (Credit: CIA)

Vito: Clint Bowyer and the MWR No. 15 team in a landslide. It was bad enough they got their teammate booted from last year’s Chase, and effectively their largest sponsor to boot. A few weeks ago things looked like they were going to be fine, but as they have all season, one botched pit stop or mechanical short-coming after another has the team that had two cars (momentarily) in the Chase last season with just none this year. Can’t really blame Michael Waltrip for wanting to go dance on TV to get his mind off things.

Kevin Rutherford, Senior Editor: Michael Waltrip Racing just got sad this year. One can argue the team never fully recovered from last year’s Spingate, and there’s probably some merit to that argument. But this year, the organization only had two full-time teams to focus on for the season and couldn’t get either of them – one of them a winner last year, mind you – into the Chase. Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers haven’t been awful this year, but their inability to produce under the new format is fairly damning. We might be witnessing the beginning of the end for Waltrip’s team in terms of competing with the top-tier organizations.

Phil: Arguably Clint Bowyer.  He worked his buttocks off to get in at Richmond, but he really hasn’t performed all that well this season.  Remember, just two years ago, Bowyer finished second in points.  He fell a bit to seventh last year, but that fall was at least partially due to the stupidity surrounding Richmond.  The whole team is in a funk right now.  Richmond was Bowyer’s best run of the year.  It’s the only time all year that he’s really been anywhere close to winning.

3. NASCAR heads to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend to kick off the Chase.  Is that intermediate track the best place to kick off the title run, or should NASCAR move the opening round of the playoffs somewhere else?

Matt: I am of the opinion that the Chase opener should be a marquee type event to really kick the playoffs off in style. Bristol, Indy, Darlington, Daytona… the sport needs to have a big-event kind of race to really get momentum built for the last nine races. So with that in mind, Chicago doesn’t really fit the bill for what I’d like to see for the Chase opener.

Mark: Start the post-season with some fireworks – open the Chase at either Daytona or Talladega. Tracks like Chicagoland (or should I say “Jolietland”) blur with other intermediate-sized layouts and provide an often-lackluster start to what is intended to be Sprint Cup’s major showdown-to-the-death. If fuel mileage or pit strategy are necessary evils to challenge a team, make it at a place where those variables really mean something.  Opening at Chicagoland seems to diminish the atmosphere of what Brian France wants to accomplish.

S.D.: Well, why not? It doesn’t have the cache associated with some of the other NASCAR tracks, but if the sport is trying to build its Midwest market, it’s a decent choice. It’s really up to the track to assist in making itself into the indispensable kickoff location. They should call Texas and ask how it’s done. I don’t love the racing in Texas, but I love the hype the promoters bring to their shows.

Would a more exciting track, such as Talladega, serve as a better place to kick off the Chase? Credit: Mike Neff - Frontstretch.com
Would a more exciting track, such as Talladega, serve as a better place to kick off the Chase? Credit: Mike Neff – Frontstretch.com

Justin: Chicagoland is one of the biggest borefests of a 1.5-mile track that we go to. I say let’s spice things up and make either Road America or Iowa as the opening race. Too many 1.5pmile tracks in the Chase as is, with little wow factor.

Joseph: Chicagoland Speedway is certainly a good track to open the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It has a twist with high speeds and a backstretch that isn’t fully straight, providing a little more excitement. With the track’s location in close proximity to one of America’s largest cities, there aren’t many other places that fit the start of the Chase. Like the saying goes: it doesn’t matter where you start, but it’s where you finish.

Vito: There is no reason to have the Chase start in Chicago other than that it is a major media market. The only place more anti-climactic and uninspiring to start the playoffs would be Kentucky, or where it used to start, New Hampshire. At least the Bears are on the road in San Francisco next weekend and maybe a few of the kielbasa crew will show up to the track. Speaking of San Francisco, there’s a track up around that way that would be a pretty nifty place to host a Chase race as well, but that just hasn’t happened. The same holds true for upstate New York, and Elkhart Lake, Wis., as well.

Huston: The obvious answer is that any track that’s not a mile and a half or bigger would be a great place to start the Chase, but after the tepid sense of competition at Richmond, it doesn’t really matter.  Heck, why not start things off crazy and go with Talladega?  Chicagoland has seemingly become one of those friends from college/work that you attempt to forget but shows up when least expected.  You’re not thrilled to see him/her, but it’s tough to just walk away with indifference.  The governing body still needs to pump enthusiasm into the Midwest but Chicago has never really been a hotbed for NASCAR and the track doesn’t quite jump out as marquee.

Amy: NASCAR really could not have chosen a worse venue to kick off what’s supposed to be 10 weeks of excitement.  Any of the intermediate tracks would be a poor choice to start the Chase, where some casual fans may tune in to check out the playoffs, because the racing is just not likely to live up to fans’ expectations.  While at least Chicago doesn’t overhype the excitement of its race a la Texas, getting the Chase underway at Dover or Loudon (or better yet, by getting Talladega out of the way), would help keep fans engaged in the racing.

Kevin: Who cares? Under the new format, the first race is pretty bereft of much intrigue, since the same 16 drivers are in until after Dover. To that end, the races at New Hampshire and Dover are probably going to be far more interesting regardless of track, so why spend too much time worrying about where the series kicks off the Chase? In fact, Chicagoland’s probably one of the better choices; if past races are any indication, it’s going to be a boring race, so putting it in a low-intrigue spot suits it, rather than making it, say, the final race of a given round.

Phil: There’s probably 15 different tracks on the schedule that would be a better place to start the Chase than Chicagoland Speedway (not to mention a few places that aren’t on the schedule).

4. With all the talk about title favorites, one team that hasn’t been on that list much is Joe Gibbs Racing. The team also seems to have lost a step in the Nationwide Series this season.  Why is JGR having so much trouble getting up to speed?

Jeff W.: Sometimes an organization just seems to lose its edge and it could be for any number of reasons. You wonder if too many people are getting comfortable being in the same roles. You wonder with the organization working to get a fourth team up to speed for next year, if that took just a bit of time away from the normal operation for some key people. You wonder too if not building its own engines has taken a bit of that personal touch away from the shop, making it a little more difficult to be personally invested in what’s happening on the track.

Mark: Joe Gibbs Racing needs to get its house in better order. All teams experience ebbs and flows of staffing and overall management, so what’s going on at JGR (whatever the issues might be) strikes me as being quite natural and rather expected. It’s the operations that never seem to suffer from stress or strife that make me highly suspicious of what’s going on behind the shop doors.

S.D.: There is one JGR team that can still do this: the No. 20. The only thing Matt Kenseth doesn’t have this year is a win, but it’s not like he wasn’t up in that top 5 every single week. I wouldn’t write him off. The No. 18 – well, it’s pretty clear Kyle Busch has checked out. He’s not on board for even figuring their mess out. Denny Hamlin has been a distant shadow in the mix this year. There is something missing, but not all of their teams are done for the year.

Huston: It’s possible that TRD is part of the problem here as MWR hasn’t really shown speed all season either.  Combine that with JGR’s move to four teams for next year and maybe the organization didn’t keep all of its focus on this year.  Or maybe things go in cycles and they’re just having a down year and need to tinker with the engine-aero combo.

Could JGR's 2014 struggles be chalked up to issues with their engine supplier, Toyota Racing Development?
Could JGR’s 2014 struggles be chalked up to issues with their engine supplier, Toyota Racing Development?

Amy: Toyota’s horsepower disadvantage is the subject of a lot of garage scuttlebutt, and if they are as far behind as has been speculated, it’s no surprise that Joe Gibbs Racing (along with Michael Waltrip Racing) is behind the 8-ball; they’ve even lost a step in the Nationwide Series.  But I’m not convinced that’s all that’s going on.  JGR is not a team known for its chemistry between drivers and even drivers and crews at times, it’s got a new driver (with a sizeable ego) coming on board to shake things up, a crew chief who was suspended for six critical weeks after some creative engineering to add some downforce, so it’s clear to see that this organization has some complex issues to solve if it hopes to contend for a title.

Kevin: It’s all about RD and its inability to perform in 2014 – just look at Michael Waltrip Racing, which is struggling as well. I wouldn’t call it a rebuilding year for the team in the Cup Series, but there seems to be just a few ingredients missing – and maybe the organization’s imminent expansion is partially the culprit. That said, Gibbs slotted all three teams into the Chase and have won races this year, so if its teams can clean the wounds and get focused, we may be talking about them come November after all.

Mike: It is hard to say one thing is the problem at JGR but every team has maintained that the organization is off in the speed department. Generally speaking, speed comes from the power under the hood. JGR disbanded its engine department three years ago, or at least turned most of the engine work over to TRD in Costa Mesa, Calif. Initially that partnership seemed to result in improvement of their engine package but, in the third year of that partnership, it seems the product out of California has fallen behind the competition. Whether ramping that engine department back up would bring more speed is debatable, but one thing is for sure: the Toyota camp is chasing Penske and Hendrick when it comes to ponies under the hood.

Give us your Chicagoland prediction!

Jeff W.: Jimmie Johnson gets the win, and all  of a sudden everyone is saying, “oh no, not him again.”

Matt: My pick for Chicagoland is Mr. Joey Logano.

Mark: Clint Bowyer. Too much, too late….

S.D.: Kyle Larson – why not? If he didn’t make it into the Chase, he can at least make a splash in it.

Justin: It’s go-time, which means it is time for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team to be at their very best. I look for Johnson to strike first and cross Chicagoland of his bucket list.

Joseph: Jeff Gordon has been on a tear this year, but I believe Joey Logano is going to go to Victory Lane as Team Penske continues to ride high on momentum.

Vito: Kevin Harvick. The addition of the Stew Crew will prove that Harvick’s rampant bitching all season long was justified.

Huston: Brad Keselowski.

Amy: With a new pit crew and his first title within reach, I like Kevin Harvick to win this week.

Kevin: Joey Logano.

Mike: Kevin Harvick

Phil: I’m going with Brad Keselowski for No. 5. Yep.

Frontstretch Staff Predictions 2014

Welcome to our seventh year of staff predictions! Each week, our experts take the end of this column to tell us who the winner of each Cup race will be. But as we all know, predicting the future is difficult if not completely impossible… so how do you know which writer you can trust when you put your own reputation (or money) on the line?

That’s why we came up with our Predictions Chart. The scoring for this year is simple:

 Prediction Scoring
+5 – Win
+3 – Top 5
+1 – Top 10
0 – 11th-20th
-1 – 21st-30th
-2 – 31st-40th
-3 – 41st-43rd

Federated Auto Parts 500

WriterPickFinishing PositionPoints
Amy HendersonJoey Logano6th 1
Mike NeffKyle Busch14th0
Phil AllawayJamie McMurray 4th3

Standings

 WriterPointsBehindStartsWinsTop 5Top 10
Amy Henderson29262812
Phil Allaway 19-10252612
Mike Neff
17– 1215068
Tom Bowles9-195224
Summer Bedgood7-213112
Aaron Creed3-256014
Beth Lunkenheimer3-252011
Jeff Meyer3-251011
Jeff Wolfe2-263011
Brad Morgan0-283112

 

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24 comments

  1. Avatar

    I will never agree with “The Chase” format, or “The Chase 4.0”. It does NOT reward consistency AND wins, and that fact has nothing to do with “rose colored glasses”. A bad idea is a bad idea, whether it was hatched 100 years ago or 11 years ago.

  2. Avatar

    A lot of fans have that one favorite driver, and if that driver didn’t make the chase then the season is over.

    Also, if I’m a team that didn’t make the chase, then I would use the remaining “races” as complete test sessions. There is no need to try and win, and the TV team will ignore you anyway.

  3. Avatar

    I am going to contact TMZ and see if they will investigate Nascar since the Nascar media seem to be afraid to ask the tough questions that fans have been wanting answers to for years.

    It’s easy to write about “Spingate”, but where’s the serious investigation into the yellow flags thrown by Nascar? And that’s just ONE issue that we want answers to.

  4. Avatar

    You’re asking the wrong question. It isn’t “Does the chase format cheapen the championship?”, it’s “Is the chase format the best and fairest way to award a championship in a format where there are 43 team competing against each other every race and success is dependent on both ability and relying on a machine that has 1000 moving parts that can break?”.

    There are 36 races in a year. Having a part failure, a flat tire, a blown engine, getting caught on pit road during green flag run by a caution because someone else wrecked, getting caught up in someone else’s wreck, being in the wrong lane on a late restart, etc, are all occurrences that fall in the category of “bad luck”. Do you feel like these “bad luck” scenarios listed above are in any way a measure of who was the best in any given race or the entire season for that matter? Isn’t the goal of any championship format is to attempt to award the team most deserving with the title? (A reminder here that none of the stick and ball sports with playoff systems have all the teams competing against each other every week so their playoff systems are arbitrary ways to compensate for this fact.)

    Luck will always be a part of all sports but my feeling is that the job of any sanctioning body is to create a system that factors out luck as much as possible thus mitigating it’s effect on competition and results. If you use that as a valid premise then it all comes down to math. In the old format there were 36 races to determine the champion. In the new format there are ten. From a probability and outcome calculation which format has the best chance of factoring luck out of the equation?

    As and example. The probability of me flipping a coin 10 times and it coming up heads every time is much greater than the probability of me flipping a coin 36 times and it coming up heads every time. The probability is greater of things evening out the more times I flip the coin. And thus the chance of bad luck evening out is greater if there are 36 races than 10 races in determining the champion (all things being equal).

    That is why I will never feel the chase is as good of a format to award a championship IN THIS SPORT as the old, season long format. And now, with this new format, getting caught up in someone else’s wreck in 3 races can ruin an entire season. Everyone can certainly envision flipping a coin three times and it coming up heads each time.

    • Avatar

      I agree 100% with what Bill B said. I would only add that at Homestead you are flipping the coin once, and that by far is my biggest issue with this new format.

    • Avatar

      Outstanding post, Bill. Particularly liked this sentence “Isn’t the goal of any championship format to attempt to award the team most deserving with the title?”.

      This is the problem so many of us fans have with the Chase. It doesn’t do that. And the new 2014 format. Well, don’t get me started. May as well reset the points AFTER Homestead and have a pie eating contest. Almost as legit.

    • Avatar

      Billb, you make way too much sense, which is probably why you probably should ask for your 15 minutes of typing that back. Common sense isn’t something Brian France understands much of anyway, especially when it might affect his wallet.

  5. Avatar

    If you think back to the “glory” years of Nascar you will remember that the Championship wasn’t all that important.Sure something to talk about, but race individual race wins were where it was at. Marketing and the quest for more dollars has changed that, thus the chase. I still think we have too much focus on it but that’s just me.
    As to the Toyota horsepower disadvantage, perhaps its not what it seems. Speed comes from other things than the engine. Case in point Penske vs Roush or even SH vs HMS. Same engines, big difference in speed. Just with engines you can blame somebody else.

    • Avatar

      I’ve always wondered if NASCAR even needs a Champion. This much is obvious though, the fans really despise the Chase format. No amount of NASCAR PR spin or sock puppet press is likely to change that.

      • Avatar

        We mostly accept that it is an attempt to compete with the NFL for attention. An attempt which continues to fail btw. But its also something to generate some kind of mid week interest at all.
        Look at all the blog posts and articles about Nascar racing. Notice how few are actually about the nuts and bolts of racing? Even the races themselves at best get highlight reel coverage if that.
        But look at how successful the chase has been. Really!!. its what anybody remotely interested in Nascar talks about, good or bad. And wasn’t that the real idea?

  6. Avatar

    Boy, love it that so many of the writers here are toeing the NASCAR line about how “wonderful” the chase is and has always been, blech! As a fan, I get really tired of the various media saying how because I don’t LIKE the chase it means I am stuck in the past or have on rose-colored glasses. No, actually not, I just think watching and going to races was more FUN before the chase nonsense. And now, look, we have a NASCAR version of “march madness”. Gee, how original — hasn’t that already been done in basketball. Give me a freaking break.

    10 races is NOT sufficient to determine the championship IMO. Ever since the chase was implemented, we’ve seen lots of points racing and Johnson’s team has been stellar at winning enough races to be locked in and then testing all summer long – how does that make racing interesting? Then they stuff their lucky horseshow firmly back in place and run all over everyone the last 10 races.

    Winning races used to be the important thing and the championship was result of running well all season.

    I’m really only interested in how well my favorite driver is doing. I don’t plan to follow the championship as some random exercise. I hope Gordon does great in the chase this year because that is the only way to win a championship. Other than that, I don’t give a rat’s patoot about it.

    • Avatar

      ^^^This^^^

      At least one of ’em had the cajones to call Chicago a “borefest”. More boredom ensures: New Hampshire, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas, & Homestead. Dover is tolerable. Martinsville & Talladega are the only tracks that produce good racing.

      For stock car fans, the only good racing in September is ProCup at Costal Plains (Jacksonville, North Carolina).

      Oh, and Indianapolis is not a marquee event. It’s boring as hell and should be wiped from the schedule…

    • Avatar

      Isn’t it quite interesting that there was less parity back in the days of Petty and Earnhardt, but people enjoyed the sport so much more then than they do now.

    • Avatar

      Bingo on the 48. It’s been at least six years since they’ve prepared a car with any intention of winning a race from early August through Richmond.

  7. Avatar

    Could we please postpone the Kyle Larson victory celebration until there is an actual victory? And while we are at it stop Celebrating Diversity. If you do not get a job because you are black you have been discriminated against. If you do not get a job because someone felt they had to hire a black you have been discriminated against. Discrimination does not happen to groups, it happens to individuals. Call it Affirmitative Action, Diversity, anything you want but it is just another form of the ugly practice of considering the pigment before the person. Everyone seems fine with race not playing a role in the NBA and the NFL, how about NASCAR adopt their Diversity programs and lose the Drive To Discriminate. PS: Where can I get the weekly talking points that most of the racing press uses?

  8. Avatar

    I’ve just come to accept that crowning a champion in motorsports if far from an exact science. In the other sports two teams go against each other in a playoff v. NASCAR where its 43 cars on the track in every race. A win in NASCAR is a lot more important/impressive than winning any one single regular season football/baseball/basketball game, and on any give raceday a championship contender can get caught up in an other driver’s mess.

    Golf is probably the closest comparison to NASCAR where all the entered golfers compete at the event. Golf has also tried a new “playoff” system to try to spice up the end of the season, but in the end all that really matters in Golf are the 4 major championships and maybe the Ryder Cup.

    I don’t like how the Chase has taken focus off the other major races outside the Daytona 500. NASCAR and Sprint/NEXTEL definitely took the approach of promoting the Championship over the big race. While Winston put extra emphasis on big races (Winston Million, No Bull 5). I wish NASCAR would get back to focusing on the big races more.

    As mentioned above, every championship format used in NASCAR has its flaws. However, I think the worst thing for the Chase was the 48 team dominating, especially in a format that promised more parity. If Jimmie had won 2 or 3 of the Chases, then I don’t think the fan outcry would be as large. I wonder how many Rusty, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, etc. fans loved the old Winston format when Dale Sr. was winning 4 of 5 titles?

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      Don’t kid yourself. It doesn’t matter who won the championships, most people think the Chase is a horrible way to determine the champion. Jimmie winning most of them just made it worse. People hate this one even worse and we haven’t crowned one champion under this format yet. Just shows how much people dislike the Chase period.

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      IMO, this was all about ESPN and their TV contract who pushed a more “exciting” format. Of course they are about to be out of it because, gee, this has been a failed experiment. Maybe Sprint, but probably BZF and his idiotic ideas. Unfortunately the fans, who mostly hate it, are still stuck with this crap.

      the funny thing about the whole golf championship thing is that some of their biggest names don’t care if they participate. Mickleson just withdrew, Woods is out of it and no one makes a big deal of that.

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      What is a big race now? Obviously the Daytona 500. The Coca Cola 600 has become borderline unwatchable the last several years the way most night races on 1.5 mile tracks are. The Brickyard 400 is big only for the track where it takes place. The Bristol night race has been crippled by the Chase. A daytime Southern 500 is intriguing and gives me a little hope, if it is a day race.
      Well, I need to get back to join the millions and millions of fans in NASCAR Nation working on their Chase pools.

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    Since when does the curved back stretch at Chicago add any excitement to the racing at the track? If you must start in the Midwest, take the event to Iowa.

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    Wolkin must get a cut off concessions at Chicagoland or something. I’ve never read a more glowing description of a place that has meant so little to anything in racing besides short-term profits.

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    Can someone please explain to me how, if the competition in this era of racing is deeper and more competetitve than ever, how is it that just one team has won so many of the champeenships in the past 10 years? That doesn’t sound like the closest competition ever to me.