NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud – Phoenix Chase Race 9 – And Then There Were Four

Key MomentsDenny Hamlin was a lap down more than once in the race thanks to a flat tire and a two tire stop that resulted in his car being less than competitive with the faster cars. Hamlin was granted the Lucky Dog under the third and seventh cautions of the race. The No. 11 team not only worked tirelessly to make Hamlin’s ride better but they put him in position to contend at the end of the event and, as a result, they are in the mix for the title next week in Homestead.

2014 Phoenix II CUP Denny Hamlin car CIA
Denny Hamlin, moving on (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

In a Nutshell – Phoenix was Kevin Harvick’s world and the rest of the Chase drivers were just squirrels trying to get a nut. Throughout the race, while Harvick was in or near the lead, the other drivers both in the Chase and outside were facing different challenges that tested their intestinal fortitude. At the end of the day it was Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman joining Harvick in the final four heading to Homestead with a chance at the series title. The other drivers are merely racing for a trophy and momentum heading into the off season.

Dramatic Moment – As the final lap unfolded, Newman, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon were all in the mix to make the final four. As the contenders headed to the line, Newman moved Kyle Larson to advance a position and that was enough to put him in the mix at Homestead and drop Gordon back a spot and out of contention for his fifth series title.

What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler

The single biggest topic this week will be the validity of the entire culmination of the championship Chase next week in Homestead. Every fan of the sport knows the rules changed this season. Most people don’t like it based on comments and general conversations but every driver knew the rules when the season started and they’ve raced their way to this point with the happenstance possibilities foremost in their minds. The series has one finalist who has fewer top 5s than one of the other finalists has wins. Another finalist scored his first top 5 of the Chase at Phoenix this week and has an average finish during the Chase races of 12.44 over the nine events. The driver with the most wins and tied for the most top 5s, the driver tied for the most top 10s and tied for third in the series in wins and two of the other three drivers tied for third in wins are on the outside looking in. In the end, one of four drivers will leave Homestead with the cup that isn’t a cup and forever be known as the 2014 Cup series champion.

NASCAR wants to be like the other stick and ball sports. This week they ended up on another list with those other sports thanks to Kurt Busch being accused of domestic violence. An incident was reported this week that allegedly took place at Dover seven weeks ago in Busch’s motorhome. Busch maintains that he’ll be vindicated when the facts come out. Hopefully this will be tried in the justice system and not in the court of public opinion although the mainstream media has not proven the ability to do that in recent incidents in the sport.

Many NASCAR fans have not been on the earth long enough to remember when the metric system wasn’t being foisted upon the residents of the United States of America. In the 1960s a push was made to try and move the U.S. to the metric system but it still hasn’t taken hold. The U.S.A. Is the only major industrialized nation to have not adopted it as the official measurement system. With that said, we need to stop naming races 500s when they are only 312 miles long. It is disingenuous to the true 500 mile races and is simply wrong in a country that refuses to accept the metric system. While we’re on the subject, it has been said here before that all Cup races should be 500 miles or more. Yes that is 993 laps at Martinsville and 199 laps at Sonoma. This sport is supposed to be a test of the combination of man and machine and that needs to happen for 500 miles every week.

Hopefully we did not see a foreshadowing of the final laps at Homestead during the end of the Nationwide race on Saturday. As Kyle Busch drove through turns three and four heading to the white flag, Alex Bowman ran out of gas and slowed on the track. With the No. 54 some 200 yards from the flag stand, the caution flag flew. The result of the race is inconsequential. The problem is that the outcome of a race was altered over a caution flag that was completely unnecessary. If NASCAR is going to look for any reason whatsoever to throw a yellow in the final laps at Homestead next week, the previous 40 weeks of the Cup season will have all been for naught.

Congratulations to Chase Elliott on winning the Rookie of the Year and series title in the Nationwide series. It is a great story and an indicator of the future of the sport. One word of caution to everyone his is ready to crown Elliott the next dominant superstar in the sport. While he is a tremendous talent and proven he has the mettle to win a championship at the national touring level, he’s not the only outstanding wheel man on the horizon. Erik Jones is just one example of the kind of talent Elliott will be battling for years to come. While Elliott has four wins in national touring series events in NASCAR, he has 41 starts. Jones has four wins but he only has 20 starts. Past performance is not a direct indication of future success but people just need to temper their enthusiasm for Mr. Elliott a little bit before the put him in the NASCAR Hall of Fame next season.

The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune

Clint Bowyer has had a season that most any driver would rather forget, and Sunday was no different. Bowyer had contact with both the wall and Paul Menard. He was then caught up in a wreck with Kyle Busch that sent him into the wall and ended his day. If anything could happen to Bowyer this season it nearly did. He didn’t flip or hit any wildlife but he’s had most everything else go wrong this year. There are very few people in the garage who will be happier to see the checkered flag fly at Homestead.

The entire year hasn’t been bad for Jimmie Johnson but the last half of the year has been rather forgettable. Sunday was the epitome of how poorly the year is closing out for the No. 48 team. The car had a short circuit somewhere during the event which resulted in several pit stops. The car also received damage on the right front from pit road contact with Justin Allgaier that added poor aerodynamics to the difficulties. In the end his car had a failure, pounded the wall and finished the race in 39th position. This season is going to be the worst finish in Johnson’s career in the points and will certainly give the six-time champion the motivation to come back with a vengeance in 2015.

2014 Phoenix II CUP Jeff Gordon car CIA
Two seconds in this round weren’t enough for Jeff Gordon (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

It is extremely rare that a driver finishing in second place receives an award for foul fortune but Jeff Gordon is in the category this week. Gordon finished second at Martinsville and Phoenix. Unfortunately for the four-time champion, he finished 29th at Texas. As a result he finished fifth among Chase drivers in this round of the ‘playoffs’ which means he will not have a shot at his fifth title in Homestead next week.

The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune

A driver who seems to routinely be plagued by foul fortune, Denny Hamlin was bathed in fine fortune this weekend. Hamlin had a tire go flat thanks to a broken valve stem, ended up a lap down but fought hard and received a Lucky Dog. He then put on two tires a little later in the race before the longest green flag run of the event. He went a lap down again and then lost the Lucky Dog spot to Jamie McMurray and then Joey Logano. Three caution flags flew in a 33 lap stint which put Hamlin back on the lead lap a second time. He took full advantage of that positioning to come home in fifth place.

Greg Biffle started the race in 28th position and didn’t move forward very quickly. He did claw his way to the top 15 near the midway point but slid back to the 20s with less than 30 laps to go. Pit strategy and hard racing put Biffle in a solid position that he capitalized on to come home in ninth spot.

Marcos Ambrose crossed the finish line one spot behind Greg Biffle. Similarly he started deep in the field and didn’t get very close to the front until the end of the event. Ambrose had a heated battle with Kyle Larson in the closing laps and prevailed, eventually coming home in 10th. As the checkered flag is about to wave on Ambrose’s Cup career, it is nice to see that he’s still competitive to the very end.

Worth Noting

Kevin Harvick’s win was his 27th of his Cup career in his 501st series start. Matt Kenseth and Richard Petty are still the only two drivers who won their 500th start.

Harvick is now alone in 25th on the all-time wins list. He is sixth among active drivers on the list.

This win is Harvick’s fourth of the 2014 season. He is tied for third on the win list for 2014 with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Harvick’s triumph is his sixth career win at Phoenix International Raceway by far his best track. Charlotte is second on Harvick’s career win list with three race victories.

Jeff Gordon’s runner-up run was his 12th top 2 finish of the season.

Gordon’s second place run was his fourth top 2 finish in his career at PIR.

Matt Kenseth’s third place outcome was his sixth podium run of the season.

Kenseth has four career top 3 runs at Phoenix.

Kyle Larson finished in 13th to claim the Rookie of the Race honors.

Using the current points but no Chase, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano would be the only two drivers with a shot at the title with Gordon 29 points ahead of Logano headed into Homestead.

What’s the Points

Now that the checkered flag has flown at Phoenix, the points truly don’t matter when it comes to determining the series champion. There are no bonus points at Homestead. The first of the four drivers eligible to cross the finish line when the checkered flag is in the air will be the 2014 series champion. The hype machine will be in full swing this week as the season approaches its final weekend. With none of the four drivers previously winning a Cup title we are guaranteed that the ’14 champ will be a first timer.

  1. Denny Hamlin 5000
  2. Joey Logano 5000
  3. Ryan Newman 5000
  4. Kevin Harvick 5000
  5. Brad Keselowski 2320
  6. Jeff Gordon 2312
  7. Matt Kenseth 2296
  8. Kyle Busch 2280
  9. Carl Edwards 2278
  10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2271
  11. AJ Allmendinger 2256
  12. Greg Biffle 2244
  13. Jimmie Johnson 2239
  14. Kurt Busch 2229
  15. Kasey Kahne 2202
  16. Aric Almirola 2170

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – The ace at Phoenix offered as much point drama as anyone could ask for if that is what they are looking for. At some point in the race nearly every driver still among the eight eligible for the final four was mathematically in and out. Unfortunately the majority of race fans watch races to see actual competition and hard racing. Aside from the manufactured beating and banging associated with the double file restarts on the record 12 cautions during the race the majority of the event was more like a mile and a half snoozer. As a result it gets three room temperature Budweisers in honor of Kevin Harvick’s throwback paint scheme.

Next Up

It all comes down to this. 400 miles at Homestead-Miami Speedway to settle the 2014 championship. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. It will be the final race for ESPN for the foreseeable future. It can also be heard on MRN and NASCAR Sirius XM Satellite radio channel 90.

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

44 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
kb

..to say that the drivers knew the rules going into this is stupid..of course they did. Having a inkling of how silly it is (for most drivers) was not enough for them to say..”I am not participating”, really what choice did they have? If you listened to their comments pre and post race since this 10 race farce started, they did not like it and who would? You now have a winless Newman, and a subpar Hamlin with a David Regan like win at Dega competing against the likes of Logano and Harvick….who should be by rights and definition of a “Champ” should be competeting against Kez and Gordon. Yes I know the one with the most wins has not always one a championship etc…during a particular season..but the stats of the lower two against the stats of the ones who cycled out of the “playoff” format is pathetic. If Hamlin or Newman win, anybody in their right mind would have to say…Really this is the best of the BEST for the year..despite what the “rules” were at this moment.

Budsudz

Like it or not, NASCAR has exactly what they want, with a couple of #8 seeds making the Final Four with a couple of #1 seeds. Just like March Madness…..
NASCAR was never intended to be 500 miles at every track. (Yes, they did run 500 miles –and 600–at Michigan and at Riverside originally). But, to go 500 miles on a short track or road course would kill the only consistently good racing we get in today’s series. In fact, I prefer having different distances at the two-race-a-year tracks, like Charlotte and Daytona do. This causes teams to alter strategies.

rg72

Much like New Hampshire, a caution-fest ensued after a series of debris cautions. It was reported that the brake rotor (cause of the debris caution that preceded the Kyle Busch/Clint Bowyer crash) was actually left on the track and not picked up during the previous debris caution. Seems like NASCAR is taking the debris caution to a new level, leaving debris on the track to conveniently have it there for another caution. Funny prior to this caution sequence, there were six Chasers on the lead lap and after it, there were eight Chasers on the lead lap.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if Newman (or to a slightly lesser extent, Hamlin) is hoisting the Cup next Sunday, it will be NASCAR’s darkest hour since the passing of Dale Sr.

Zetona

I saw as much on Twitter—Alan Gustafson said something to Jeff Gordon on the radio along the lines of, “they needed the 22 back on the lead lap”.

There’s been 12 debris cautions between the past two races, and while a lot of those were legitimate, with some of the cautions in the past few weeks you can’t help but feel that NASCAR’s looking for any excuse to bunch the cars up. Similarly with the Nationwide race on Saturday.

Bill B

As expected, between the new chase, the double file restarts, the dubious cautions, the wave arounds and the lucky dogs, NASCAR has created a system where what happens for 90% of the season or 90% of each race doesn’t really matter. It all comes down to a crapshoot at the end of each race and by extension the entire season.
It’s hard to believe it but, if you keep resetting the points and making everyone even, you can keep the championship close. Wow, what a revelation. A genius must have figured that out.

Budsudz

Kind of like a common template race car…

Bill B

No, not even a common template race car can guarantee a close battle to the end like just resetting the points. It’s so genius that an idiot could have came up with it.

GinaV24

Absolutely, Bill, it was the only way Brainless could guarantee a close crapshoot, even if it has nothing to do with reasonable or fair.

Carl D.

As a fan, I feel cheated that only two the four best drivers all season long will be competing for the championship next week. Imagine the season finale at Homestead next weekend if Gordon and Keselowski were in instead of Newman and Hamlin. If Newman or Hamlin win the championship it will be cheapened by a system that rewards luck and circumstance over consistency and wins, but legitimacy obviously has no place in Brian France’s Nascar Circus.

janice

personally i hope ryan wins championship next sunday.

honestly, i was happy when logano and hamlin were lap down, but of course “lucky dog” enabled them to be in contention.

if ryan wins, he will be champion, but the pundits will asterisk his championship by mentioning, over and over, that he didn’t win a race at all in the season. hopefully ryan wins in homestead and he and rc get a champsionship. if ryan does indeed win without a win, then brain fart will have to figure out how to change things again next year to ensure that never happens again.

GinaV24

NASCAR made sure to get Logano & Hamlin back onto the lead lap. They didn’t pickup a piece of debris that was on the track during one caution so they could “throw another flag” to pick it up and then got lucky that another car spun out (or maybe it wasn’t just luck), in order to get the other one back on.

Obviously I’m not happy since Gordon didn’t get into the final 4 crapshoot. I understand that yes, everyone knew the rules going in, but having a pretty darn good season go out the window w/o a chance at the trophy because of this stupid format, well, it just makes me angry.

I recognize that I am biased, but based on a lot of comments from people here and talking to fans at races, well, I’m not the only person who doesn’t like the format – even if Denny Hamlin basically accused all the fans who “don’t like it” of being just sour grapes.

Only recourse I have is to not watch Homestead. My guy is out, that’s what I said I would do and I really do have other things besides watching NASCAR that I can entertain myself with so that’s my plan.

I am not hoping that Newman wins it. I hope that Kyle Larson decides that if Newman can do it, so can he and that Larson prevents No-Neck from winning the trophy.

kb

Denny Hamlin is grasping at straws trying to justify to himself and the weak minded as to why he is even there. While I am not expecting him to bow out or admit he doesn’t belong..deep down in his gut if he was honest with himself, he is there because of the ever changing stupid rules that he lucked into and nothing to do with his performance over the whole year.

GinaV24

Thanks, kb, I totally agree with you.

MilChad

What a joke this whole Chase format is. You’ve got a guy (Gordon) who had two top 2 finishes in the final 3 miss the Championship round. In the mean time you have the 31 make it without winning all year. I too hope the 31 wins the whole damn thing so NASCAR is forced to change the playoff system once again.

Ron Schwalbe

Good to know that the driver with the most season long wins can NOT be Champion, and …. the driver with the most season long accumulated points will NOT be either –????- Just exactly what WILL … this goofy, periodically score changing, slower lapped car rewarding, musical chairs farce determine ??

GinaV24

Hey didn’t you hear? Brian France is “fine” with a winless champion and according to Hamlin’s post-race comments, those fans who don’t like this format are only the ones who don’t have a driver in it. Based on the drivers NOT in the final 4, I would say that is a pretty big segment of the NASCAR fan base if you factor in just those who cheer for Jr, Gordon & Johnson. I have no idea how big Kez or Kenseth’s fanbases are, but Kenseth has been around for quite a while and Kez, well, maybe he inherited all of Rusty’s fans, I don’t know.

kb

I do have one of my favorites in it, and I don’t like this format at all. How logically can one think this is fair or true if Hamlin or Newman takes it. The media and Nascar will say it’s because “your guy” didn’t win..not so..anybody with a brain can see, good, competitive drivers got robbed of the opportunity. To guess who likes who for what reason how ever is kinda lame. Kez has a very healthy fan base, in fact most do..they just do not happen to be considered favorites or relevant in the “popularity contest” because they are not HMS drivers, that’s how I see it.

GinaV24

I wasn’t trying to put Kez down with that comment about his fan base. I simply have no idea because I don’t follow him or Penske. Certainly I’ve seen #2 hats at the track.

I’m happy to hear that even though you have a favorite in the race, you don’t care for it because I know that anything I say will come off the wrong way and be discounted because my favorite didn’t make it. Although I feel as though I have been pretty consistent in my comments about not liking the chase for many years now.

of course what we, the fans, think means nothing at all because we will be drowned out by much of the media drumbeat and NASCAR saying how great all of this is for the sport.

kb

I have been hating the Chase since its inception, I detest this version eve more sore. Kez and Gordon, just to name a few got robbed as their seasons are Championship worthy and should have been there at Homestead vying for it. Not the two..Newman and Hamlin, it just not make any sense.

Carl D.

Of course France is going say that he’s fine with a winless champion, but if that happens, the fans and the media will be pointing out the absurdity of it for years and years.

jerseygirl

I think many of the fans will point it out, but I’m not sure that the media will. Most of the mainstream media seem to be pretty firmly in Brian’s pocket and say what they are told to say.

That goes for the drivers, too. No matter what they may actually feel about anything NASCAR does, they will join hands and sing a happy NASCAR song because the penalty of doing anything else is too high.

That’s why I always laugh to myself if one of the multiple choice answers on surveys is “if the drivers think it is OK, then it’s OK with me”. Yeah, as if I believe anything the drivers say any more. That ended with the drivers meeting when they didn’t like the COT and were told to “shut up and drive”. And we can all see how well the racing has gone since that time!

Robin1

Just to reiterate the absolute ABSURDITY of the “new” Chase rules; the following drivers have had MULTIPLE wins this season and are NOT in the Chase. I don’t love or hate any of them. But based on the amount of wins, they should have been in the Chase, period. The fact that they are not, is complete insanity.
Kesolowski – 6 Wins
Gordon – 4 Wins
Dale, Jr. – 4 Wins
JJ – 4 Wins
Edwards – 2 Wins

Russ

Don’t know which is sillier. This whole chase thing, or me wasting my time on bothering to comment on it.

Bette

So true

JohnQ

Russ, how can you not comment when constant Chase prattle makes it impossible to just watch a race?

Gary

Denny Hamlin in the final 4 for the championship … really? He hasn’t had what I call a stellar year. And Ryan Newman … nice guy but his year he was worse than Hamlin. Newman has only led 41 laps all year. What a joke. My slogan use to be “anyone but JJ.” This year it’s “anyone but Hamlin” because I personally think he’s a jerk.

Scott

Sad to see that we have gotten to the point in NASCAR where we are celebrating Newman’s wrecking of Kyle Larson in order to get Newman into the final four! And to hear all of the announcers praising this move was also a joke. What is this, WWE?

Absolutely ridiculous that this once-proud sport has been dropped down to this level by Brian Z France and his “Brain Trust.” Are we actually going to see one of the drivers wreck someone else next weekend in order to win the “Championship?”

Looks as if I may have some free time next year because I won’t be watching the races after this farce!

janice

yes it is now the new wwe……i instantly thought that when i saw about kurt busch’s latest problems. na$car is now no better than most professional sports. be interesting to see how the busch mess shakes out. a major case of he said/she said.

i hope brain fart is happy.

rascalmanny

So will we see help from teammates in terms of blocking, etc.? Or will all other drivers just move over and ride around?

It’s like having 3 teams on the field in the Super Bowl.

dewayne

Kes will block for his teammate. He owes him from ‘dega……

Zetona

I can’t blame Ryan Newman for knocking my guy out of the finale. He did what he had to do. That was a ballsy move with his whole season on the line. I’m more disappointed with last week—that Jeff Gordon didn’t get a good final restart, and then that his team flubbed the pit stop and trapped him a lap down. One spot would have made the difference.

With that said, that this was even possible shows part of the folly of the points system. If NASCAR truly wanted to emphasize wins and high finishes over consistency, the points system would not give more points to finishes of 3rd, 15th, and 11th (with no laps led) than to 2nd, 29th, and 2nd, having led the most laps in one race and led laps in another.

I’ll be pulling for Newman next weekend, because all things considered I do enjoy an underdog, and if Newman or Hamlin wins it all they’ll have snatched it from under the noses of people who have had far more impressive years. If nothing else, I’ll be able to enjoy the championship race without agonizing over the fate of my driver, so it should hopefully be a good race for the neutral.

Still, this is probably the third time that Jeff Gordon’s lost a title because of the Chase format. I don’t know if he’d have won 2004 if the 48 hadn’t lost a lot of ground with their pre-Chase experimentation, but 2007 was his, and given that Texas may not have happened this year if not for the pressure of the Chase, he might have already sewn up this year’s title.

Kevin in SoCal

No way would people watching on TV sit thru 500 miles of Martinsville, Bristol, or Sonoma. I would support all the races being at least 300 miles, which means 600 laps at M’ville and Bristol. Dover, California, and Pocono were even changed from 500 miles to 400 miles because 500 miles was just too much non-action.

I dont have an issue with what Newman did. He was alongside Larson and leaned on him to make the turn. Its not like he bump’d and ran like so many fans want to see at Bristol, it seems. If Newman turned him, that would be a foul, in my opinion, but he didnt. Don’t we as fans WANT to see driver’s doing EVERYTHING it takes to win?

Upstate24fan

Just stunned again. Well we now have a winless driver with a chance to win the championship. Likely Harvick or Logano will win, but I’m sorry you should have to win a race in the first 35 to be worthy of the title of champion. A part of me does want Newman to win so NASCAR has egg on their face. They have been talking about the importance of winning since January and here we are. Two worthy guys remain with a guy who has 4 top-5 finishes (0 wins), and a driver with an average finish in the Chase of 12+ and missed a race (1 win on a plate track). Sorry, NASCAR racing is not football. People accept an 8th seed getting to the Super Bowl because they go straight up against another team and the higher seed has to take care of business. The Patriots don’t lose to the Broncos because JJ Watt comes out of the stands and “blind sides” Tom Brady.

Again, Gordon will earn the most Championship points in a season, tying him with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. who both did it 7 times. Unfortunately, they don’t give the guy who does that big trophy anymore.

On Kurt Busch, let the police do their work before any conclusions are drawn, but if the allegations are true, he needs to be gone from NASCAR.

Steve

I can’t believe I’m saying this but, even Johnson’s 10 race championships are more legitimate than this farce.

The debris caution with 25 to go was so obvious, it appears they don’t even care about hiding it anymore.

Here’s hoping Newman wins this thing without a win so this thing while blow up in Nascar’s face. It’s all about winning right, Brian?

Was it just me or was Gordon sending a subliminal message to Kes for next week about payback?

500 miles used to be about endurance. With all the technology these days, endurance is no longer a factor, which is why we don’t need 500 mile races anymore, except for special circumstances like Daytona and Charlotte. I like the idea of different distances if a track has 2 races.

janice

i don’t have time to try to calculate it out, but under the “old points system” i wonder what the top 10 would have been like heading to homestead.

i really wonder if ryan does win if they’ll change the chase next year.

and man i DO NOT want logano to win. hendrick’s “satellite operation” is only one still in the hunt. the fact that harvick was so dominant yesterday makes me wonder what kind of hendrick engineering he had under the car.

kb

..he had it all year, not just yesterday.

Kevin

The top 14 in points under the traditional system (thanks to Jayski):
(and yes, I went down to 14th for a reason…)
1) #24-Jeff Gordon(EC), 1217
2) #22-Joey Logano(C2), 1188, -29
3) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.(EC), 1145, -72
4) #2-Brad Keselowski(EC), 1138, -79
5) #4-Kevin Harvick(C4), 1124, -93
6) #20-Matt Kenseth(EC), 1093, -124
7) #31-Ryan Newman(C3), 1093, -124
8) #99-Carl Edwards(EC), 1050, -167
9) #42-Kyle Larson, 1049, -168
10) #48-Jimmie Johnson(EC), 1032, -185
11) #16-Greg Biffle(EC), 997, -220
12) #1-Jamie McMurray, 975, -242
13) #18-Kyle Busch(EC), 964, -253
14) #11-Denny Hamlin(C1), 949, -268

janice

thanks kevin

Tim S.

NASCAR might like the mixture of “seeds” in the final four, but their plan most certainly did not include zero Hendrick Heroes. Based on last year’s move, as of today it’s still not too late for them to make an exception and add a fifth title contender.

Chris

I; like many of the commentators on this site, find the whole Chase to be a rolling train wreck. We’ve gone through all of the reasons as to why the current Chase format is nothing more than watching a bad “Survivor-type” reality show which is why my friends that the Chase format will never change. You see NASCAR doesn’t really care about racing as a sport but what they do care about is money and right now the “reality” show concept sells. Some wizard in the NASCAR marketing department figured out that people not only get sucked into reality shows but also figured out that people don’t seem to care that it’s not even real when it’s pointed out. If people really cared then shows such as “Southbeach Tow” or “Operation Repo” wouldn’t exist. I fear that this Chase format will actually catch on in the next few years with the casual fan who could care less about how many wins each driver has over the seasons, or total points for each driver. Instead this new crop of fans will only care about who survives the ten race demolition derby. Think of it this way; you only need a generation of people such as Summer to make this Chase format a hit and sadly they just may be out there.

The Mad Man

Until Brainless Brian gets his football team for L.A., he’s going to continue to screw the pooch with Chase Version 4 (or it 5? I’ve lost count) and more versions to follow until the track staff at every track outnumbers the paying customers. It won’t be long for some tracks like Charlottte & TMS. The crowds at those tracks are becoming more sparse as we speak.

A lot of folks complained when Kenseth won his championship in the #17 car because of the number of wins he had. The media conveniently forgets about that, the newbies don’t know about it, and the fad fans and Brainless Brian could care less about that bit of history. Wasn’t Kenseth’s championship in the #17 that started this whole Chase mess to begin with?

We can complain, kvetch, carp, moan, groan, & bitch all we want to. Inthe end, the current members of the France family have taken what was once the best stock racing in North America and turned it into the WWE on Wheels. The only thing missing is Vince McMahon and wrestlers in colored tights.

Bobby H

I am a fan of Dale Jr. and a few other drivers; none of whom are in the “Chase”.

Saying that; not having Kesolowski, Gordon, Jr., and Johnson still eligible is a farce.

Wins don’t count for anything in the regular season I guess.

The new “Chase” format is awful; it’s almost close to scripted reality at this point. It’s all about getting money.

If they are keeping the chase keep it to 10 races as originally intended, add a road course, and reward the winners with a greater margin. No resetting in the last 10 races.

This above will never happen and I will continue to only watch the races I want and not care about this playoff format.

kevin

Bowyer did a barrel roll at Daytona in Feb. He did flip

midasmicah

Brad K won 6 races. Newman won a big ZERO. Re-setting the points after each “heat” race is a fu*king joke. I hope Newman wins the whole thing. nascar isn’t content with shooting themselves in the foot. Now it’s a head sgot.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com

Frontstretch