Enterprise: Race in and get the same deals drivers and teams use
NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Kickin’ the Tires: Drivers Don’t Have to Win to Make the Championship

It’s sad, but before I even write the words for this week’s column I can already hear the screaming, gnashing of teeth and insults that will follow by the naysayers and contrarians who think they are smarter than the people running the sport.

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Team and driver Martin Truex Jr., who’s having a dominant season – save a win – in 2015. In the first 13 races, Truex has had only one finish outside the top 10. He’s run up front, led in over half of the races he’s entered and, in some cases, led the most laps.

Last year, Ryan Newman made it all the way to the final round of the Chase for the Championship without ever getting a win. That circumstance angered a lot of fans who claimed the system rewards losers. Maybe the system does, if you subscribe to the theory that second-place is the first loser. Unlike Truex, Newman had only four top-10 finishes at this point in the 2014 season and none of those were second-place runs but he played by the same rules as all 42 other drivers and he qualified for the Chase.

We all know the story, so that’s where it ends for Newman’s 2014 endeavor – he was second.

Looking at 2015, many people thought it was a fluke when Truex started off the season on such a good run. An eighth at Daytona, a sixth at Atlanta and a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. He was off to a great start and it had people scratching their head.

Truex’s run at Dover, where for the second week in a row he led the most laps but didn’t win, is further proof that Furniture Row Racing is the single-car team that can. With 13 races left before the cutoff to make the Chase, Truex will probably secure a win but if he doesn’t he, like Newman was last year, is the prime reason why the rules were made to reward consistency and not just race winners.

Any team that runs as well as Truex has this season deserves a shot at the title if they finish in the required points positions. Why? Because under the current rules, the championship can be achieved by two separate routes – winning or consistency.

Sure, it would be great to have the champion be the guy with the most wins sitting on the stage in Las Vegas but even before the Chase was created that wasn’t always the case. And while the odds are against another showdown between the team with the most wins during the season facing off in the final laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway against the team with no wins at all; it could happen.

As it stands, the only driver with more points than Truex is Kevin Harvick. But Harvick doesn’t have the most wins. That claim to fame belongs to Jimmie Johnson, who extended his season total to four, with the win at Dover.

When the Chase was created with the elimination format it was done to bring NASCAR on-par with other major professional sports. All of the Big 4 sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA) in the U.S. have a playoff system. NASCAR’s elimination format is a good system based on the fact so many teams compete in the same competition each week. Is it perfect, again, nothing ever is but any team that makes it to the final round has met the criteria to become a champion. If that happens to be Truex or some other driver making the final cut, the only thing that matters is the rules were the same for everyone even if the routes taken were different.

Share this article

30 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
kb

Very antagonistic aren’t you? Yes Martin is doing good now, as well as Jimmie, but that is all for nothing once race 27 rolls around. Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin had NO BUSINESS being in the final 4. Common sense will tell you many, many other drivers had better stats than they did, regarding wins, laps led, top 5’s and 10’s. They were non factors all year. So Martin is running up front, yeah..and what is the point exactly..considering the insane layout of this system? Methinks you just want to lash out at fans with common sense and call this incantation of rewarding a season long Champ in one race, for what it is…bull! Keep trying to sell it however..whatever makes you happy. You must be Kenny Wallace’s cousin..had to mute the prerace show today. He was drinking the BZF juice big time, a sobriety field test seemed to have been in order.

Shawn Bristle

Like all sports there is the entertainment factor that has to be addressed. This new set up (which is now over a year old and some still complain) has made the racing much more interesting. Sure they could go back to the old way but is that what the majority of fans want? I would say no it only makes for points racing and that is boring! I can only speak for myself but I like to see drivers that want to win the race and not just get a good finish so they can gain a few points. Passion that may erupt off track because of the need and desire to win is where this sport will gain and retain the fans. The sport needs the fans to stay interested, buy the tickets, and support their drivers. The old way of doing business will only be the end of the sport. Nothing is perfect but the goal should be to get more fans and create rules that make for better racing. In the end the fans are what pay the bills!

kb

As they say, everybody has an opinion and I completely disagree with yours, you sound like a newbie, and maybe Jerry Jordon in disguise. Yes us people who “complain”, are the only ones, nobody else does..SMH. I don’t know if you know this but you are in the minority actually. I cull the internet for these types of vibes from “fans” and you are definitely in the minority. Do yourself a favor, even the drivers think the racing is a drag, decent article posted today on Yahoo Nascar…a new type of group has been formed by the drivers to discuss the ills of the racing, and safety of the tracks. They had their first official meeting yesterday. Obviously the drivers feel the way ALOT of fans do, then I say there is definite truth to the “complaint”. And as for passion the driver hissy fits post race, is not what a true race fan wants to see, NASCAR however loves that stupid drama for their highlight reels. Passion was there before this “Chase” nonsense, Youtube is your friend. And no, the fans are not paying the bills, look at the empty seats. BZF and his empires revenue comes from TV rights, he doesn’t give a rat’s butt about the fans that go to the track.

kb

What anonymity? My initials are my initials, you have my email address you can correspond anytime you want, I have several more informed and kinder “columnists” corresponding with me, often. The attack on YOU? Typical child, how about how you address your readers for starters? Motorsports is a wonder, that what we here enjoy. NASCAR and it’s sanctioning body is doing all it can to destroy it. I do not believe if you call yourself a true fan, you find this form of “motorsports” anything special or enjoyable, compared to what it was..and no nobody is saying it should be perfect or that it ever was perfect.

Yup, the new line of “journalism”, to demonize those that don’t agree with you. Apparently Jerry, I am not alone in my thoughts about you. Never really had a problem with anybody contributing to this site but you seem immature and clearly don’t get it. It is disturbing that you make the articles about yourself as if your bandwagon jumping that a very few are enthused about somehow supersedes decades of a healthy and robust sport and revenue generator for just about all involved. I am surprised you are even associated with the people at The Frontstretch. The don’t make the subject matter of this once great sport about themselves or demonize their readers.

Jerry Jordon, what exactly besides your narcissistic viewpoint is that you are offended greatly when people of sanity don’t share your viewpont? Call me Kb or Gb, doesn’t matter..the message is the same as is yours..again what is your point? You can contact me directly via my email anytime you want. That is a fact and I check it often. So don’t give me this anonymity bull, I am anonymous to you and anybody else unless we shared a phone conversation or a direct introduction via a handshake. Pffft.

JohnQ

My comment was not vitriolic at all. If you truly want to change people’s minds you have to interact with them. To do that you need to know who those people are. Right now your audience isn’t listening to you partly because you are not listening to them. You insult your readers who in turn dismiss you as a fool. Begging the question, what is the point of writing your columns at all other than to digitally talk to yourself?

Chris

There is the problem Shawn; you shouldn’t need to tweak or create rules to make the “product” better. The problem is the aero-dependent/IROC/few-engine suppliers/same bodies race cars running on a bunch of 1.5 mile tracks (although at this point all the tracks produce the same aero- race which is won on pit strategies. Furthermore using your theory has the MLB or the NFL over the years made major overhauls to their sport in the name of “expanding its fan base”? Especially with the Chase format that they have in place now which is more a lottery than a championship.

kb

Given the reply from the infant terrible Jerry, I think I am right..he is Shawn who’s skin is bristled reading our on spot comments.

kb

…and you playoff lovers seem to think that motorsports play by the same rules. HOW ABOUT THIS ONE..FOR STARTERS…The “team” eliminated is NOT in the “playoffs” anymore. No other sport has so many variables that can make or break you, that has nothing to do with your talent or hard earned status. Geez…that’s one for starters. Is Jerry a not discussed son of BZF?

kb

…and by “meeting the criteria” it could mean that BZF decided at the lap 25 competition caution (which is there or not, depending on who gets the pole) has a musical chairs event on the infield and that could decide the winner. Why not? It is as arbitrary as a 4 race shootout with 39 other guys on the track. A winner basically on this insane format is who BZF says it is, it has nothing to do with the skills and rewards or lack of the other 35 races. Talk about insanity.

kb

…I’m done I think…:)…it’s cause I still care!!!!!!!!! Why, your guess is as good as mine.

Just Talking

I do not think you can lump Truex – so far anyway – with Newman and Hamlin last year. They had no business being anywhere near the championship. I remember the announcers talking about how Newman and Hamlin had come on at the end. What races were they watching? Nascar is very lucky Harvick won. Either Newman or Hamlin would have been a farce, even by Nascar standards and that is saying something.

Truex is running up front almost every week, and has been dominant in a couple of races. I would not be thrilled to see a non-race winner win the championship, but could live with it if I could see that the driver is up front every week. Truex’ problem may be with his crew chief’s strategy or just bad luck – I don’t know.

For me – it is nice to see someone else up front rather than the usual names – Johnson, Harvick. Truex better watch out though – being close may be allowed, but winning – some folks may not like that.

DoninAjax

Is it too early to start hoping Truex does Newman one better and wins the title without a win? Brian has stated it wouldn’t bother him, so I guess he’s going to end the chase.

The Dover “race” wasn’t listed in the TV sports lineup in the Toronto Star Sunday. The Indy race was.

Dennis

“under the current rules, the championship can be achieved by two separate routes – winning or consistency.”
It can also be achieved my circumstances. You don’t have to win or be consistent. All you have to do is survive from one round to the next. Jeff Gordon would have moved onto the next round easily until Kez took him out.

With this silly system all you have to do is survive till the last race. Then, just finish ahead of 3 others. That’s it.

Most motorsports declare a Champion after the points earned during each race are tallied at the end of the season. That makes sense. It rewards the team that had the best overall performance for the year. As it should. What we are given instead is something more like a cross between a Lottery and WWE. And you wonder why the real race fans complain?

spot1

Conceivably, Jimmie Johnson could win every race from here on out until Miami and not be the season champ because he gets outrun by one car (out of four) alive for the final shootout. And, you, Jerry, think this is the right way to determine a champ???? Are you paid by NA$CAR for the crap written here? And, like one here already said, you are an antagonistic peckerhead, aren’t you?

JohnQ

Jerry, How you chose to relate to your audience is your business. Understanding them better will make that choice easier. So here is a non NASCAR example of who many of us are. When I was a kid in Philly the Phillies baseball players were mostly WW II veterans just like my dad. They also made about what my dad made in salary. You could ride to the game on the local train and sit next to one and he would actually talk to one. One of my 11 year old friends found one of the pitchers in the phone book and called him to ask how the team would be that year. The guy (Dallas Green) talked to him for half an hour. Dad could relate to them and because they were like dad, so could I. Now baseball players are spoiled childish gazillionaires that I just can’t relate to anymore. See the point? NASCAR used to be guys like dad in a car sort of like the one dad drove to the track. Most didn’t make a fortune. Now we watch petulant zillionaires that never served anyone but themselves drive around in whatever you want to call the current vehicle. Many of us just can’t relate anymore. We really believe it was better in the good old days.

DoninAjax

This was in the newspaper a few days ago. A Pittsburgh Pirate leaked his pay stub. His gross pay was $820,659.88. His net pay was $427,098.49. He gets two per month for six months. I wonder how close Jimmie`s income is to Giselle`s.

MBH

JohnQ –far & away the best explanation of the frustration that gray haired fans like me have endured. Save Martinsville, I haven’t watched a race Green-to-Checkers this year.

Chris

John, you don’t even have to go back that far with NASCAR. Think back to the mid-to-late 90’s when you could call Dave Marcis’s shop and he’d answer the phone. Heck, he only had about six full time employees. Dick Trickle was walking through the infield having a beer or two with fans. NASCAR, even at that point was still somewhat accessible and relatable to the average guy in the street. The cars were starting to change at the point from what we would see on the street but the culture of NASCAR was still very engrained as a blue collar sport. NASCAR leveraged that following against trying to cater to a totally different demographic which I personally believe hasn’t worked out well for NASCAR but others, such as the writer of this article seem to think things are working out just fine.

As far as the racing goes anyone that has ever built or raced a car on a track can see that the issues that plague the cars that are circling the track now. I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that Jerry hasn’t ever been in that position before.

MPM

Really? Again? (Shakes head in sad disgust and reaches for coffee mug. And here’s the weird part, I don’t even drink coffee anymore.) Jer, Jer, Jer, the mission of the FS staff (prior to your arrival) was to inform and entertain readers, not insult and enrage them. Folks here don’t necessarily think they’re smarter than the people running the sport (into the ground) they just know they’re smarter than you. You’ve given them ample evidence that’s the case.

I’m going to have to sit this one out. As you were peeps.

Carl D.

I have no problem with Truex winning the championship even if he doesn’t win a race.

However…

“When the Chase was created with the elimination format it was done to bring NASCAR on-par with other major professional sports. All of the Big 4 sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA) in the U.S. have a playoff system.”

I contend that there was no need to bring Nascar “on par” with any other sport since at the time it was doing just fine without any kind of playoff. Still, whether or not the chase is good for the sport will ultimately be decided by the fans through track attendance and/or television viewership, and not by a quarrelsome columnist.

Steve

Typical Jerry Jordan column. Antagonize the fan base in the first paragraph, then trip all over himself the rest of the article telling us how awesome Nascar’s current product is and how dumb we are not to love it as much as him.

Does this guy really believes what he’s writing or was he hired by Frontstretch just to stir the pot. I would pay admission to see Matt and him have a debate about all things Nascar.

kb

Bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill B

The people that read these columns might think they are smarter than NASCAR but there is no doubt they are smarter than you. In the end the rules have increased the factor luck plays in both determining the race winners and the championship while lowering the factor that being good week in and week out plays.

As it is, I think I will skip reading your worthless propaganda based articles and just go right to the comments where my sole purpose will be to attack you personally.

Jackass.

J. Smith

Jerry I vote for you to take BZFs position. When I see your columns with it’s 20+ comments I know there will be drama and you are a must read. I love my drama and watching the Chase last year we all saw a definite uptick in drama. Since NASCAR sold out it’s integrity and redefined the word “Champion” just as you redefine “smart”, I haven’t put much weight on who wins the title. The problem is that the increase in drama in the Chase races didn’t carry over to the rest of the season. I want wrecks and fights all season and that’s what you bring to this site. Thanks for another great article.

Bill B

There is so much broken that I wouldn’t know where to start so I’ll just say, do whatever is feasible to put things back the way they were before Brian France took over and the sport was thriving.

Maybe we can’t go back to Rockingham or North Wilkesboro but there are other short tracks. Replace some 1.5 mile tracks with some less than 1 mile tracks. The aero issues seem to lessen greatly on short tracks.

Put most of the rules that govern the race and championship back to the way they were. I get that we can’t race back to the line when a caution comes out due to safety concerns so I can live with the lucky dog, but that’s it. No wave arounds.

Go back to single file restarts with the lapped cars on the inside.

Get rid of the GWC. Why should that final restart matter more than the other 99% of the race? Why should a guy that had led the last 100 laps and has a 10 second lead have the 2nd place car right next to him? No debris cautions that aren’t legitimate just to keep X number of cars on the lead lap.

Let the crew chiefs have more choices with respect to what they can change or do to the cars (within reason).

In general, instead of building the sport and rules around what creates game 7 moments, build the sport around what rewards the best drivers in both the individual races and the championship. It’s more important to me that the guy who deserves the win/championship is rewarded than to try to manufacture compelling entertainment that attracts the WWE/reality television crowd. Don’t get me wrong, we all like game 7 moments but many of us draw the line at the point at which you have to artificially set the dominoes up to make that happen.

kb

Why? Didn’t know we had to prove anything to you…if you paid attention to your fellow contributors columns, the very people you insult, over the years have come up with some enlightening ideas and obvious solutions to get the racing better and the fans back. Stop trying to re invent the wheel. Every one of us “regulars” have come up with ideas, believe it or not ALL of us care (or used to care a lot more) about the sport we love, we want it better, and yet the common occurance these days from the likes of people like you is to demonize and insult. There are some smart readers on here, pay attention.

Chris

Jerry, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed to fix what was once known as a sport but is now referred to as a “product” by NASCAR but I will focus on the one that I think needs immediate attention which is the race car. If NASCAR wants to increase its fan base then the cars really need to be loosened up. Currently the splitter on the front of the car and the high spoiler in the rear are creating such tremendous down force, (like a F1 or Indy car) that the cars are basically behaving like slot cars but unlike an F1 or Indy car the boxy shape and weight don’t allow for passing which is why we are seeing a lot of follow the leader action. Furthermore Goodyear/NASCAR needs to start bring tires that aren’t rock hard so that the phrase “tire management” becomes part of the equation again. One has to admit to the absurdity of having to pit for fuel before needing tires but this is what we are seeing. This last race at Dover pretty much shows the issues that plagues the current race car package. Finally give the teams more leeway as to what they can do with their cars as far as gear ratios, shocks and suspension go. Right now with the current package its almost like watching the old IROC series with identical car running identical engines with identical suspension…and so on. Let’s start with that Jerry and then will move on to other areas that could use a little help.

RH

1. Break up the multicar teams & alliances between teams and make it 1 car per owner. Team mates do not race each other hard.
2. Put more emphasis on individual races by increasing the purses and de-emphasizing the championship. The championship is a neat thing to think about after the race but “big picture racing” is boring to watch.
3. Eliminate most of the 1.5 mile tracks & add short tracks. If NASCAR wants to race in LA or Chicago instead of North Wilkesboro – fine, but build a short track in those markets.
4. More panoramic TV shots. Tight shots of 1 car is boring. You can’t see if a car is loose or get a sense of the speed. How exciting would watching a basketball game be if you could only see the person with the ball?
5. Give crews more leeway when setting up cars – gearing, etc. It used to be exciting to see a car set up for a short run being caught by a car set up for a long run. Do we see that anymore?
6. No Cup car owners, associated teams, or pit crews in the lower tiers. Dale Earnhardt raced in the Busch series but he didn’t take RCR cars with him.

Frontstretch