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

Beside the Rising Tide: Ending With a Whimper, Not a Bang

Say what you will about the 2015 Cup season, and a lot of you have had some very unkind things to say about it this year, but inarguably, it’s over. Sunday’s season finale probably won’t make many fans lists of “greatest races” ever, but at least it signaled the end of another season, a year in stock car racing that started out slowly and then petered out all together at times.

Welcome to NASCAR Gen 3. Owing to a fundamental disconnect between what the powers that be think the fans want and what those fans actually want, a once-proud sport that muscled its way to the head table with the stick and ball sports has gone into freefall, sliding from the much-heralded every race on network TV back to cable and then onto third-tier cable with ratings plummeting like Wile E. Coyote’s latest Acme rocket-skates experiment gone horribly wrong.

In an attempt to spice up the proceedings a bit, NASCAR has tossed the rulebook aside and quietly added an all-but-mandatory “debris caution” at the end of Cup races to liven things up a bit. Sunday, I could only shake my head and guess given that the race’s time slot had been extended to 8 p.m., the dwindling amount of laps left to be run, and the fact a pair of non-Chasers were running up front, that one of those debris cautions would fly with ten laps left to go. That was terribly cynical of me. The flag for debris actually waved with nine laps left to run. I have no idea what the debris was, but it sure did look like a soda straw and whatever it was it was launched into the ionosphere by the first passing car. It clearly posed no threat. It’s just a fact of life. In any corner of any race track during any event you can find debris if you look hard enough and it suits your purposes. Thus all debris cautions are legitimate. Usually completely unnecessary, but legitimate.

What I find irksome is right before that caution flew, there was actually some semblance of a race breaking out. Fans had endured yet another rain delay (any more questions as to why driver intros aren’t normally broadcast… they are painfully tedious to watch) and a processional excuse at a race but finally there was some legitimate drama. Kyle Larson, pretty in pink plaid, was driving the wheels off his car trying to run down race leader Brad Keselowski, brushing and banging against the wall on occasion as Larson threw caution to the wind… before NASCAR threw a caution for a soda wrapper that is. There’s no telling if Larson would have run down Keselowski or, if he did, if he’d been able to pass the No. 2 car. But it was a faceoff between a young driver who has endured a substandard season and was looking for his first Cup victory against a more seasoned former champion who has lost several shots at wins lately and has endured a season that by his own lofty standards has to be considered substandard too. Add in the fact that neither driver was in points contention so they didn’t “have to do what they had to do” and it likely would have been an interesting and physical nine laps of racing. But having a non-Chaser win the season finale and the new champion finishing third or fourth would have called into severe question the legitimacy of this whole Chase elimination farce of Brian France’s, a Rube Goldberg excuse of a points system that has taken stock car racing from a legitimate sport to a reality show equal to Survivor with fast cars. Yeah, OK, I didn’t have a case of Chase Fever on Sunday, but it seems an inoculation of common sense prevents that dreaded brain disease.

Why Keselowski chose the inside line for the final restart is beyond me. He’s got a long offseason ahead to consider the wisdom of that move. Could it be that Keselowski just decided the deck was stacked against him? If he beat Kyle Busch to the first corner, NASCAR would issue a penalty for going before the restart zone, and if Busch jumped the start to get to the first corner with the lead NASCAR would swallow their whistle. Who knows? The eventual outcome was Busch and Kevin Harvick running one-two with the big prize seven laps away. You could almost hear NASCAR officials crowing “Didn’t we tell you this was what was going to happen?” Yep, and they saw to it that it did, too. There was in fact some hard racing in those final seven laps. Jeff Gordon made a Quixotic charge from 10th to sixth, perhaps hoping that another caution would give him one last chance. But the cameras were focused on Busch and Harvick as Busch waived a jaunty little goodbye and drove off into the distance. Yep, that was the big payoff for those fans who did stick out the season, Busch, 2015 Cup champion by 1.6 seconds over reigning titlist Harvick. Didn’t you read the headlines this morning? Oops, sorry, there were no headlines about the race, not even on the sports pages. Those pesky folks at the NFL wouldn’t even sit out Ford Championship Weekend to allow NASCAR to grab the spotlight. The audacity of those people!

No reasonable person is going to argue that Busch is an extremely talented wheelman capable of winning just about any Sunday on any track anywhere. Only his family members and members of his fan club (who all showed up in a Pontiac Fiero for the race) will argue that when things don’t go his way Busch is often a reprehensible prick whose childish tantrums have long since worn thin not only with many fans but with his former car owners. In any sport, if you play by the rules and prevail, victory is yours. But one has to question whether Busch was entitled to be championship eligible this year after missing the first 11 races. Yes, Busch broke his leg and foot in a savage wreck during the NXS season opener at Daytona after hard contact with a concrete wall unprotected by a SAFER barrier. NASCAR felt awful about that. After all Daytona is owned by International Speedway Corporation, which is run by the France family, much like NASCAR.

I hate to see any driver get hurt. I legitimately do. But perhaps the chance of getting injured running a Saturday race and having it effect their day job is what keeps some Cup regulars on the sidelines for the NXS and truck races rather than cherry-picking in the lower divisions. As I see it it’s like someone winning a triathlon only he didn’t have to do the swimming portion of the course because he had an ear infection. Yes, Busch had to make his way into the top 30 in points to be eligible. Are there really 30 teams good enough to make that cut? More importantly he had to win a race, and Busch managed to win four of them in a five-race period. I’d be willing to debate that based on that alone, he should have been Chase-eligible, but I think that NASCAR has opened a can of worms here they’ll regret down the road. Either way, Busch is the Cup champion. My guess is he’ll do a far better job defending that title on the track than he will as serving as an ambassador for the sport off the track. But that’s only fair. He signed up to drive racecars, not serve as an ambassador.

The race, as you might have heard mentioned somewhere, was the final Cup event for four-time champion Jeff Gordon. Yes, it would have been pure Hollywood if he’d managed to win the title in his final race, but the odds were pretty much stacked against that happening. Face it, Gordon won only one race this year, one of just five top-five finishes Gordon earned. That’s the lowest amount of top fives in his entire Cup career. For comparison’s sake, Gordon scored 26 top fives in 33 races back in 1998, one of the dizzying set of record stats he’s managed over the last 23 years. While Gordon’s inclusion in the Final Four made for good copy, it also calls the sanity of Brian France’s elimination system into serious question. Joey Logano had six victories, one more than Gordon’s top-five total, and Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson had five wins, but none of them made the cut. They tell me something similar could happen in football. Which is why I don’t watch football.

Over the years Gordon has developed a massive fanbase and it will be interesting to see how many of them stop following the sport now that he won’t be competing any longer. Several posters here have already said once Gordon is gone they are too. (For those of you in that number, so long and thanks for the fishes. I’ve enjoyed corresponding with you and appreciate your support over the years. And I absolutely promise no one will taunt you if you still decide to watch an occasional NASCAR race on a rainy chilly afternoon and comment on it afterwards. That’s not how I roll. We’re all bros here at Frontstretch. Well bros and sisters of course.)

Of course, Logano and Kenseth had something to do with one another not making the Final Four. Yep, two or three years from now when asked if they recall any particular instant from the 2015 Cup season, the one most people will recall is Kenseth pile driving Logano into the wall at Martinsville. Yes, there was mixed opinion about what Kenseth did, whether it was just flat out despicable or “quintessential” NASCAR racing, but at least the dustup got people talking about a NASCAR race on some other topic other than “how bad did yesterday’s race suck? NASCAR birthed kittens because the wreck was one of those all too rare un-scripted moments of excitement this season. The poor flagman seemed confused. He was forced to throw a caution and it wasn’t 10 laps to go! NASCAR dropped the hammer on Kenseth, but I think the move might have backfired. Going by drive intros at Homestead Kenseth was loudly cheered as a driver who had been wronged while Logano’s reception was a bit chillier. If you want to embrace victimhood, you’re better off on a college campus than in the garage area.

What else can we take away from the 2015 season? Well Michigan and Indy were just awful, all but unwatchable. Those races featured an experimental aero package which presumably was taken behind the woodshed and humanely euthanized with a single large caliber shot. Kentucky (once they got things going) and Darlington were far better. Those races featured an alternative aero package with lower downforce, one that presumably will be in place for most races next year. That package was loudly applauded by fans and drivers alike. Why they didn’t adopt that package for the Chase to spice things up legitimately? I can’t tell you. I think NASCAR said that it wouldn’t have been fair. So when in the last couple decades has NASCAR been fair?

The scariest wreck of the season was Austin Dillon’s hitting the catchfence hard on the final lap at Daytona in July. (For those who’d been able to remain awake after yet another lengthy rain delay, as opposed to Phoenix, when NASCAR saw to it fans got to bed at a reasonable time.) That wreck could easily have been tragic not just for Dillon, but for fans seated in the affected area trying to dry out their shoes. The second scariest wreck was Busch’s crash in the NXS race at Daytona. Campers, what did those two wrecks have in common? If you guessed “they both happened at plate tracks” you get a free bag of Cheezy-Poofs. So what does NASCAR plan to do to make the drivers and fans safer at the plate tracks? Well… um…. they’ll limit GWC attempts to one… or at least one attempt and one “kind of sort of but not really cause we say so” restart. See Brian France is on record as really, really liking pack racing, an opinion he’ll probably hold until they bolt a passenger seat into a racecar at Talladega or Daytona and have him ride along.

The race that epitomized 2015 for me was the fall Dover race. Harvick “had to win” to continue in the playoffs and he won. In fact, he led 355 of 400 laps, occasionally by margins over 10 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Afterwards NASCAR and the TV types were ecstatic. That was a Game 7 moment. See, Harvick had to win and he did! Wasn’t that exciting! Actually it was stultifyingly boring. I have that one saved on my DVR for this winter in case a bout of insomnia interrupts my long winter nap. Yet, another glaring example of that fundamental disconnect between sizzle and steak. Afterwards Harvick backed his car into the wall doing doughnuts. Kind of hard to measure the car after that happened to ensure it was legal. As it stands written in the Book of the Dead, “You can’t close the door when the wall’s caved in.” Yep, between that move and what he did at Talladega on the “this time we really mean it” last restart if NASCAR continues turning the sport into The Whacky Racers, Harvick, not Kenseth, will get the nod as Dick Dastardly.

So, yep it’s finally over. The 2015 Cup season adds fuel to the fire that the Cup schedule is WAY too long and needs to be trimmed back to a more manageable size. What does 2016 hold for those who choose to continue following the sport? I’m genuinely curious to see how the new low-aero package effects the races. I’m sure there will be some debacles as drivers and teams (and Goodyear) get used to the new package, but my gut tells me the ratio of classics to clinkers will be much better next year. It would be hard to imagine it could get any worse. As Gordon’s fans celebrated his final season on the circuit, so perhaps Tony Stewart’s fans will want to follow their boy’s final circuit of the merry-go-round next year. Of course some casual fans I’ve talked to were surprised to hear Stewart is retiring at the end of 2016. They thought he’d left a couple years ago. Stewart had no wins, no top fives and just three top 10s in 2015. He led a whopping 24 laps. His last win occurred at Dover in June of 2013. Stewart apparently thinks his crew chief is to blame. Yep, that’s got to be it.

Off the track, it will be interesting to see how things play out with this new owners’ organization. NASCAR has historically shown little tolerance for the peons storming Bastille Daytona. (Am I the only one that thinks the owners’ council should have decided on what penalty Kenseth had earned for wrecking Logano?) Higher up the food chain there’s that fledgling team owners association as well, and talks about franchising, though lately it’s been called “medallions.” And of course NASCAR has to come up with a new title sponsor for the Cup series. Sprint is leaving. In fact I’m told they’d have liked to leave this year but no suitable replacement could be found. With ticket sales and TV ratings down substantially overall this year, it’s going to be a tough sell. The current tracks on the schedule are locked in for five years, and the owners want those medallions. Sure sounds to me like they’re circling the wagons and getting ready to endure some tough challenges ahead at least short term.

Think what you might of the current state of stock car racing and the 2015 season. At least it’s over and that’s one more reason to offer thanks at the table Thursday evening. There’s only so much “quintessential” NASCAR some of us can take.

Yeah, it’s over before you know it,

It all goes by so fast,

Yeah, the bad nights last forever,

And the good nights don’t ever seem to last,

But wherever you are tonight,

I wish you the best of everything in the world,

And buddies, I hope you find,

Whatever you were looking for…….

-Tom Petty- (30 long years ago)

Share this article

38 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
kb

I have never been a fan of “The Chase” or care a wit about fans “flavor of the moment” as those “winds” always seem to blow as to whether it is a manufacturer or how old or young a driver is or whether he said please may I or his haircut was amiss. The all important “respect” issue that fans and some drivers seem to covet is definitely a one sided proposition and the fans suck it up. Which to me most of the time is total BS.

I do not doubt that Kyle Busch has talent, to deny, is foolish. Does he deserve to be a “Champ” via one race and points resets after missing 11 races…regardless of the reason. Hell no. Sadly some are saying…”well hell he deserves it after all these years and he crashed this year”! So and why? Knowing this folly is a folly and lumping his other years good and bad justifies this BS of crowning a “season long champ”, which Kyle Busch certainly this season is not! The “feel good story some see, does not validate a Champ…”He got hurt and it is Nascars fault”..blah, blah blah! Reward a season long champ! Call me old fashioned or stubborn, what I view as a season long Champ is void of Brian Frances politics and quest for the $$$$$ stream is killing the sport, along with Brian’s sickness of making a “feel good” story be a “really feel good story”. I see manipulation of epic proportions. He cannot help himself. The good thing I noticed looking around, many people’s eyes have opened to the folly of this system more so than last year, they are pissed and say the are not coming back. Not that Nascar will notice. For the past two years have watched the racing (boring or not) because it was whoever got what it counted and if Nascar screwed up, go get em’ next week. . After the final Richmond race me and mine get a pit in our stomach, as we know all that hard work is thrown away and it was like society today, everybody is equal and gets a trophy, they are not, but that is now how many people see life. Rewards for what? Yet the narrative is he is “the best” is a “racing god”, his “maturity” got him to this point. All the funny stuff that Nascar writing pool is saying, it doesn’t make it true.

I respect the winner a lot more, with undisputable numbers of wins, tops 5, top 10’s. I am confident there is someone out there that can offer their services to come up with a fair balance for all those important qualities that most of define as a true season long “Champion”. Why is this so hard to see? A fan investment looks for the highs and lows, fair call for a season long deal. If someone wraps it up a few races before, good for them they deserve it.

janice

dang kb, i agree with you!

Kevin

I have actually been working on such a system (I love math and numbers), trying to find a balance between having a season-long championship but still having excitement at the end of the year. (And rewarding winning more, as well.) The idea I have most recently developed has the following point structure:

1st-5th: 100 80 65 50 40
6th-10th: 30 25 20 15 10
11th-15th: 9 8 7 6 5
16th-20th: 4 points for each
21st-25th: 3 points for each
26th-30th: 2 points for each
31st-43rd: 1 point for each

But, drivers would then receive double points for races 27-30, triple points for races 31-33, quadruple points for races 34-35, and quintuple points for the final race. Testing this system out over the last 6 seasons, there are always 2-4 drivers still eligible for the championship in the final race. While still not a perfect system for the purist, I think something like this is a good balance for both sides of the fence. It places more weight on races towards the end of the season, but doesn’t completely negate the first 35 races either. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect NASCAR to ever adopt a system like this, because I think they’re thrilled with how things are now.

Bill B

Kevin.
I like it better than what we have now. If you got rid of the bonus multipliers in the last 10 races, I’d like it better than the old system. Why should races at the end of the year matter more than races at the beginning of the year just to manufacture some wacky game show ending. Reminds me of Family Feud. They have it set up so only the last round matters (they spoofed this on Family Guy in one episode… “And now the final round, making what happened in the previous three rounds meaningless”. LOL)
This idea that the championship needs to be decided in the final race is misdirected. It’s nice when that happens but to force it to happen doesn’t fit the sport.

Kevin

And I fully agree with you…I just don’t expect NASCAR to ever go back in that direction again. So my goal has been to try to come up with something that they might actually go for (though in reality, I really wouldn’t expect them to) while still being better than the current system.

Phil H

most local short tracks do have races in their seasons that have double points events. Have one for 1/2 mile , 1 for road course, 1 for plate race,1 for cookie cutter!

haha….now I’m thinking like BZF! sorry guys!

russ

The 2015 season is certainly officially over. Yet for me, I think its been over for quite some time. Not sure when it ended, just one weekend it didn’t seem to be interesting enough to bother. And I don’t think it was the Chase that caused it either. Rather, just the never ending sameness of it. Nothing but my eyes seeing the same thing over and over, yet my ears filled with “blah, blah, everything is great”.
Perhaps over the winter things will change. But perhaps not.

GinaV24

russ, the “never ending sameness” boy that is a great description of what NASCAR has become.

russ

Gina, thanks. Didn’t know how else to describe it. To me its not the chase, although I get tired of hearing about it. But it kinda like tapioca, all kinda flavorless and just the same.

GinaV24

yes I wonder if I would feel differently about the chase if they didn’t hammer on it all the time, but I doubt it.

And I agree that having so many races be a high speed parade was, indeed, flavorless and bland.

J.Smith

Busch finally fits the definition of Champion. Not the true definition (it’s a distant ship smoke on the horizon), not the second ten race definition but BZF’s third one race definition. Keep changing it and Junior will undoubtedly fit some definition. I hate the show is over, hell it just really started ten races ago.

Bill B

LOL. So true.

Bill B

Good article Matt. Not much else to say. You summed up the season and the current state of NASCAR. Since Brian took over the sport has become more and more like a reality television show. That’s not what I signed up for. How appropriate that the announcer from the WWE introduced the drivers. I’m so tired of all of it. Have a great Thanksgiving.

janice

matt, the baltimore ravens won the 2000 super bowl going into the playoffs as a wild card team, they weren’t the best but got lucky.

i know in the past some wild card baseball teams have won their respective divisions to go to the world series.

so i guess this is how brain fart figures his chase can produce winner regardless of the number of wins or top 5’s or top 10’s.

maybe next year the chase will be changed so princess sparkle pony has a chance to make the big show to go after that demographic.

Bill B

Janice,
I think you are off on your appraisal of the 2000/2001 Ravens. Whenever a discussion of “greatest defenses ever” comes up, that team is always in the discussion. From Wikipedia:

“The Ravens defense in 2000 is often named among the greatest NFL defenses of all time. A 2007 ESPN Page 2 list ranked the 2000 Ravens defense at #3 in NFL history.[1] Baltimore gave up only 970 rushing yards (60.6 per game) all year, an NFL record for a 16-game season,[2] and 186 fewer yards than the next lowest team, Baltimore’s Super Bowl XXXV opponent, the New York Giants. Baltimore gave up only five rushing touchdowns all season, and allowed a paltry 2.7 yards per rush, both league bests. Baltimore only allowed 165 points all season, also an NFL record for a 16-game season. Furthermore, the Ravens recovered an astronomical 26 fumbles during the season, double the total the second-ranked team.[3]”

Then in the playoffs they held the Broncos to 3 points, Tennessee to 10 points, the Raiders to 7 points and the Giants (superbowl) to 7 points.

Now the offense was definitely not championship caliber that year. But, once again, trying to use football when discussing NASCAR is kind of futile. BTW, if you haven’t guessed by now I am from Baltimore.

janice

bill b – i’m from baltimore as well. grew up there, moved south 20 yrs ago. i love the o’s.

i was just using 2001 ravens as exampled as to wildcard can win.

poor raven’s have suffered since lewis retired. he did fire those guys up. now with flacco hurt….

happy turkey day. have some steamed crabs! yummy!

Bill B

Didn’t know you had B-more ties. Nice to know.

Love him or hate him Ray Lewis was a force to be reckoned with on the field.

Yeah, the injuries are mounting. I hope we lose the rest of the games this year and get a good draft pick. We were due for a bad season.

You have a great Thanksgiving too. Unfortunately the steamed crab train has left the station for this year. I got my last dozen on Oct 23rd.

DoninAjax

I can see Vince McMahon as the Grand Marshall of the Daytona 500, the first race to Brian’s next iteration of the chase. The opening segment of the first practice will be “Who will make the chase?” I wonder how many will still be around to watch.

Phil H

you know they did have the announcer from UFC introduce the drivers! LOL!!

GinaV24

good summary of the 2015 season, Matt. Yeah I’m one of those Gordon fans who plans to become a casual fan now that he has retired. Will I still watch some races? Probably, especially during the cold winter months when the NFL has gone away as an option and I’m relaxing on the couch drinking hot cocoa with a dollop of whatever in it for fun and of course how could I not come and comment with all of you? I’d miss most of the commenters here more than I will NASCAR.

The best thing about Gordon’s retirement for me is that I can watch and not care about whatever foolishness NASCAR dreams up for next season or not watch AND not care. After all maybe next year the drivers will have to wrestle bears and jump thru flaming hoops in order to qualify for the “championship”. That makes as much sense as anything else to determine worthiness to compete for the grand prize.

BTW, I agree with you in particular about the Dover race. We have been going to Dover for many years because it is reasonably close (and my brother is a 48 fan – blasphemy) but the boredom factor at that track in particular, coupled with some of the IMO stupid things the track decided to do as far as security & parking, made us decide that we could do something else with those 2 weekends a year and not miss a thing. I watched part of it on TV as I did other things and after the race, he called and said, boy am I glad we didn’t go.

Carl D.

I hope you didn’t invite your brother to Thanksgiving dinner.

GinaV24

ha, Don, yes, we had turkey day together – we still manage to be friends even though IMO his taste in drivers is suspect!

brokenarrow

Well Matt, classy as always (NOT). Perhaps maturity is somewhere in your future too? Your comment about delivering a rabid dog to Kyle Busch before Sunday’s race is at least a step above the poster on another site who wished Kyle’s plane would crash at the hands of terrorists, but only a small step.

We know you hate the Chase. We know you despise Busch. And we know (to paraphrase Jimmie Johnson) your taste in drivers is questionable. However, the Chase rules allow for a waiver of the rule to start every race. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, and Brian Vickers have all been granted that waiver. It just your dern poor luck that Kyle Busch was the only driver able to execute a perfect comeback and win the championship with nary a sign of impending implosion.

All championship systems for individual sports are flawed. Unless one has a season like Djokivic in tennis this year (and he did NOT play all the tournaments), the crowning of a champion is always open to debate. Yet, only NASCAR fans seem to favor whining and bitching over gracious congratulations. Whatever Jeff Gordon brought to the sport he failed to instill civility in the fans.

Kevin

There’s a little bit of a difference there. All the other drivers you mentioned were granted an exemption for missing 1-3 races. Kyle Busch missed 11.

Upstate24fan

Well considering the big TV rating the finale got, everything is not all “doom and gloom”. Why whenever there is a controversy in NASCAR there is that portion of the fan base that wants to lock the gates to Daytona and put Bristol up for auction. Does the sport have its issues, yes. The business model for owners and getting a new title sponsor are big ones. However, millions of people still watch this sport every week, 50,000+ attend races on a weekly basis (Phoenix and Homestead were sell outs). NASCAR isn’t going anywhere soon, and it’s also not going into a time machine back to the 1980s. Sometimes we need to get out of our “bubble”.

The other sports are dealing with many of the same issues, even the almighty NFL. The Redskins have been quietly removing seats from FedEx Field for years, despite boasting their mythical season ticket waiting list. Every new baseball stadium that gone up in the last few years has a smaller capacity. The sports world has changed a lot since the peak of the NASCAR fad, and I don’t think the dizzying TV and attendance numbers will ever comeback, no matter how good the product is. Their are too many new things competing for our entertainment dollar.

Despite the challenges of this season, I still enjoyed it. I went to 2 races and felt like I got a good show and value for my money (free parking, generous cooler policies, reasonable ticket prices). Despite, Jeff retiring, I look forward to Chase Elliott stepping in and the 2016 rules package. I plan again on attending 2 or 3 races.

Bill B

Should have know you were a CTS fan Matt. You live in the mid-Atlantic and are in that same age group as me. I will put the CTS “Safety in Numbers” album up against any album you want and it can hold it’s own.

Upstate24fan, of course you were happy with the races you went to, you got to see Gordon win at Martinsville (very jealous). I would have traded the last 10 Dover races I attended to be at that race at Martinsville… lucky bastard :).

Don’t worry about the NFL. Their ratings are fine and often are the top rated programs in any given week. As for the bump at Homestead, so what? They’ve traded decent attendance at 30 other races for a sellout in the final race. That is what people mean when they say “de-valuing” regular season races.

janice

i think the homestead race got a tv rating bump cause it was gordon’s last race.

Tim S.

Undoubtedly. Lots of things this year got a bump from being Gordon’s last (whatever it was), as will many for Stewart next season. But of course, the lockstep “better than ever” crowd will point to the pure numbers and claim an upward swing on the merits of the direction of NASCAR as a whole, then just blame technology when the numbers plummet.

Max

Matt, I think I now know what affliction many of us share – I refer to it as a “generational clarity.”
We have had the good fortune to be on this earth for a long time, and we have watched Nascar for 30 or 40 years now (or more) and we have a much larger sample size with which to make comparisons and analysis of the current product vs. what we have seen in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
I see the same thing in the NFL, as what passes today as “pro-football” doesn’t hold a candle to what I saw in the 60’s and 70’s. Those decades were the high point of the game and make no mistake about it, the NFL no longer plays that game and haven’t in many years. But younger folks don’t know what a watered-down product they are seeing because they never saw it in the 60’s and 70’s.
Thus the ‘generational clarity” or lack of it for the younger folks.
Nascar is the same – back then, i never cared who won any mythical championship, it was “who won the most?” and that is and always will be the benchmark of who was good and who was great.
Because in racing, there will be good days and bad days.
But as you know Matt, the racing today is nothing like the racing 30+ years ago and while I could go into the removal of the front valance as the linchpin to solve the current racing woes, it still is a different time, different age and different generation of fans most of whom lack generational clarity.

Max

Shoot yeah, use it Matt and spread the gospel!

Phil H

Matt, believe it or not, I actualy have seen a Chevrolet SS on a car lot. Naturally, just like the other two car makes it resembles nothing to what is on the track.

Oh, and by the way, that car lot was Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet in Newton,North Carolina

Phil H

Max, I agree.

In my opinion, it is far more impressive to me that Richard Petty won 200 races.

When someone who doesn’t follow the sport as much as I do asks me who has won the most championships, which of course the answer is 7. They are far more wow’d when they hear Richard Petty has 200 wins!

Tim Walgren

It is always sad to see some one who used to poses talent hang on too long.
Examples:
Brett Favre
Richard Petty
Peyton Manning
Tony Stewart
and you, Matt!

Carl D.

Nice recap, Matt. I always enjoy your columns.

DoninAjax

The perfect choice to be the next title sponsor is the WWE. Brian could get the drivers to be introduced in a ring. It could be Survivor Series all season long and Brian and Vince could think up plot lines to last the whole season. The possibilities are endless and all of Brian’s ideas would make perfect sense. Too bad Vince is too smart for that. It’s too bad Kyle didn’t win the WWE Cup “championship.” Maybe he did.

Frontstretch