So, as the grand poombah of NASCAR, what would I do? First and foremost, I would “tweak” the Chase… tweak it to the point that it no longer exists. When the new format was first announced, I held off on my judgment until the end of that year.
This Week’s Question: Can the first race in the Chase seal a team’s fate for the next nine races?
The first week of the Chase has passed, and there were some clear cut winners and losers. On the winning side was Kevin Harvick, scoring his second straight victory in Nextel Cup, along with fellow Chasers Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin… and Mike. Landing on the other side were Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch… and Cami, who all suffered setbacks. Up next is Dover’s Monster Mile… who will slay the beast, and who will be beaten? Let’s find out.
Q: Looks like Kevin Harvick is on his way to a championship, and I couldn’t be happier about that. It’s sad that most of Dale Earnhardt’s fans became Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans instead of Harvick fans because they went with the name and missed the real driver. I’m happy for Richard Childress… but I’m even happier for Harvick and for Dale’s legacy with that team. Once he wins the championship, I think Richard should go ahead and run that car as the No. 3 next year. Harvick will deserve it, since he’s the closest thing to Dale we’ve got left.
10. We are hearing that Mark Martin’s pending 2007 NASCAR Truck Series contract with Roush Racing prohibits him from winning EVERY race. He must “throw” one once in a while and place second.
Who was hurt more on Sunday – Kyle Busch or Jimmie Johnson? In particular, what has happened to the No. 48 team since August, and can it be fixed?
The biggest controversy of the week – perhaps of the season – started late Sunday evening when SPEED TV reporter Bob Dillner told viewers, “As darkness falls upon New Hampshire International Speedway, we have learned that there was an issue with the winning car of Kevin Harvick and also his teammate, Jeff Burton, in post-race tech.” Dillner said that the teams had created a 0.003-inch nick in the rims to act as a bleeder valve for the tires. Since then, NASCAR, Childress, Harvick and Burton have all adamantly denied the story, while Dillner and the execs at SPEED stand by it.
Racing has always been a sport where momentum can be stopped at the drop of a hat. The slate is wiped clean after every race; you may finish Sunday in victory lane, but the next weekend can provide you with an opportunity to go from hero to zero immediately upon the drop of the green. Ask Jimmie Johnson about that; he can relate.
Harvick dominated at New Hampshire Sunday, leading 118 of the final 123 laps to take the checkered flag first for the second week in a row. Finishing .777 seconds in front of second-place Tony Stewart, Harvick took not only the win but the points lead for the first time in his Nextel Cup career, starting his Chase out on the right foot.
As fall nears and a brisk chill begins to fill the air, the battle for the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship is just starting to heat up. Just one race into the 10-race Chase, the points standings have already jumbled up faster than the leaves can start to change colors. With the driver points for …
Can we spend just a few minutes mentioning NASCAR’s non-Chasers, please? Otherwise, sponsors will leave and we will end up with fewer quality teams in a few years!
2 – active Cup drivers who made their first career starts at New Hampshire; Jeff Burton and Joe Nemechek. Ironically, both made their Cup debut in 1993, during the first ever Cup race held at the track.