When the NASCAR doctors who created this Frankenstein of a Chase decided on a new format for 2014, I’ll bet a lot of money none of them had Newman-Logano-Hamlin-Harvick as the four championship finalists. Perhaps Harvick might have been seen as a finalist, but anyone with an ounce of common sense would have been thinking Johnson or Gordon or Edwards or Kenseth or Keselowski, though NASCAR had to be hoping for Earnhardt to go all the way. I don’t think the format has been the TV ratings blockbuster NASCAR hierarchy hoped for, but it has certainly terrorized the best drivers and crew in the sport. How many races did three or four or more Chasers mess up? Or their teams fumbled through a pit stop? Just the first nine Chase races
I am afraid that after all the hype Sunday’s season finale is going to be like a fireworks show where half the shells are duds. I can probably take a nap. C’mon, Newman, Logano, Hamlin, and Harvick? I suppose it could have been worse-Biffle, Kahne, Allmendinger, and Almirola could have been the finalists
Has there ever been a season in which a past champion was not in championship contention entering the final race of the NASCAR season? Yeah, I know, the first season. How about since the early 1950’s? I am not a great NASCAR historian and I am too lazy to Google champions and pour over points.
Thoughts at random:
-I am old enough to remember the 1961 baseball season when Roger Maris bested the mighty Babe Ruth’s home run record. I also remember that Major League baseball put an * by the record since it was done in 162 games and Ruth’s record came in just 154 games. Will NASCAR put an * by the championship in 2014 if Ryan Newman is champion without winning a single race?
-No, Ryan Newman making the Chase finale is not like a wild card team making the Super Bowl or the World Series. The San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals were wild card teams that made it to the World Series, but they won quite a few games in doing so.
-Sometimes I hate being right. Last Sunday when I saw Gordon was in 4th in the Chase standings and how many points Logano, Hamlin, and Newman were ahead of him, I thought “Kevin Harvick is going to win the race and knock Gordon out of championship contention.”
-ESPN commentator Rusty Wallace, please, please, please quit saying that the fact you used to drive the #2 car does not influence your thinking or your comments before and during the race. It does totally. You are a #2 homer more than I am a #24 homer. However, I don’t get paid a lot of money to make unbiased comments, you do.
-As John Lennon sang to Brad Keselowski, “Instant Karma’s gonna get you, gonna knock you right on the head. Mess around with the 24 car, pretty soon your championship hopes will be dead.” Well, karma did bite him big today. It’s biting me too. I am going to a forum in Las Vegas during the NASCAR Championship week and one of the speakers is going to be Keselowski. That will teach me for telling the truth about BK.
-While the Phoenix race was nerve wracking for drivers, crew, and fans of the Chasers, it really was not an exciting race. Harvick had the field covered and someone would have had to wreck him to keep him from winning-and no one could get close enough to wreck him.
-I follow the Twitter parody account Drunken Brian France because the man is hilarious. He is more than willing to point out NASCAR’s foibles, something far too many that cover the sport are unwilling to do. As a fan of dirt late model racing for 45 years, I have to admit he is correct when he stated that incidents like Newman sending Kyle Larson into the wall on the last lap happen in late model racing every Saturday night. Drivers often “nudge” others out of their way. However, unlike the good old days, race directors are not so accepting of this practice, especially if another car is wrecked. In a late model race, if Newman’s actions had brought out a caution flag, the driver who hit the wall AND Newman would have restarted the race at the tail of the field. Or, in a last lap situation like with Newman at Phoenix today, the race director would likely penalize Newman to the tune of putting him one spot behind the car he wrecked. Race director’s call this “rough driving.” If that would have been late model racing, not Sprint Cup, Newman would likely have finished 14th, right behind the car of Kyle Larson that he wrecked.
-I think Clint Bowyer’s 5 Hour Energy Drink is only lasting him about 2 hours. Remember the NASCAR commercial where a car full of clowns pass Carl Edwards in a dream? I think Bowyer was at the wheel of that car.
Finally, I got a post-race email that stated Jeff Gordon had accumulated the most points of any NASCAR driver this season. The rules are the same for everyone though, and what was done in the past doesn’t matter in 2014. Speaking of the past, I was not always a Gordon fan. I was a Dale Earnhardt fan. Yup, it was true. I can remember cussing out the 24 car and driver on more than one occasion. But since Earnhardt’s death Gordon became the face of the sport, is by far its best spokesman, and I greatly appreciate all the off track activities of the man-Google “Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation.”
Thanks for stopping by.