NASCAR Racing: NASCAR Championship Weekend

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The end of the season is here! (Oh, no!) It all comes down to this one race to end the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. All three NASCAR top Series’ will be racing this weekend on this 1.5 mile Championship Track. Homestead-Miami Speedway is a little different than most 1.5 mile tracks in that it has variable banking in the turns. That gives the drivers more grooves to race in.

In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the qualifying record for this track is held by Jamie McMurray who posted a speed of 181.111 mph and 29.816 seconds 11/03. Tony Stewart holds the race record of 140.335 mph, set 11/99. Past winners are: Greg Biffle (3), Tony Stewart (2), Carl Edwards, Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte and Denny Hamlin, who won last year here.

The chase for the Sprint Cup comes to a close with three drivers in contention to win the Title. Denny Hamlin won here last year and leads the points. Can this young man, who turned 30 on Thursday, win the race and the Title? Jimmie Johnson has won the chase the past four years. He has never won at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but so far, he has never had to. The past four years he has been leading the points when they came to this track. This year he sits in second. Then again, he had never won at Bristol, but did so this year. Can he finally win here and win his fifth Title in a row? In third place, only 46 points behind the leader sits Kevin Harvick. Kevin led the points before the chase for twenty weeks and would be leading with a fine margin if there were no chase. This is a good track for him and he is bringing a new car to the track this weekend.

For the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Brad Keselowski has already won the Championship. The race this weekend will be a race for the owner’s championship between the 22 Penske car and the 18 Gibbs car. Kyle Busch and a couple other drivers raced in the 18 car this year. Kyle will be driving the 18 car on Saturday.

For the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Todd Bodine has already won the Championship. The race on Friday night will be for the owner’s championship also, between the 30 Germain truck and the 18 Busch truck. Kyle will be driving his own truck.

We can watch Sprint Cup practice for the Ford 400, as well as Coors Light pole qualifying Friday. The Nationwide cars will have practice on Friday and qualifying  and racing for the Ford 300 on Saturday. Camping World Trucks will qualify and race the Ford 200 later Friday evening and into the night.

Now for my commentary.

The chase has come down to three drivers within 46 points of each other. Is racing more exciting because the points are so close? The media thinks so. It gives them so much to talk about and so many scenarios to come up with. But does determining a champion based on ten races make racing more exciting? I don’t think so. And the television ratings have taken a nose dive during these last ten races the year after it began in 2004. The points have been close several times using the regular points system. And the points have not been close the past four years. So, the chase really does not make racing more exciting. The individual races are exciting. And they have been very exciting to watch this year. But the fans and sponsors of 31 drivers do not like racing ten races where only ten (now twelve) cars count.

Racing is racing. There are 36 races in the year. All races have 43 drivers competing for the win. Only in the chase, the other 31 drivers just get in the way. That’s not very exciting. Shell/Penzoil was the sponsor of Kevin Harvick last year and several years prior to last year. Last year Kevin’s team did not perform well and he did not make the chase. This year they moved their sponsorship to Penske for 2011. Harvick could win the championship this year for them, but because of the chase, they will not be with Kevin next year.

NASCAR and the media love the chase. NASCAR fans do not. Personally I liked NASCAR better before the chase started when it was 43 drivers competing each week and they all raced 36 races a year. Oh, wait! They still do that. But now it’s the hoopla about a playoff, instead of racing 36 races. They race the first 26 races to get into the chase and the last ten for the championship. A playoff works in stick and ball because there are divisions and Leagues. NASCAR is just 43 drivers for 36 races. While the cream has risen to the top and always does, the chase eliminates 31 drivers, even though they are all still competing. Last I new, if you didn’t make it into the playoffs, you went home and didn’t keep on competing.

I’m told to get over it because the chase is here to stay. And I have to wonder why NASCAR would want to chase away more than half the fans for the sake of manufactured excitement. Football fans will not watch the last ten races because football is on. Fans of 31 drivers may not be watching, either. (And from the looks of the ratings, most of them are not watching.) I just hope NASCAR listens to the NASCAR race fans instead of the media and put the points system back to 36 races instead of 26 and 10. I don’t think football fans watch because there will be a playoff at the end of the year. In my opinion.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR and will be watching!

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