Posts Tagged ‘Winston Cup’

Chase For The Sprint Cup Finale: Two Drivers, One Race

November 20, 2011

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the Chase for the Sprint Cup comes down to one final race, the Ford 400, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. This will be a race between two drivers, three points apart. Let’s take a look at them.

Carl Edwards sits at the top of the points with his one win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the beginning of the year. That win gave him three points more than Tony Stewart heading into the Chase, as Tony had not won a race in the first 26 races of the regular season. Carl was Mr. Consistency all through the chase. Tony won four of the nine races in the chase so far. They both earned the same amount of points in the chase. The difference is the three points for winning in the regular season. Now it comes down to one race between these two drivers.

Tony has two championships, Carl has none as yet. Although Carl had the most wins in a year, Jimmie Johnson won the championship that year.

Tony won the 2002 Winston Cup championship, and at the time I felt he was undeserving of the Title, as there was much turmoil all year with him needing anger management a lot of the time. That was this fan’s opinion at the time. Nevertheless, he won the championship by being the best driver all year, collecting the most points. The chase started in 2004, with Kurt Busch winning the first Nextel Cup after starting the chase in seventh place. This fan had to wonder about the point of giving the championship to a seventh place team. The next year Tony won the Nextel Cup by being the best driver in the second half of the season. And this fan had to wonder if he was going to win them all just by being at his best in the last ten races. (I was proven wrong, as Jimmie won the next Nextel Cup and then the next four Sprint Cup championships. I was not proven wrong about the chase, as Jimmie managed this feat by being at his best in the chase.)

Now it comes down to one race and two drivers. (Although 41 other drivers will be racing in the Ford 400.) Carl has won the last two out of three races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. So he knows how to win here. He also sits on the Pole to start the race. Tony has won a championship in this format and he was the last champion to win whose name was not Johnson. He starts the race in fifteenth.

It should be a great race between these two drivers. However, I’m sure the fans of the other 41 drivers will be wanting to see how their driver is doing. Hopefully one or more of these other drivers will be leading the race so the fans will be able to see more of the race than just these two drivers.

This fan is not a fan of the chase. The system was not broken, so I fail to see the need to “fix” it. And many long time fans agree with me. For me, the champion should be the best all year (as Tony was in 2002), not the best in ten races (as Jimmie was). With the new points system of one point for each position, the points are close anyway. So, I don’t see the need for a “playoff” just for the sake of a “playoff”. I don’t see the need to give a 12th place team a better chance to win the Title. There are 36 races in the season and this fan does not like having the last ten races meaning more than the others. Each race is an individual race and they all should  be treated equally. Homestead hosts the final race, but this fan thinks it was more exciting watching the drivers race into and out of the top ten to get on stage at the banquet at years end in this race.

The Ford 400 starts Sunday afternoon and when the Checkered Flag falls, one of the two drivers will take home the Sprint Cup. (Although it is no longer a Cup, but Checkered Flags.) Here’s to an exciting finale to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.

 

Dale Earnhardt, Sr. And Jr.: NASCAR Fan Commentary

February 17, 2011

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season is underway with the Daytona 500 on Sunday. This marks the tenth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death coming to the Finish Line while blocking for his two cars to win the Daytona 500. Michael Waltrip won his first race ever that day. And his son Dale Jr. came in second. There was not much of a Victory celebration that day, as a NASCAR icon was dead.

NASCAR racing went on without him. Or did it? Many safety innovations were installed because of Dale’s death. And the sport has become a lot safer. Earnhardt used a helmet without anything covering his face. His seat belts were not properly installed. When he hit the wall, he broke his neck because his head and helmet went flying. Now everyone has to wear a full-face helmet, held in place by a head and neck device. They have new seats with new belts to keep the drivers from moving on impact. And there are now new walls around each track to absorb energy on impact. All good inovations.

One year before Earnhardt died, two up and coming drivers died in practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At almost the same spot on the track. First Adam Petty, while practicing for a Busch Series race. Then Kenny Irwin while practicing for a Winston Cup race. NASCAR’s answer was to put restrictor plates on the cars for the following race. Jeff Burton started on the pole that race and led every lap. No one could pass with the restrictor plates on the cars. It wasn’t until Earnhardt died that anyone looked into why there was a death or how to prevent any more.

Much has been said of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his lack of performance in recent years. And why does he still have such a wide fan base if he is not performing? I’d like to talk about a NASCAR fan. NASCAR fans are passionate about their drivers. As they were about Dale Earnhardt. But not all NASCAR fans were fans of Dale Earnhardt. Some liked him because he was the intimidator. Some didn’t like him because he moved other drivers out of his way, many times crashing them out.

After Earnhardt had collected seven Championships, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started racing in the NASCAR Busch Series. He won consecutive Championships in 1998 and 1999. Then he moved up to Winston Cup and drove for his Dad. He collected many fans on his own while racing in Busch. He even beat his Dad while racing with him.

Let me say again, NASCAR fans are passionate about their drivers. Jr. has many fans and they have been passionate about him all this time. As pointed out by the media, he has not been winning lately. As the media expects Jr. to be like his Dad, they are always on him for not performing as well as his Dad. But his fans will always remain passionate about him. They are his fans. And NASCAR fans are passionate about their drivers. NASCAR fans don’t find another driver when their driver isn’t winning all the time anymore. They stick with him through thick and thin. And always hope for the best. You can’t convince a NASCAR fan that their driver isn’t the best. Or that they should change drivers.

Some NASCAR fans don’t like Jr. always being in the limelight when he is not performing. The media is always scrutinizing him. Many NASCAR articles are written about Jr., maybe because he is so popular. And why is he so popular despite not performing? Because he collected fans back in 1998 and they are still his fans and shall remain his fans until he retires. That’s how a fan base works.

So non-Jr. fans, if the media is always talking about Jr. despite his lack of performance, blame the media for talking about him all the time. Not his fans who are loyal to him like NASCAR fans are. Jeff Gordon captured many fans when he started beating Earnhardt. Are they still his fans, or have they moved on to other, perhaps better drivers now that he isn’t winning as much? I say they are still his loyal fans. The media just doesn’t talk about him all the time like they do Jr. Maybe after this tenth anniversary they will let Sr. rest in peace and let Jr. race in peace. But I doubt it.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. Let’s go racing!

NASCAR News: Changing the Points System

January 25, 2011

Welcome NASCAR fans to my NASCAR blog. I am not a reporter. I am simply a NASCAR fan. And have been a fan since I saw my first race in 1996. I am not a sports fan. I don’t care to watch football or baseball. But I love watching racing. And fell in love with NASCAR with that first race. I made it a point to learn everything about NASCAR, including how points were given in a race. I never cared how they were doing points-wise during the race. But I kept up with how points were earned and the system made perfect sense to me. If I were handing out points, I would give more to the driver who won. The driver with the most points at the end of the season, wins the trophy. Some years the points are closer than others. And at the end of the year, drivers raced in and out of the top ten in points. Only the top ten in points get to go to the banquet at the end of the year.

In 2003 Matt Kenseth collected the most points and was declared the Champion despite having only one win. At the last race of the year Terry Labonte raced into the top ten and Kurt Busch fell out of the top ten. And it was exciting watching Matt stay in the top ten every race and keep the points lead. Things changed after that 2003 season. And as a relatively long time and definitely Passionate fan, I don’t think the change was good for NASCAR.

In 2004, it was no longer Winston Cup, but Nextel Cup. And later became Sprint Cup. Despite the fact that the trophy was no longer a cup. And NASCAR fans were no longer good enough. More fans needed to be NASCAR fans. Football fans needed to be NASCAR fans. (I really have no idea what Brian’s thinking was. I just interpreted what he did in my own way.) NASCAR needed to have a playoff because all other sports have a playoff. And having a playoff was the only reason anyone watched sports to begin with.

So The Chase was born. The first 26 races were the “regular” season, where drivers raced to get into the chase. The last ten races were the chase where the best driver in those ten races was crowned Champion. Even if he didn’t have the most points in the season. Even if he didn’t have the most wins. It gave the tenth place team a chance to win it all. (My feelings were to ask why crowning a champion based on ten races and giving someone else a chance to win it all would be exciting.)

The first year Kurt Busch was crowned Champion. He was the driver the previous year who fell out of the top ten in that last race of the year. He had a good ten races and was champion. I thought, what a stupid way to crown a champion! Letting a tenth place team win. The next year Tony Stewart was champion. And I thought, what a stupid way to crown a champion – letting a driver who does good in the second half of the season win. And then came Jimmie Johnson. He figured out how to do well in the last ten races. He and crew chief, Chad Knous spend the first 26 races trying things out for the ten chase races. And he has won every championship since 2006.

Now I have to ask why this would be exciting. And I can’t think of why crowning a champion based on ten races would be more exciting than crowning a champion because he was the best all year.

Apparently, other fans felt the same way. The long time fans watched that first year. And thought it was stupid. NASCAR fans don’t want NASCAR to be like other sports. We were quite happy being a unique sport. This is racing, not stick and ball, after all. Television ratings have been going down since 2005 when the chase was now the way a champion was selected. And the ratings have been going down during those last chase races. NASCAR saw the ratings going down. They saw tracks not selling out any more for races. So they tweaked the chase. That didn’t help. Year after year it got worse and worse. The long time NASCAR fans were no longer watching. And the new fans aren’t NASCAR fans.

Now they want to keep the chase, but implement a new point system. The winner gets 43 points and last place gets 1 point. To make it easier for the fans to conceive how points are given. Only, the long time fans already liked the old points system. We all knew how they were given and were comfortable with it. No one had to explain to us how it went. We made a point of finding out because we were fans.

In NASCAR’s effort to gain more fans, they have forgotten  the fans that they once had. By manufacturing excitement. By deciding the last ten races needed to be more exciting than the rest of the season. By not letting the point leader actually win the championship. By making things easier for new fans, who aren’t going to stick around because NASCAR isn’t their Passion. Football fans call NASCAR the “roundy-rounds”. And I have to wonder why we need these fans watching instead of all the fans that were watching before the chase started.

My take on all this? I say put NASCAR back the way it was. It was well received the way it was. Those not in a playoff go home. Not so with NASCAR. All 43 drivers are still racing all the races. Except only 12 of them count. We are told who is in and who is out, after the Daytona 500, the first race of the year! The Daytona 500 used to be the Super Bowl of NASCAR. With the chase, I have to wonder what they are “chasing”. Certainly not to be in the Super Bowl. That was the first race.

What should NASCAR do? Get back to what NASCAR fans liked to begin with. What made the sport the best sport. Why NASCAR became so popular to begin with. Only give a lot more points for winning. That way Matt Kenseth can’t be champion with only one win. The chase is not working. It may be bringing in some fans. But it is chasing away the fans they already had. And shouldn’t those fans be more important than possible new fans? The system wasn’t broken when Brian tried to “fix” it. I say put it back so the long time fans can be Passionate again. Back to racing instead of hype. Dump the manufactured excitement and let us watch 43 drivers racing again. NASCAR is exciting. Racing has always been exciting. You can’t MAKE it so. It just is.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR.

NASCAR Racing: The Chase For The Sprint Cup

September 16, 2010

Louden, NH

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season is now over and the chase for the Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This track is the Magic Mile, just over one mile long and flat. Last year Mark Martin won the first race of the chase.

Here’s a look at the chase contenders.

1.Denny Hamlin won the race at Richmond, his sixth win this year.That places him at the top of the point standings to start the chase. His regular season wins were: Martinsville (a chase track), Texas (also a chase track), Darlington, Pocono and Michigan.

2. Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has won the last four championships. Three championships in a row was the most anyone has ever had, that driver being Cale Yarborough. Jimmie is now going for his fifth in a row. Four in a row was unprecedented, can he make it five in a row? In my opinion, the chase was made for Jimmie Johnson.He has five regular season wins. Auto Club, Las Vegas, his first win at Bristol, Infineon and the last race at New Hampshire. Perhaps he will sweep New Hampshire and start the chase off with a win.

3. Kevin Harvick. Kevin was the points leader before the chase started. His three wins puts him in third for the chase. Kevin won at Talladega, the second race at Dayton and the second race at Michigan. Kevin held the points lead for 18 straight weeks before the chase began. In my opinion, it would be great if he wins the chase after being the points leader for so long. Can he do it? I hope so. He has been running very well this year.

4. Kyle Busch. Kyle also has three wins this year. He won the first race at Richmond, the first race at Dover (a chase track) and the second race at Bristol. I won’t go into how I feel about this driver. However, in 2008 Kyle had 8 wins going into the chase, leading the points. He did no winning in the chase that year. And failed to make the chase last year.

5.Kurt Busch. Kurt was the very first chase winner in 2004. He has won this year at Atlanta and swept the races at Charlotte by winning the non-points All Star Race and the Coca Cola 600, the next weekend.

6. Tony Stewart. This is Tony’s second year as a driver/owner. Last year he led the points lead before the chase. His lone win this year was the second race at Atlanta. Tony won the second chase.

7. Greg Biffle. Greg clinched his spot in the chase when Jason Leffler became the first car to not finish at Richmond. He won the second race at Pocono. Greg started his career in the Craftsman Truck Series, winning the championship there. He moved on to the Busch Series and won the championship there as well. Can he win a Sprint Cup championship?

8. Jeff Gordon. Jeff has four championships under his belt. All were Winston Cup championships. He has yet to win a chase. And he has yet to win a race this year. Jeff finished the regular season in second place, despite his not winning a race.

9. Carl Edwards. Carl is also winless this year, his last win being the season finale at Homestead in 2008, where he had a season high 9 wins. He finished second that year.

10. Jeff Burton. Jeff has no wins this year but has come close a number of times. He went winless last year and didn’t make the chase. But his car came on strong at the end of last year. If he can close a few races and stay out of trouble he could win his first championship.

11. Matt Kenseth. Matt won the 2003 Winston Cup championship, the last one under the old format. The chase was created because he it won with only one win, while others had several wins. However, NASCAR did not award more points for wins, but gave winners ten points toward the chase if they made it into the chase. In my opinion, racing has no need for a play-off when it has no leagues and the Super Bowl is the first race of the season. Matt has no wins this year and has much work to do if he intends to win a Sprint Cup trophy.

12. Clint Bowyer. Clint was one of three drivers who had a chance to race his way into the chase this year. And he did just that by finishing sixth at Richmond. He also has no wins this year. And failed to make the chase last year. However, Clint’s first win was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which starts off the chase.

Commentary

I’m not a fan of the 26 race season and a 10 race play-off. In my opinion, it’s just a way to hype up the last ten races. And in my opinion, racing is exciting without the chase to talk about. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is 36 races long and I liked it that way. The champion should be the driver who is the best in those 36 races, not the one best in the last ten races. Jimmie would not have those four championships in a row if the champion was the one that was best in all 36 races. If the goal is to have the drivers race for wins and the winner of the most races to win the championship, give more points to race winners instead of just 10 to seed them in the chase. The drivers wouldn’t want to settle for second. Or tenth.

NASCAR would get more fans by presenting racing as exciting, each race is exciting. Rather than NASCAR being a sport with a play-off. Fans of the other 30 drivers would be watching the last ten races if there were no chase. Ryan Newman starts the chase in thirteenth. He could win all the ten races and still find himself in thirteenth in points at the end of the year. Denny Hamlin, first going into the chase, could finish 35th or worse in every race in the chase and still do no worse than 12th. I don’t find that very exciting. It was more exciting watching the drivers in the top ten in points racing into or falling out of the top ten. All drivers out there matter. Not just twelve of them. That’s my opinion as a passionate NASCAR fan for many rears.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR.

Commentary: I Love NASCAR. Please Put It Back

July 27, 2010

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog.  I LOVE NASCAR racing. From the first race I watched. I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. To me racing, by definition, is exciting. I’ve never liked stick and ball sports. I have been Passionate (with a capital letter) about NASCAR since I saw that first race.

Winston Cup racing was the best racing. Bill France had a vision about racing and started the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). His son Bill, Jr. got together with R. J. Reynolds and their Winston brand and made racing wonderful. It became Winston Cup and the fans piled into the stands.

In 2003 Winston announced they would no longer be sponsoring the Series. Brian France, son to Bill, Jr. took over the reigns and found Nextel as a sponsor. Telecommunication companies who were not already in the Sport were banned from becoming a sponsor. And if one company bought out another, the new one would not be allowed. With that move, NASCAR got rid of potential sponsors.

Also in 2003, Matt Kenseth won the championship, despite only having one win. I have to say, it was exciting to watch him race every week. He may have  only won one race, but he was right there at the finish of every race. To me, this was what racing was all about.

When Brian France took over, he started the Chase. NASCAR has to compete with football for ratings at the end of the NASCAR season. And since he wanted to capture football fans for those last ten races, he came up with a playoff system. A playoff is supposed to be exciting and everyone would want to watch.

However, NASCAR is not like stick and ball sports. And Brian’s Father and Grandfather understood that. They didn’t want to be stick and ball. NASCAR is unique and they understood that. NASCAR does not need reporters telling everyone what a great sport racing is because the fans already do that.

The Chase has been here since the 2004 Season. Kurt Busch, who was a tenth place team, went on to win that first Nextel Cup. And I had to ask why having a tenth place team winning it all would be exciting. Tony Stewart won the next year, and I had to ask why crowning a Champion based on ten races was exciting. And then came Jimmie Johnson. He has figured out how to win in those last ten races and has been the champion four years in a row.

While that is quite an accomplishment, it isn’t really what fans are looking for. Under the old system, Jimmie would not have won four in a row. And I have to say that having the same driver win year after year isn’t particularly exciting. Unless you are a Jimmie Johnson fan. I happen to be a fan. But the chase has made other fans not want to watch NASCAR any more.

Sprint bought out Nextel in 2007 and NASCAR is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And everyone acts like Winston never was. Since Brian took over and gave us the chase, the attendance at most tracks has been down. And maybe the economy has something to do with it. But with that in mind, television ratings should be up. If you can’t go to the track because it’s too expensive, at least the fans should be watching  the race on TV. But that is not the case.

NASCAR’s idea of having a playoff to bring in football fans seams to have backfired. Football fans continue to watch football, given the choice. And long time fans aren’t watching, either. Instead of bringing in fans to watch the last ten races, this chase seams to be chasing away the fans NASCAR once had. I have to ask why crowning a champion based on ten races is exciting.

The media LOVES the Chase. And I have to wonder why. It doesn’t make racing more exciting because the media tells us it is so. Brian wanted more emphasis to be on winning races. So, the chase is now seeded according  to wins. You get 10 points toward the chase when you win a race in the first 26 races.

Now Brian is talking about tweaking the chase again. He wants the chase to go to the last race of the year to determine a winner. And eliminating drivers from winning. But these drivers eliminated won’t be eliminated from racing and winning. Just eliminated from winning the chase. (?)

Again, I have to ask why that would be exciting. NASCAR has no divisions. Just 36 races where 43 drivers compete. In my opinion, NASCAR was exciting before the chase. The best driver all year wins the Championship. And so far, the driver leading the points on the 26th race, has not gone on to win the championship. And I personally do not find this exciting.

NASCAR racing is exciting. Double file restarts are exciting. The race starts all over. But the chase is not exciting. And the more you tweak it the less exciting it becomes. If Brian and NASCAR wants to get the fans back, I say dump the chase. Give more points for winning. Give points for winning the Coors Light Pole Award. Give more points for leading the most laps. And not just for staying out to lead a lap. Every race will be exciting. NASCAR wants the drivers to go for the win, let them get more points for winning the races. Not ten points toward the chase. And there would be no need for a chase. The driver with the most wins should be the champion. Not the best driver in the last ten races.

So, what do you think? I’m sure NASCAR isn’t listening to me. I’m just a NASCAR fan. But NASCAR is my Passion. And he’s ruining it for me. Talking about only 12 drivers only chases away fans and sponsors. That may make the media’s job easier, but who cares if the media has it easier? I want to know about ALL the drivers and sponsors. Not just their favorites.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR. Leave a comment.