Happy Hour: It's alternate universe week here at From the Marbles

Nick Bromberg
March 20, 2014

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg.We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy.

This is a very interesting mailbag this week. We have a good question and some, uh, other questions. Let's get right to it.

Lets say we live in an alternate universe where NASCAR doesn't have a list as long as Talladega's backstretch of races that have had cautions of "questionable legitimacy" in the closing laps. Does the caution at the end of Bristol elicit a different reaction? - Darrell

Or what if Denny Hamlin doesn't say what he did after Michigan in 2010 saying that NASCAR called cautions for show business?

NASCAR did the right thing by admitting a mistake right away, even though the initial explanation was different than the next one. It didn't do that when the caution light controversy happened in 2004, when Carl Edwards slowed down in a truck race when he saw the caution lights and ultimately lost the win because the race stayed green. That said, the sanctioning body got very lucky the rain came.

What would have happened if it hadn't rained and Edwards lost the lead on the ensuing green-white-checker restart? That's a black eye, even if it's an accident. With the rain, it's just a body blow that could have been a whole lot worse if it wasn't for some good timing.

But yes, now that we know there's a button that can easily be pushed, there are going to be a lot of jokes over the next few races about debris cautions, especially after a long green flag run.

Darrell started us off with a question about living in an alternate universe. Now we get into the questions from readers who may be in alternate universes.


If NASCAR wants to end a race under green flags then why is it so hard to just stop counting caution laps as part of racing....There is absolutely NO racing involved in caution laps...Make them race all the posted miles. - Keith

This is ridiculous for points races. I have no problem with not counting caution laps for exhibition races, but one of the strategical points of racing is fuel management. How do you do that when you don't know how long the race is going to be? And how long would a race at Martinsville take if we didn't count caution laps? A race with over a dozen cautions there can sometimes seem interminable. Do we want to have a five-hour race? Why?

On this next one, I'm going to go line-by-line.


First i think the "chase" is stupid. it is just an attempt to copy the other sports that have a playoff system that generates a lot of money. That was not what the primary focus of Nascar was to start with.

NASCAR wasn't started to make money?

What was important was what a driver and crew did all season long.

OK, I'll buy that point there, and say that three points for a regular season win can easily be wiped out in the Chase.

And I believe it still could be with a system of points awarded as to the finish of the driver in each race. this would determine the true championship diver and team.

So what do you call the points system that's in place now? You know, the one that decreases by a point for every position.

That would eliminate all the silly extra points for this and that and all the rest of the things that detract from the really important thing, which is how the drivers finish the race.

Three extra points for winning the race and a lap-led bonus point and a most-laps led bonus point detracts from the finishing order? Right now, if a driver finishes 10th and leads the most laps, he can have as many points as the driver in eighth, assuming that driver didn't lead a lap. How is that detracting from the finishing order?

The fans have never really understood the point system as it was anyway, with so many points for this and that and another thing. most would only know where a driver stood after a race was completed.

What is hard to understand about this points system? It may not be the best points system, but it's certainly not hard to figure out.

So why not simplfy everything and get back to what was important the racing each week and make it possible for the average fan to understand exactly where a driver and team is in the championship as each races happens. And at the end of the season the driver and team with the most finishing points would be the champion... simple enough? - Steve

OK, I get it, you just want the Chase gone. The points system is just the whipping boy. And now we go from someone who apparently thinks winning is too important to someone who thinks that winning isn't important enough.


I really think NASCAR made a mistake when they went to this format. Now winning a race is not a necessity. I compare it to golf when the sponsors started throwing a lot of money into the game of golf. You didn't have to win a single tournament and still be the money leader. It made it rather boring. Why take a chance when you can come in tenth and make a lot of money. Now NASCAR for a weird reason thought it would be more interesting to at least give 12 hopefuls the chance to win. Never mind about the entire season, just do enough to get to the last races, heck you could probably save your best car for those races and look good. If someone won 9 races in the season and then went to the Chase and had 2 bad showings or a DNF they're out, it doesn't seem fair does it? If they wanted to change the system all they had to do is change they way they scored to make it more competitive. That way you could do the whole season and not break it up into this short season for 12 people. - Chris

I'm really not sure where you're getting the number 12 from, Chris. And who these "hopefuls" are. The Chase has been expanded to 16 drivers and the new Chase asn't given anyone any new hope for a win. Has it dictated strategy for some teams? That's what the sanctioning body hopes. But Front Row Motorsports' chances at a win didn't suddenly increase with a new win-and-your-in points system. 

To increase their chances, they'd have to employ an a differing strategy than they'd otherwise do under the old points system. And Chris, you alluded to a decrease in risk taking, so that would be something that runs counter to your point, right?

The Chase really hasn't changed either. The drivers in the elimination spots weren't going to win the Chase anyway. They're just being formally eliminated rather than informally eliminated. One bad showing ruined the chances of Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year and there were no eliminations then.


Everywhere I go, I read or hear, "Points don't matter any more."  But of course they do.
Unless exactly 16 of the top 30 drivers split the 26 wins in the regular season, points determines who is in the chase. Any less than 16 race winners and points fill out the chase. Any more than 16 race winners and points eliminate race winners from the chase.  (Yes, despite what we've been told, it is not, "Win and you're in.") And no, even if Parker Kligerman gets a crap shoot win at Taladega, he doesn't go to the chase unless he gets enough points to finish in the top 30. Wins are now more important, but points didn't go away.  So please stop telling us they did.  Your comments? - Kurt

Kurt, are you new here?


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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!