Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy.
The nickname submissions are still flying in about this post we wrote yesterday. We have easily over 100 different nicknames, so the weekend will be spent parsing down your entries for the vote.
We touched a little on the first question in our Chrome Horn podcast (you listen to that, don't you?), but let's go a little deeper into the topic, shall we?
You have said that points still do matter in the new “Win and you are In” Chase format. Can you explain how you can justify that when even the drivers are saying that points don’t matter anymore. Joey Logano said after the Phoenix race that ''Third place really doesn't mean anything” and I tend to agree. The FOX announcers kept saying throughout the race that “Dale Jr. has nothing to lose because he is already in the chase.” Where does the points system matter anymore? Once a driver gets a win, that team can use the rest of the season as a test session because it just doesn’t matter where they finish each race anymore, as long as they start. Please help me understand this. - Brian
While it's very fun to draw conclusions about NASCAR's points format after two races and make sweeping statements like "winning is everything," it's extremely premature, if downright incorrect. Given the marketing blitz that came with the aforementioned phrase, it's almost like we're living in a NASCAR Costanzaland where saying something enough times means it has to be true.
Winning still isn't everything. If winning was everything, then Chase spots would only go to race winners. But with 16 Chase spots and a strong likelihood based on past Chase years of 12-14 race winners in the first 26 races, we're going to have non-race winners in the Chase.
The only way that "winning is everything" is if exactly 16 drivers won a race. If more than 16 drivers won a race in the first 26, guess what? Points are going to matter, and the lowest-scoring drivers of the 16+ winners are going to be left out.
Points still matter because they factor heavily into the majority of plausible playoff scenarios that will unfold in the first 16 races.
I have no doubt teams will structure their races to go after wins a bit more than they have in the past. But to forsake "points days" in the sole pursuit of a win isn't going to happen because teams know it could come back and bite them in the rear.
And consider how fascinating a scenario like this could be: Say it's Darlington and Team A is running fifth. A late caution flies. Team A stays out while the other 20 cars on the lead lap pit in an attempt to virtually guarantee a Chase berth. Team A assumes the lead but quickly is enveloped by the fresh-tired brigade and finished 17th. It's a potential 19 point swing.
Team A runs well the rest of the year, but isn't in a position for a win again. At Richmond, 14 drivers have won a race, and no one new wins. Team A is 10th in the points standings, seven points behind the team ahead. However, Team A is third amongst winless teams. Team A misses the Chase.
Winning is more important. You can't dispute it. But winning can't be the only focus.
Now, on to group qualifying.
I thought it was pretty entertaining and fun to watch personally. - Danny
I enjoyed the new format, it brings a little drama to qualifying. This was always a forgotten part of racing for the Cup cars, with owners’s points and God knows what else it never meant much, just another test session. Except for the TV coverage I enjoyed it. Now make qualifying worth some points and then it will get really interesting. - Ed
I wouldn't be surprised if heat races or points for qualifying ended up being the long-term goal of this qualifying format. Hey, what if you get a guaranteed Chase berth when you get a pole?
That's a joke.
The potential for drama in the new format is much higher, obviously, than it was under the old format, but as I said Friday, the coverage of the session needs to be much better if it's going to be something that catches on with fans. Can you imagine any other sport having a comparable event like that on tape-delay? It's absolutely absurd.
And even outside of the taped factor, the coverage just seemed discombobulated. However, much like the points system, we shouldn't be making judgments about the qualifying format after one session. Let's see how it goes over the next few weeks. Personally, I don't mind the "cooling engines" segment of qualifying as it adds a layer of intrigue. But I would understand if NASCAR came up with a workaround to prevent drivers from circling the track at 40 MPH during the middle of live qualifying. There's potential calamity there with drivers turning hot laps at the same time drivers are cooling their engines.
This seems to be the year of changes. So here are a few in my mind that NASCAR needs to do. No more drivers moving down to race in a lower series. If you want to bring a driver up from a lower series. Fine. This is not just Kyle Busch's fault, it's the fault of all drivers that do it. How would Johanna Long's year been different last year if she were racing in Kyle Busch's nationwide car? Sponsorship is not the problem. Sponsors only ask that drivers race in multiple series because its allowed. If NASCAR says no more, then sponsors won't ask for it. - Tim
It's not nearly as simple as eliminating Cup drivers from the lower series, which is why I think NASCAR will act soon. But when they act and make a rule about Cup drivers participating in lower series, it'll be a limit to races and not a ban.
Companies, especially in the Nationwide Series, want to be associated with a Cup driver at a fraction of the cost. So what happens in the Nationwide Series is like what happens in the Cup ranks, just on a different level. If you have the option to spend approximately the same amount to fund a Nationwide team but will have the ability to latch on to a Cup driver for marketing purposes, you're going to choose the team with that option over the one without that option, right?
Sure, you could be a racing "purist" and want to help a younger driver through the ranks, but many companies and executives aren't thinking about that. Your ROI will likely be higher with a Cup driver, and that's more important to people in a board room.
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