It's just Wednesday, but I'm already getting reports that people are starting to set up at Bristol for race weekend. This is a wonderful phenomenon, the way that people migrate to tracks for 10 days at a time to reunite with their race families once or twice a year. Friends, I love these kinds of stories. I WANT these kinds of stories. Send them to me, gory details and all. And if you don't have a story yet, go create one. All names will be changed to protect the guilty.
Now, your letters.
Jay, recently in a chat, I mentioned would Brad Keselowski (JetSki) go for broke and 10th place in the standings into the Chase so he could get the bonus points for his wins in the Chase (wild cards receive no bonus). At the time, he was still pretty far back (before the 2nd win, he was even out of the top 20).
Guess who's in 12th place, albeit (hey, that word is bag worthy!) 54 points out of 10th? Young Master Keselowski himself. Tough to get there? Sure, but look at Hamster and Smoke. Both are on a down elevator right now, while Junior has at least reached the stop button and rebounded with two consecutive respectable finishes. JetSki for now is safely in the Chase/Top 20. He could conceivably take a few more chances for better finishes and more wins.
I'm pretty sure Junior's safe, but I'm thinking that Clint Bowyer is going to catch Stewart before Brad Keselowski can. Sure, it's mathematically possible for Jet Ski, but it requires Stewart to finish almost 20 spots below Keselowski three weeks in a row. Keselowski ought to go for wins, absolutely, but he and his team would be better served by getting completely in sync for the Chase. Plus, as Carl Edwards noted, the six bonus points Jet Ski would get for making the top 10 are, realistically, fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of Chase things.
On a broader note, we're setting up for the classic "coast into the postseason" versus "carry momentum into the Chase" scenario here, with several drivers locking up positions over the next two weeks and several others sweating out Richmond. Which sets you up better for the Chase? Your thoughts, friends?
I was wondering what the Chase situation would be if there was a tie for 10th place in the standings. If neither driver had a win, would they both be in and the Chase would only have one wild card, or would there be 13 cars in the Chase? Also, what if one had a win and the other didn't? Would the one with the win be in and the one without miss the Chase even though he was 10th in points? Even more confusing, what would happen if there was a three- (or more) way tie for 10th place? The new points system makes it much more likely to happen, (though still not very likely.)
Iowa City, Iowa
Good questions. The points tiebreaker is finishes: most wins, then most second places, most third places, and so on. So in your first scenario, NASCAR would take the driver with the more second- (or whatever) place finishes. In the second scenario, the guy with the win gets the nod, and the guy without gets bumped to the wild card division (and, this year, out of the Chase). If there was a three-way tie, that would of course trigger the Swimsuit Competition, and nobody wants that.
Did Kurt Busch really think he could get into Jimmie Johnson's head? It was a desperate shot at trying something anything to shake JJ, but really? Does Kurt really think he is even close to being in the same league? I'm surprised Kurt isn't whining that JJ got a lucky break and he didn't, there should be someone he can blame for that! Just wondered what you thoughts are after Michigan, [with] Kurt sliding 2 and his brother, along with JJ, running away with it.
After the pro-Kurt, anti-Jimmie letters of a couple weeks back, we received a tide of pro-Jimmie letters, so we'll run a couple of those. First, this one, which makes the classic mistake of drawing conclusions from a single race. Yes, Kurt definitely ended up on the losing end of the equation in Michigan, but that doesn't mean this is over, by any means. Remember when I called the Busch boys "badgers" here? Well, get this — seems Kurt reads this column (heads up, people; you're being watched) and tweeted this photo of his car from Michigan:
The #22 Honey Badger don't give a [darn]. No way the KB/JJ rivalry is over.
THIS JUST IN: Pocono shortens its races to 400 miles! Fans rejoice! In other news, Cancer is cured, weather is as changeable as a thermostat, and junk food is good for you! O.K., not really, but this is a shocker. During the Pocono chat, several individuals brought up the idea, and many (including yourself, I believe) shot it down, guessing it to be highly unlikely. Now that it actually has happened, do you think this might be a trend, or just an extraordinary event? Is NASCAR (or the track owners, at least), trying to cater to the fans? It can't be!
Letters like this always confuse me a bit, because NASCAR actually does more than any other sports league to try to meet the needs of its fans. Sometimes this makes the sport look too reactionary (how many different Chase rulebooks have we had so far?) but more often, it's a positive change (Green-White-Checkers, double-file restarts). But yes, I thought there was no way Pocono would shorten its interminable last 100 miles, and it did. Hallelujah! New letter-writing assignment: what track would you like to see make a change, and what change would it be? (And no, the answer can't be "Fontana" and "disappear.") Go!
People do not want to commend Jimmie Johnson on the absolute great job he and his CREW have done the last 5 YEARS!! They just want to pick at him at any given chance. Sorry people Jimmie Johnson cannot be perfect all the time. He is normal. He is just a clean, dominating guy ... [extended defense of Johnson cut for brevity's sake] ... Some fans are the jealous type that don't like dominance, but hey, guess what: us 48 fans don't care and Johnson will continue to show success because he has a great team, and seems to be a great all around guy ... [continued defense of Johnson again cut for brevity's sake] ... Drama will always make the media front page, and guess what? That would be Johnson on that page. Ha.
I'm going to end every email, phone call and conversation with "Ha." Regardless of whether it makes sense. Now, Brandi, I'm sure you're a very nice person and all, and yes, Jimmie Johnson is a wonderful driver. One of the best ever. A first-ballot Hall of Famer. But come on over here for a second. Bring your fellow 48 fans with you. Come on, gang, we know there are a lot of you. Yes, even the ones wearing Yankees hats and Miami Heat jerseys. Gather round. All here? Good. Now, let's have a little talk. Let me see how I can put this delicately ... ah, here we go:
QUIT WHINING THAT NOBODY RESPECTS JIMMIE JOHNSON. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, YOU'RE RIDING A REIGNING FIVE-TIME CHAMPION. STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELVES.
Seriously, 48 fans. Knock it off. Stop complaining that nobody gives you respect. We all know that every fan on earth wishes their guy was as successful as yours. You backed the right horse. Congrats for you. The price of that? Truckloads of jealous criticism. Deal with it, and try to comfort yourself with a half-decade (and counting) of championships.
In Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s postrace interview, he blamed Goodyear, his pit crew and even slow #00 for his race. Can the guy get any more pathetic? Why don't you writers call him out for once?
Because then NASCAR would stop giving us free yachts and French villas in exchange for promoting the wonder that is Junior.
And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at email@example.com, find us on Facebook right here, or hit us up on Twitter at @jaybusbee. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous! Ha.
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brad Keselowski
- Kurt Busch