I'm going to a horse race this weekend. (Yes, I know, #thingswhitepeopledo.) And friends, I cannot wait. I'm going to drive everyone around me insane with NASCAR-related jokes. "Watch out for the #83 horse! He'll knock those other nags on their haunches!" "The #48 horse just backed into the fence! What the hell?" "When are they going to start tandem racing?" Oh, it'll be a riot. Give me some jokes to use in the comments, please.
But let's begin by talking about Mr. Consistency ...
Matt Kenseth said that "Carl is so incredibly lucky that it is going to be hard to beat him" in a post race interview. Is it really luck that Carl has had three 'bad' races that resulted in top 10 finishes? Or is it a driver and team who can fight back from anything that will win him this championship?
— Janine R
Well, luck is the residue of design. Thomas Edison said that, or maybe Snoopy. Yes, Edwards has had some good finishes, but nobody in the Chase has rebounded from adversity the way that he has this year. He's been the most consistent, by a long shot, and if he wins the Chase without winning a Chase race, well ... so be it. I've said for months that whoever wins this Chase, there'll be screams of conspiracy. All things considered, "Edwards ran too consistently all season long! He doesn't deserve the Cup!" isn't the worst criticism you could level at a guy, or a system.
Of course, what if Edwards' "luck" is the result of NASCAR helping you? That's the subject of our next letter ...
Why was the 99's black flag reversed? He clearly broke the rule. All year long it's: NASCAR tells you your spot, you get to it before the final turn, if you get out of line after that, black flag. Pretty cut and dry. Edwards broke the rule, but due to his points position he was allowed to break it. [Edited out the comparison to Kevin Harvick NOT getting a break last week.] The consistency sucks, IMO.
Well, here's the thing. Edwards didn't break the rule, because NASCAR screwed up and gave him the wrong spot. They were telling him to get into the right spot, and that's exactly what he was doing. There was miscommunication between the track and the officials. It was the NASCAR version of an inadvertent whistle in basketball or football. (Baseball never admits mistakes.) And this isn't a new thing; at the Talladega driver's meeting, Brian Vickers questioned NASCAR's issues in sorting out the field properly on restarts. And guess who chimed in with a sentiment that NASCAR needs to get it right before the restart? Kevin Harvick.
So, yes, as with so many other conspiracy theories, it only holds up if you look at it from a distance. But if it makes you feel better that the world is against you and your driver, go ahead.
Want another way to fix the Chase? Hey, why not?
My plan would be this; Win during the regular season and you are in. Chasers start the chase with no points and race just amongst themselves as a feature or "chase race" after the "non-chase" race. For a "wild card," the winner of the preliminary or "non chase" would race in the "chase race" and if he wins, is eligible for next week's "chase race." There will be five points for a win at each track. Tie breaker after the final "chase race" would be a point for each chase lap led first followed by a point each for total chase position gained. This would force drivers to race hard and should produce exciting racing. Race at five tracks. Have a short track, Bristol or Martinsville, a 1.5 cookie cutter, Charlotte or Atlanta, a road course, Watkins Glen, a night race on dirt at Eldora and finish where it began, at Daytona. Now that's a playoff!
Not bad, though insanely complicated, as these things often are. I'd like to propose my own idea: win and you're in, plus one or two wild cards to the highest point-ranking drivers without a win. Yes, this year that would have given us almost 20 drivers this year, but so what? It places a premium on winning, though it'd also allow for cruising once you got that first win. I dunno. Screw it. Why not just have one big long marathon race? They run each race, and then when it's done they drive to the next track in their cars. Zero rest. Whoever falls asleep last wins. You got a better idea?
The separation in point values being higher for finishing higher in the race is an important element to maintain if you want to encourage drivers to race for every position. But to truly accomplish such, I think that requires each position gained be more valuable than the last. In other words, the difference between 10th and 11th is greater than the difference between 11th and 12th, etc. Yeah, this may seem complicated and require fractions of points be awarded, but it just makes sense. A position gained in the top 10 is more relevant and indicative of performance than a position gained while middling in the 20s or 30s. Another advantage of this is that it makes overcoming point deficits much more achievable. Of course, it does penalize a bad race even more than the current system. As such, a win has to be compensated that much more. How to do such could be figured out someone far more mathematically inclined than myself.
Does it really seem fair that someone could win 4 races in the Chase but still be runner-up? Not to me.
While I appreciate what you're trying to get at here, and you make some good points, I would like to take this opportunity to propose a moratorium on all proposals to rework the Chase and/or points scenarios. No framework is ever going to satisfy everybody. Never. No, not even yours. So unless you've got some astonishingly wacky idea like racing atop badgers, let's save it until next year.
The problem with every solution is that in attempting to be more "fair," we end up with hypercomplicated scenarios that you need to solve with calculators. Carl Edwards is eight points ahead of Tony Stewart. Thus, Tony needs to finish more than eight spots ahead of Carl to take the lead (bonus points notwithstanding). That's so simple, even a stick-and-ball fan can follow it.
I'm sure everyone has been reading about Tim Tebow's very public drop to one knee/say a prayer/ play football routine. It got me to thinking. A lot of fans of the NFL probably don't care much about prayer before their games, but at every single NASCAR race I attend each season there is always a prayer before the National Anthem. I started to wonder how those fans would feel about this if they ever attended a race. Tim Tebow says a quick prayer and it seems a lot of people hate him for that. How would they feel if they saw over 100,000 fans at Bristol all fall silent as Joe Gibbs gave the blessing? I have sat next to many fans who openly say they don't believe in God, but they remove their hats and stand tall out of respect for anyone around them that does. Could it be that outsiders understand NASCAR really is a sport dominated by tradition mostly grounded in southern roots?
It's interesting how NASCAR sidesteps the questions of religion that come up in other sports, mainly because NASCAR has never even thought to use the prerace prayer as a political bargaining chip. There's a lesson in there somewhere about not compromising your beliefs based on public opinion.
The reason people have such a problem with Tebow is the same reason people have a problem with Dale Earnhardt Jr., fine wine and certain hipster rock bands — it's not him, it's his fans. Tebow seems like a perfectly nice fellow who has a long way to go to be an average quarterback. But when his fans proclaim that he's the backfield messiah, and when they reflexively see any attack on him as an attack on religion (it's not; even Jesus had a quicker release than Timmay), well, it gets a lot harder for Everyfan to stomach. As with everything else, when religion gets used as a battering ram, not as a means of comfort, those on the fence are that much more likely to push back — not against religion itself, but against those who love to rub your face in how holy they are.
Wow, that got deep in a hurry. Let's wrap with some Junior love, OK?
The paint that Junior ran at Martinsville is the best paint scheme ever on this COT. This is the one he should be running full time. Unfortunately, when he gets a good paint scheme, he does his best to try and knock it off the car. Run that one (it really does look good on that car) and drive like he did Sunday, and maybe, just maybe next year we'll have something to cheer about.
I'm so sorry! I lost your name off this one! Email me back, hopeful Junior fan! But yes, Junior is getting some better-looking ink on his car. And he's making sure a lot of his competitors go home with it on theirs, too.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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!