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Hot/Not: Should the Chase reflect wins or consistency?

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Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage billed Sunday's race as a heavyweight bout between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. And a funny thing happened: That's exactly what he got, with Stewart finishing first, Edwards second. Still, desipte four wins in the Chase, Stewart still trails Edwards. Should he?

NEUTRAL: This has been a bit of a touchy subject this week after Stewart recorded yet another win Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Stewart, now with four wins in eight Chase races, still doesn't lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.

The question is: should he?

Stewart, naturally, had his own opinion after the Texas win.

"I'm going to be real disappointed if people are trying to make a story out of a guy that's got four wins isn't leading the points," Stewart said. "It's about 10 weeks. You got to be good for 10 weeks."

Stewart, as it has played, has been pretty good for the first eight of those 10 weeks. His only derailments so far have been a 25th at Dover in the third race of the Chase and a 15th the next at Kansas. Otherwise, it's been four wins and six top-10 finishes.

Edwards has been slightly better on the average, scoring just one of his eight finishes outside of the the top 10. But Edwards doesn't have a win and his lead at the start of the Chase over Stewart was a mere three points.

Knowing all of that, I'd like to analyze this from the perspective a non-racing fan who is compelled to watch NASCAR late in the season. This fan is the same one who will religiously watch any postseason tournament in any major sports category.

Do you think that person would be a little shocked to know Tony Stewart has won 50 percent of the playoff races, yet hasn't sniffed the alpha spot in the NASCAR standings? I know it would, as friends of mine who carry that type of fandom have responded that way. {ysp:more}

Those fans aren't the only ones NASCAR is appealing to, however. If you recall, there was a heavy flavor of disdain among traditionalists when the Chase was implemented in 2004. Many cried that it rewarded one-off wonders who got hot during a 10-race stretch while alienating drivers who churned out quality finishes in the season's early stretches.

Now, the Chase is much the same in a condensed scale. Edwards has been a beacon of consistency, while Stewart has been seriously hot and moderately cold.

Comparing other sports is hard to do, but is remotely possible. Sure, the New England Patriots were undefeated going to the Super Bowl in 2009 but that didn't give them a points advantage when they kicked off with the New York Giants. It's the same thing in sports with multiple-game playoff series.

I happen to mostly like NASCAR's current championship system. The new points system has been a curveball, but overall welcome. My only fix? Let's make winning worth a bit more — five points or so.

Tony Stewart's four wins shouldn't guarantee him the title. But they should at least give him the lead of the points over a guy who has yet to win.

Let's jump into a, uh, ho-hum weekend in the Lone Star State.

NOT: First, I'll say it: Kyle Busch's retaliation was uncalled for and reprehensible. The punishment he received was deserving. The punishment he received should be enough of a wake-up call. He doesn't need more.

NEUTRAL: Just in case you're wondering, using last year's point system Tony Stewart would have a 14-point lead over Carl Edwards after Texas.

HOT: Congratulations, Trevor Bayne, for the Nationwide Series win. It was a great move by the Daytona 500 winner to slide past Carl Edwards on the restart, and then holding off Denny Hamlin was no easy task. It's fun to see good people be successful.

NOT: David Reutimann was a victim of business last week when he was let go from his Michael Waltrip Racing ride for 2012. When a friend and mentor does that to you, it's easy to understand how upset he was.

Still, David Reutimann handled the event with the class that David Reutimann would. Someone get him a ride.

HOT: Richard Petty Motorsports and Red Bull Racing continue to show late-season strength. Isn't it a bit refreshing to see some new faces near the front?

NEUTRAL: Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 6th and 7th, respectively, Sunday at Texas. Earnhardt's finish was his best in Fort Worth since a fourth-place run in 2004 and Gordon's was a big improvement over his 23rd-place run in the spring at Texas.

FINAL: It'd be nice to go a race weekend without a tragedy. As mentioned on ESPN, a stunt motorcycle rider was killed during a practice run at the Boost Mobile sponsor display Sunday morning at TMS. Let's all offer our thoughts to his family and friends.

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