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.
This week we've got some great topics, but before we dive into them, what do you think about Brad Keselowski's schedule idea? It's perfect in a vortex, but that's also the drawback. We don't live in a vortex and NASCAR wouldn't go to those lengths to dramatically overhaul the schedule.
I love the idea of weeknight summer races and I think it'd be a huge asset for the sport in June and July. A race on the night after the MLB All-Star game when there is no baseball would be perfect. I hope it's closer to a reality than we think it is.
Let's get to it, shall we?
@nickbromberg given collapse of Swan, is it better for young drivers to spend extra years in NNS or risk it w/ underfunded Cup teams?— Philip Jones (@philgoodstory) April 24, 2014
If you haven't heard about what happened to Swan, on Wednesday the team basically divested itself of its two cars. The No. 26 is now a part of BK Racing and Cole Whitt will continue to drive it. The worst name in racing, XXXtreme Motorsports, bought the No. 30 from the team and will run it this week before running the No. 44 next week. J.J. Yeley is the driver for that team. Parker Kligerman is still under contract with Swan, though it's unclear when or where he'll drive next.
Now, onto the question and it's a fascinating one. I lean to the Nationwide Series, however I think this question can be asked two different ways. Is this a driver who is simply looking to make it to the Cup Series or is it a driver who has the potential to be a perennial Chase contender. If it's the former, then I can see the reasoning for driving an underfunded Cup team. If it's the latter, it's still the Nationwide Series.
- Drivers need to learn to run at the front of the field. The best way to do that is with a competitive Nationwide Series ride. A driver will deal with lapping cars, see the benefit of not overadjusting a car to go from fast to not-so-fast, and he or she would get to race for position with Cup Series drivers. Yes, I'm an advocate for limiting Cup drivers' appearances in the Nationwide Series, but I'm living in the real world, not a utopian alternate universe.
- Drivers need to win, whether it's in the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series. A national win shouldn't be a requirement to get to the Cup Series (see: Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson) but it should be strongly encouraged. Not only is it a confidence booster, but it's a reputation-enhancer too. Look what it did for David Gilliland's career.
- Here's the flipside to that, however. There just aren't that many good rides available in the Cup Series (and, for that matter, the Nationwide Series) so you can't necessarily fault a driver for wanting to make the leap to the Cup Series at the first good opportunity. But is it the best pathway to future success?
I did some quick research and there are 16 drivers competing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2014 who have made a Chase previously. Five drivers are with the same team they started with in the Cup Series. Of the remaining 11, all but three qualified for the Chase with their first Sprint Cup Series team. The three? Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers.
However, Keselowski may be a bit of a misnomer given his status as a Hendrick developmental driver and his part-time rides with Phoenix and Hendrick.
Of course, the common theme is that all 16 of the drivers above had big-team backing at NASCAR's lower levels before they made it to the Cup Series. Many drivers don't have the luxury.
With the release of the NFL schedule, how often do NASCAR and the NFL go head-to-head in the same (or a nearby) city? It's increased from none in the last two years.
In 2012, the NASCAR was not in the same city or very close to a NFL game on the same weekend. The closest would be Dover weekend, when the New York Jets played at home. And that's a stretch.
In 2013, The Bears were home during Chicago race weekend, the Patriots were during New Hampshire race weekend, the Cowboys were home when NASCAR was at Texas, the Cardinals were home when NASCAR was at Phoenix and the Dolphins were home when NASCAR ended at Homestead.
This year, there are four overlaps. The Patriots are home again, the Ravens are at home on Dover Sunday, and the Cowboys and Cardinals are home again. The Dolphins are home on Homestead weekend but play on Thursday night.
With the Chase and the ultimate championship the way it is, do you think it is possible for a driver (Jeff Gordon for example) to go all the way without a win? Let’s say he stays at the top of points and gets into the Chase on that alone. Then he gets consistent finishes and manages to avoid elimination and then becomes the highest finisher at Homestead. Imagine what they would do then?!? The Chase was invented in response to Matt Kenseth only having one win in his championship run. What would happen if the champion had NO wins. I don’t see it happening, but in theory, it IS possible. Yes? - Brian
Yes, I do. If you assume that the average will again hold and 13 drivers will win in the first 26 races, three drivers will get in on points. And since those drivers are getting in on points (and are likely pretty high in the points standings), they've been pretty strong all season.
By that token, a winless driver would then not be a "fluky" driver, and simply running in the top five throughout the Chase will be enough to stave off elimination.
Remember, the simulation of this year's model had Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning it all last year. Is it likely? No, I wouldn't say it's likely. But it's definitely possible. I'd say the chances are 15 percent.