NASCAR, your Chase has a problem

Jay Hart
Yahoo! Sports

Don't know what was more stunning this weekend – David Reutimann winning or the fact that Baby Johnson didn't get a "J" name.

Now, onto the mailbag:

Weekend in review

Mr. Hart: OUTSTANDING analogy on your comparison to Jeff Gordon, striking out batters with a slider rather than a fastball. LOVE IT! I personally think he's got a few more wins in him, if not another championship, or maybe two.

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But my question is this: You get a lot closer to him than most of us could ever dream about. How much longer do you see him driving, and how many more championships/wins do you see in his future?


Ross Jackson
Longview, Texas

I don't know how much longer Gordon is going to race. I do know that he's still very motivated and, at nearly 39, he still has five to 10 competitive years left in him. My guess would be that he retires on the closer side of that window.

As for how many more championships/wins he has left, I do think he has another title run in him, especially considering he's second in points right now and just three years removed from one of the best seasons of his career. And while I do think he'll reach the 90-win plateau – he currently has 82 – hitting 100 is going to be tough and, in my opinion, unlikely.

Well, as of tonight I will only record NASCAR races, so when I watch them I can zip through the hundreds of commercials they show. There is more advertising time than there is race time, and even as we watch the races we're shown small ads and much of the screen is filled up with graphics. You would think NASCAR would realize it is losing its TV audience for just the reasons I listed above. Thank goodness for DVRs.

Bill Pless
Jacksonville, Fla.

It's a continuous-action sport, so there's not a perfect solution, though I think the side-by-coverage – graphics and all – is the best compromise.

To me, if some sponsor, say NOOOO! (National Organization Of the Offended by the Offended!), "presents" a race commercial-free, then I say, "Thank you, NOOO!, for doing that," and I feel good about their product/organization, whatever it is. It's a solid gesture, and I wish advertisers would embrace that, because I think viewers do. And isn't that the point?

No doubt there are way too many commercials. But if your criteria is a sport without commercials, then perhaps try watching soccer?

You know, in your article "Surprise for Reutimann; not for Gordon," I thought it was going to be about Reutimann's win. He drove the wheels off his car to pass Gordon to take the lead. But no, it was more about Gordon and his winless streak. David Reutimann was an afterthought at the end of the article. Shame on you. His win deserves far more attention than what you gave him.

Cathy C.
Holts Summit, Mo.

I'm being honest with you, Cathy, when I say I thought about that a lot before writing that column.

Here's the thing: My job is to encapsulate the big picture, not get every kid's name in the paper. While Reutimann was certainly a great story, Gordon surpassing the longest winless streak of his Hall of Fame career was a bigger deal.

Beyond the fact that Reutimann finally got redemption, how much further was there to go? Did you really want me regurgitating the details of his Coke 341 victory, and how the win haunted him because deep down he knew it wasn't a "real" win? Didn't you already know all that?

Was Reutimann a good story? Absolutely. He just wasn't THE story.

Great article and spot on. Gordan is a classy guy, and David Reutimann deserved the win at Chicago.

Gary Yates
Lubbock, Texas

Thanks, Gary, but how can you spell Reutimann right and get Gordon wrong?

Chase talk

You know what is sad? Jeff Gordon will go into the Chase with at least nine top-3 finishes yet be tied with the 12th-place driver if de does not get a win.

Why does not the Chase format include a percentage of a drivers points lead over 12th place?

I believe every team needs to be awarded 10 to 25 percent of their points lead over the 12th-place driver at the Chase reset. How many drivers have entered the Chase with a point lead only to loose the championship by less than the point lead they lost at the Chase reset? The Chase format is a joke. In the Chase format, a driver can be first after 26 races but tied for 12th if you don't have wins at the reset. That is just wrong.

Tim Parrott
Parts unknown

I don't call things flat-out stupid lightly, because even when I disagree there's usually some logic behind whatever it is. That said, how NASCAR resets its points for the Chase is stupid.

There are way too many flaws in its design, not the least of which is the one you point out. There's also the reality that the points leader at the end of the regular season could start 12th and that the structure rewards wins in the regular season more than wins in the playoff.

I've made the case a number of times that the regular-season points winner absolutely needs to be first when the field is reset, and that wins in the Chase need to be rewarded with a 50- or 100-point bonus. While I think giving a bonus is a solid idea, I realize it probably won't be adopted. But I hope when NASCAR comes out with its tweaks to the Chase, they reconsider how they seed the field. Not doing so would be a big mistake.

Hey there Jay – Here's the thing with the Chase changes and whatever it is Brian France wants to tweak. I don't care what they do to the actual format in order to contrive competition. It's all made for TV b.s. anyway.

My paramount concern as a longtime fan is races. They have always mattered most to me. The way the Chase has worked so far is to diminish the importance of our biggest races. Think about it: It's more important to win in Loudon than it is to win the Daytona 500 in terms of the championship. Kinda stupid, don't you think?

So as far as I'm concerned, Brian France can do whatever he wants in terms of a Chase format. Make them pull donkey carts in the Homestead parking lot for all I care. Just make sure that the winners of the Daytona 500, the Brickyard, the Coke 600 and the Southern 500 are automatically in the Chase. That's all.

George Zhen
Coral Springs, Fla.

I hear ya barking, brother. Consider this (and I say this as a fan of the Chase): How into the championship battle would you be right now if the Chase didn't exist?

What happens next weekend at Indianapolis would mean something as far as the championship goes to those at the top of the standings; as it is, it only means something for those drivers on the Chase bubble.

This is the trade-off, but is it worth it? I think overall it is.

This and that …

Hey Jay, What ever possessed Rick Hendrick to take a great team and a sucky team and combine their efforts to create two mediocre teams? Too bad Mark (Martin) is such an upstanding guy that he won't jump to Red Bull for next year. Lesson for Kasey: What Rick giveth, Rick can taketh away!!!

Mark Zahn

Whatever possessed Rick Hendrick? Those AMP/National Guard sponsorship dollars would be a pretty good start.

NASCAR at DRIVE-IN THEATERS – My idea would be for NASCAR to broadcast night races at drive-ins across the country! Wouldn't that be fun! It would also draw in non-NASCAR fans and convert some and allow NASCAR to get money from non-fans. But also what a great evening it would be … tailgating … watching the race in a crowd. If they see this idea from your column Jay, you and I should get a free pass for a year … or maybe a hot dog?

Walden, N.Y.

And when the race is over, show "Talladega Nights?" I like it.

Curious about the comments on TNT broadcasting. So the fact that the commercials were in a small window while we can have a complete coverage of the action wasn't good enough?

Let's see if I understand, NASCAR fans want NO commercial at all then! Well then get ready to have all the races on PPV and get ready to pay $49.99 per race if they want NO commercials.

That is ridiculous. If anything, the fact that there was the split window for commercials was AWESOME for the sport.

As for the not commenting on post-race actions … we want to see the race and basta (Italian for enough)! For the post-race action and fights, I personally don't want to see that. It does nothing to the sport but soil it with controversy and material suited for hatred toward drivers.

Lets focus on the RACING and the racing ONLY. Isn't that what sport is all about? Or do we now live in a era where fights and controversy between athletes or even owners are more important?

Custo De Sousa
Long Beach, Calif.

I was totally with you through your first point, but you lost me after that.

Last call …

So Jimmie and Chandra named their baby G.M.? Really? Do they get a contingency award for that?

Angela Cantor

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