Race Weekend Central

Four Burning Questions: New Standards and Clinch Scenarios

*Has NASCAR inadvertently set a standard for itself?*

The lack of a call on the final lap of last week’s race at Watkins Glen has a debate roaring in the NASCAR community, and as such may have changed expectations. See, even if NASCAR couldn’t see the oil, the fact that they let the race play out on the final lap even though it was pretty obvious that something was going on speaks volumes.

So what happens if, say, someone blows an engine, runs out of gas, or cuts a tire on the final lap this weekend at Michigan? The fans will fully expect NASCAR to leave the race green. Unless there is a very serious wreck, it will just be an expectation simply because of what happened last week.

I’m not saying that all fans will _want_ that. I know for a fact there were plenty of folks who weren’t happy with NASCAR for leaving it green with oil on the track (mostly Kyle Busch fans, but still…). But one thing NASCAR struggles with—much like Busch—is consistency. Their calls and positions tend to fluctuate “based on circumstances,” but why is this one so special?

Well, to be honest, it sucks watching the cars cross the checkered flag under yellow. If something happens to a driver at the end of the race, unless it’s catastrophic, the expectation will be for NASCAR to leave it green. If they don’t, there will be hell to pay from fans on both sides of the aisle. The “pro-caution” side for making a call that they didn’t make last week, and from the “anti-caution” side who wanted to see them race to green.

They may have felt like there was nothing more that they could have done, but NASCAR needs to be careful what happens from here on out.

*Do “clinch” scenarios make the race better or worse?*

Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski can all clinch a Chase spot this weekend based upon various scenarios. Let’s just keep it simple, though: If they leave Michigan 145 points or more ahead of 11th place, they’re in (except for Keselowski, who can only clinch a wild card this weekend).

Jimmie Johnson is among the drivers who could clinch a Chase spot this weekend in Michigan but will those drivers throw caution to the wind in the remaining regular season races with nothing to lose?

This scenario is always hyped up once those spots are locked up because the drivers are effectively racing the rest of the regular season with nothing to lose. Right … so _why_ should we keep watching? Apparently because the fact that they have nothing to lose means that they race harder which means more on-track action. It sounds great in theory, but still, where is the incentive? The incentive is already hardly there because the points are going to eventually be reset, but start adding in key players that are “locked in” and they have every right to disappear until after that actually happens.

I guess if you really do need a boost, that wild card race has been surprisingly fun to watch. There’s always that!

*Should there be an international Sprint Cup Series race?*

Watch this weekend’s Nationwide Series race in Montreal and tell me those spectators don’t love them some NASCAR. Hey, rednecks are everywhere!

No, seriously, they love racing up there. Sure the fact that there are a few Canadians in the race helps matters, but you still hear cheers for the American drivers as well. When the race gets tight, the stands get louder, and anyone who has spent any amount of time at that track on race weekend will tell you that they’re like Talladega without all the visible man-boobs.

While the chances are slim that it will actually happen, I would love for a race to be added to the schedule up there. I personally have several Canadian fans on my Facebook and Twitter pages, and they have just as much knowledge and passion for it as anyone else. Why shouldn’t they have at least _one_ date to call their own?

*Does Kyle Busch recover on and off the track?*

Personally, I think Busch will snag one of those wild cards before the checkered flag flies at Richmond … if he can keep his temper in check. Busch was doing everything right in Watkins Glen until he feigned that punch. A heat of the moment, well, moment at its finest, Busch’s raised fist at the TV camera showed some clear, and deserved, frustration on Busch’s part.

I have to ask this, however. Would Jimmie Johnson have done that? Jeff Gordon? Even Tony Stewart, who historically doesn’t have the best relationship with the media? Forget about personality for a second. Champions of the sport can maintain their cool in an extremely tough situation. Yes Stewart has been known to throw a few _verbal_ jabs at times, but you haven’t recently seen him threaten anything physical.

It’s little moments like that that make me thing Busch just isn’t quite championship material yet. He’s talented, sure, but his mannerisms need to be a little more toned down during tense moments. Improvement is good, but control is better.

*Connect with Summer!*

“Contact Summer Bedgood”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

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