Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: New Chase System – So Far, So Good

Kurt Busch is either really brave or really stupid, if not some sort of hybrid between the two. When it comes to American motorsports, the only other race that is equal to (if not larger than) the Daytona 500 in terms of prestige is the Indianapolis 500. Every IndyCar driver wants to win it, and every driver who has won it wants to do it again. Race car drivers from all over the world dream of just being in the event, and the weeks leading up to it are filled with pageantry and competition.

For Busch, appearing on the Indy 500 grid has been a long-time dream. Later this year, that dream will come true. Busch is going to pull off the coveted “Double” — running the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, all within the same day. He joins a small group of drivers who have attempted the double, joining Robby Gordon, John Andretti, and Tony Stewart. Stewart is the only driver to have completed all 1,100 miles.

The likelihood that he will win both races is slim and none. In fact, it’s not really expected that Busch will be very competitive in the Indy 500. However, finishing both races might be an attainable goal and it will be fun to see if he can pull that feat off.

If not, at least he can be one of the elite few who can say they tried.

Now, on to your questions:

“I’m thinking this new system is backfiring on NASCAR. We already know two drivers in the Chase field. Is it really beneficial to NASCAR to have people know part of the Chase field only two races in? Just seems stupid to me…” Todd

I don’t know what difference it makes, and that’s one of the most ridiculous reasons I’ve heard in terms of criticizing the new system. Seriously, at what point did everyone begin grasping at straws?

I think this is one of the greatest additions to the new system in that race winners are automatically rewarded. How is that anything but a good thing? You’re saying you don’t want to watch the rest of the season because, oh my gosh we know TWO WHOLE DRIVERS who are going to be in the Chase and that’s just horrible, isn’t it?! I mean, it’s not like we could accurately predict 10 of the 12 drivers by late spring with the last system or anything. No, every single time we went to Richmond it was a total surprise who made the Chase.

Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 already “stands out” from the field as a driver who made NASCAR’s Chase. But is that really a bad thing in the long run?
Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 already “stands out” from the field as a driver who made NASCAR’s Chase. But is that really a bad thing in the long run?

The fact that we can all but lock in Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is actually a strength of NASCAR’s system because it rewards wins more. If that wasn’t a consistent cry amongst every NASCAR fan over the past several years, I don’t know what was. In fact, since the pressure is off with both Earnhardt and Harvick (for the most part, anyway) who is to say they don’t go all out and take chances in the remaining rest of the regular season? Instead of being conservative and maintaining their position, they are now free to treat the next six months as a giant, glorified All-Star Race.

Of course, Earnhardt and Harvick aren’t guaranteed a spot yet. For instance, if there are 17 winners, and Earnhardt is the lowest in points of all of them, he misses the field. Considering that this scenario is highly unlikely, though, it is safe to assume that both Earnhardt’s and Harvick’s Chase chances are all but determined.

“Hey Summer, I didn’t realize that the title sponsor of the race involved the Camping World CEO. Did he say anything about trucks??” Kurt

So the name of last weekend’s race at Phoenix was rather long but, as Kurt said, involved an important person in one of NASCAR’s three national series. “The Profit onCNBC 500” is referring to a reality show starring Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis. As expected, Lemonis was at the racetrack as the sort-of title sponsor of the race and spoke to the media about Camping World returning as the title sponsor of the Camping World Truck Series. I will let his words speak for themselves:

In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us. I’m happy enough with what I’ve seen and NASCAR has reassured me they’re going to stay very involved in that process. Week 1 of ratings for the truck series down in Daytona were up 11 percent. I was told it was going to be closer to 40-50 percent, so the jury is still out. But the coverage, I thought was fantastic.

The current contract goes through the 2015 season, but it is likely that an extension could happen as early as next month. Lemonis said that he had wanted to see how the rebranding of SPEED Channel to Fox Sports 1 worked out and, though he didn’t seem thrilled about everything that has happened, he seemed satisfied enough with the direction.

That’s good news for what is widely considered the most exciting of NASCAR’s three main series. Maybe we’ve finally stopped getting tongue-tied every time we try and say the full “Camping World Truck Series” name.

“What did Danica Patrick say to Justin Allgaier afterwards?? And why does she always think she’s entitled to more room on the racetrack?? I’m so sick of seeing someone who can’t drive a lick getting pissy with other drivers when they make mistakes! Samantha

I’m curious as to why you’re assuming that it was Allgaier who made the mistake. I have yet to see a decent replay as to what happened, and I didn’t hear him directly admit any guilt. Allgaier didn’t absolve himself, by any means but he certainly didn’t take full responsibility. Based on his statements, it sounds like just a racing deal:

We went into the corner and I went to the outside and I think it was her and (David Ragan) and got by both of them and was just trying to get back in line and get going. Unfortunately, the end result was what it was.

I do tend to agree that Patrick takes offense to every little thing that doesn’t go her way on the track. She can race everyone else as aggressively as she likes, but they’d best not return the favor or, God forbid, simply race her for position. Apparently, each race is Danica’s world and the rest of the drivers are just living in it.

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