Not that seeing these four drop from Chase contention after the first round was any surprise, of course. In fact, for those of us who filled out our Chase Grid, this round was probably the easiest selection (though I’ll admit I had Busch going on to the next round).
I really do like the new Chase format, but the fact that there are no shockers, surprises, or otherwise any significance to the four drivers who were eliminated last Sunday at Dover says to me what I thought the second they announced the Chase grid format: there are not 16 championship caliber teams on the track each weekend.
Now, 16 different potential winners? That is absolutely an acceptable number, especially considering that only three drivers were able to sneak into the Chase without wins: Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, and Biffle. And no one is going to say those three aren’t capable of winning. They just … haven’t yet this year, for some reason.
When these 16 drivers are put on display on equal footing, though, anyone who follows the sport knows that they aren’t all necessarily equal. Heck, there aren’t even ten championship caliber teams in a given season, which was the original number for the Chase.
I know it’s the same in other sports. There are teams that everyone knows won’t make it all the way to the SuperBowl (or whatever the end-of-season game is called in other sports) and probably won’t even make it past the first round. It’s just the way it is.
Yes, I know it’s incredibly obvious that I don’t follow other sports. Shut up, you.
I’m not complaining about the new system or even advocating for another change. It’s quite the opposite. I love the new system and hope they leave it alone for a long time – if for anything but the sake of leaving it alone. It’s getting difficult learning new rules every two years. They start to blend together.
My point is that it just feels weird that four supposedly championship caliber teams fell out of the Chase and no one cares or is even surprised. Of course some fans wanted to see Almirola or Allmendinger pull out a Cinderella story scenario and move on to the next round against all odds, but no one expected them to. And they didn’t.
I imagine it will be the same this round. We’ll have one – maybe two – drivers who are surprisingly eliminated, but, for the most part, the Contender round will answer questions we already knew.
But we don’t watch for what we know. We watch because anything can happen and – like the commercials say – probably will. I just can’t help but wonder how the drivers on the negative side of that feel about it.
Now onto the mailbox:
“I’ve heard that the Ward family wants to file a civil suit against Stewart, but how can they do that when a grand jury said he didn’t do anything wrong?” Harmony
The standards are much lower in finding guilt – or negligence, in this case – than it is for a grand jury. The grand jury was simply tasked with deciding whether or not the prosecution had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Tony Stewart had committed a crime.
In the case of a civil suit, all the Ward family would have to do is prove that Stewart was even somewhat negligent in his driving. Was he going too fast for under caution speeds? Did he drive too close to Ward? The attorneys wouldn’t have to prove that Stewart was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They would just have to prove that there was more he could have done to prevent hitting – and ultimately killing – Ward. I would imagine that it would be difficult to not fault Stewart to some degree for what happened, no matter Stewart’s own insistence that it was an accident.
Stewart and the Ward family will likely wind up settling out of court. For Stewart, it would be over quicker and it would prevent the incident from being legally over-analyzed, something that has already happened way too much in the court of public opinion.
For Stewart, it’s about moving on. For the Ward family, it’s about righting what they perceive to be a wrong. The sooner both parties can move on from the incident, the better.
“Do the drivers not get bonus points for the wins in the Chase? I was looking at the points and they are all just at 3,000, even though Logano, Keselowski, and Gordon all won races.” Barbara
No, bonus points don’t accumulate after the Chase starts. If a driver advances, their points are reset to the next level (3,000 in this case, 4,000 in the next, etc.) but the bonus points for the wins are only for the initial reset of the Chase. After that, everyone is treated equal if they advance to the next round.
I think I would still prefer that drivers get bonus points for their wins. That way, if Brad Keselowski wins the first race of the round, he still has incentive to keep taking chances in the next two races rather than relaxing and not doing anything too risky. Why not continue to try and gain an upper-hand on the competition
and accumulate more bonus points?
I know drivers say they want to win every race, and I believe them. But making it so they essentially have to win – and keep winning – in order to win the championship is a recipe for excitement. I think NASCAR has that concept down very well, but I do wish they had kept the bonus points in the Chase for each individual reset.
“Why is Dover adding a higher catchfence? Did something happen that didn’t make it on TV?” Nicole
Not necessarily, but it sounds like the catchfence is part of just a full-scale renovation project for Dover International Speedway. Changes are expected to be made to pit road, as well as the addition of medical facilities for fans and SAFER barriers on the racing surface.
Honestly, I think it’s great that Dover is adding a taller and safer catchfence before anything major happens. I hate it when changes are only made after the fact, and Dover shouldn’t wait until a weakness or flaw is found in their grandstands to create a better one. In fact, it was probably the incidents related to catchfences in recent years (Carl Edwards’ Talladega wreck in 2009, Kyle Larson’s crash in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona last year, to name the most major) that caused Dover to consider making a change.
Good for them, though. Now I just wonder how many other tracks will follow suit.
About the author
Promoted to editor in 2013, Summer is one of Frontstretch’s fast-rising young talents. While contributing to social media efforts, she also writes the weekly "Up To Speed" column. A Kansas native, Summer graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2015. She also contributes to other media outlets such as Kickin' The Tires.
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