Holy cow! It’s only been a few days since the final race of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and I’m still pumped up about it. I was cheering for no particular driver and yet I found my heart racing in the close laps of the race, unwilling at times to even look down at my computer to read my Twitter timeline. Everything about the sport’s season finale was exciting and, surprise surprise, the racing itself was superb. Even without the championship to add to the excitement – which it did – passing was frequent, if not constant, and tire wear seemed to create a good balance between track position and pit strategy. I’ve said before that tire wear is very important to the quality of the race, and I feel that was justified on Sunday night.
Oh, sure, the race wasn’t perfect. It would have been fun to see all four championship drivers in the top four as the laps wound down, potentially with a side-by-side finish for the victory/championship. So, yes, the event could have been better, but I couldn’t have realistically asked for anything more. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all had Kevin Harvick dominated the event, leaving little doubt as to who would win the championship and making for a boring race.
Instead, positions fluctuated between the four main contenders several times throughout the event, and there were several gasp-worthy moments that left viewers wondering what impact it would have (Joey Logano’s car falling off the jack stand comes to mind). Several times throughout, all four drivers were right next to each other, sometimes too close for comfort.
All in all, it was an exciting evening and one that we won’t soon forget … until next year, where we will hopefully get to witness the exact same scenario.
And I say “hopefully” because I keep seeing Brian France alluding to some “minor tweaks” that may or may not be made over the offseason. Generally, “may or may not” translates to “we definitely are,” so I expect something to be announced.
If (when) they do, though, I hope it’s not much. Not every race was fantastic, but this new Chase format brought something different, new and exciting. Oftentimes, the next move was unpredictable and desperation led to some tense, intriguing and emotional moments.
Because of that, I really hope NASCAR doesn’t make any changes that could in any way alter the type of racing and storylines we saw this year, because it can’t get much better. I already can’t wait for next season!
Now onto the mailbox:
“I know that NASCAR usually runs a tribute for people who have died during the NASCAR season. Will they including Kevin Ward, Jr. on that list? I think they should. It’s the least they can do…” Kaila
Actually, Ward was honored at the NASCAR Nationwide/Camping World Truck Series banquets on Tuesday and will be honored again during the Sprint Cup Series banquet on December 5th.
I don’t think NASCAR “owes” it to the family or anything to honor him, though. I do think it’s a great gesture out of respect for Ward and his family, but I feel like when you say “it’s the least they can do,” that NASCAR would somehow be wrong if they left Ward out of a slide meant to commemorate people who contributed to the sport.
Maybe I’m mis-interpreting the message here. Either way, I think it’s a good call on NASCAR’s part. I’m sure it will make a few people in the audience uncomfortable (mainly Tony Stewart, assuming he attends). But Ward was a loss to the racing community in a way that affected the NASCAR industry. So, at the very least, I don’t think it is wrong for Ward’s name to be on that year-end list.
“What was the issue with Chad Knaus on Sunday night? Since Jimmie Johnson wasn’t in the championship, TV didn’t seem to feel like talking about him so I didn’t know what the heck the problem was!” Marquise
The official answer is that Chad Knaus was called to the NASCAR hauler for not following a NASCAR directive. This directive was not to put a wheel spacer on the car to fix a loose wheel, but Knaus did it anyway.
Robin Pemberton was asked by reporters whether or not penalties were to be expected, and he essentially laughed at the reaction, calling the discussion a “non-issue.”
“In the heat of the battle – it’s fine, everything’s fine,” said Pemberton. “It’s so far under that it’s ridiculous. We’re good.”
The seeming freak-out about it on social media was that NASCAR ordered Knaus and other Hendrick Motorsports officials mid-race to go to the hauler once the event was over. At the time, it sounded like a serious issue. It turns out NASCAR’s bark was worse than its bite in this case.
I wouldn’t worry about it, though. I’m sure Knaus will find himself in trouble again soon enough! He has that tendency.
“Did I see Michael Jordan in the pits on Sunday? What was he doing there?” Harley
Michael Jordan was there to support Denny Hamlin. Hamlin and Jordan are good friends and Hamlin had hoped that Jordan would be there to see him win his first championship. He didn’t, but Jeff Gluck of USA Today posted a video of Jordan giving Hamlin a somewhat awkward hug on pit road after the race.
Hamlin actually said post-race that Jordan was trying to convert some of the people he brought to the track to race fans, a really exciting sentiment for NASCAR if you ask me. To have a major sports icon such as Jordan take a legitimate interest in the championship is great, and it’s even better for Hamlin.
Needless to say, Jordan didn’t see the person he wanted to win go to Victory Lane, but it was still kind of cool seeing Jordan towering over everyone on pit road.
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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