Race Weekend Central


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.

(Credit: CIA Stock Photography)
This year’s championship battle was everything NASCAR could have hoped for. (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

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.

(Credit: CIA Stock Photography)
Chad Knaus isn’t expected to receive any penalties following a visit to the NASCAR hauler. (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

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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I am hard pressed to believe Summer calls herself a “fan” of stock car racing or is she just pulling our chain with these outrageous endorsements of Chase greatness and bowing to BZF. or she truly is a product of the 15 minute, what did you do for me five minutes ago crowd, that selfishly don’t look at the big picture or it’s impacts. I did not watch the race and from what I heard, I have to laugh if you really believe this was the purest, most organic and real scenario…Harvick, Logano, Newman and Hamlin..TOP 4..are you kidding me??????? This was real??? Summer you want manufactured excitement your local Elks club must have a charity WWE event a couple of Saturday nights a year. NASCAR is more than one race, and the Championship should damn well mean more and more than a 1 race “Champ”.


…and another thing that is disturbing the “fan” and media cannot give a valid argument to your points against this system. They say “sour grape”, “jealous”, “your driver didn’t make it” etc…Well myself and others can debunk that argument…my driver made it all the way to Homestead..and when they announced this bologna at the end of last year I hated it instantly, and continued to hate it up until Homestead despite my team doing the good poodle routine, jumping thru the games hoop and getting a small treat at Homestead.


Summer, when you write “Get rid of the chase” you’ll get my vote too. This reads like you’ve sent a resume to nascar.com and are waiting to hear back.


lol…it appears 99% of the Nascar media is…sad stuff.


Per KB, it certainly did look manufactured. How could those 4 be running together for so much of the race? That seems a little too coincidental to be happenstance. As a fan for more than 4 decades, NASCAR is feeling less like racing and more like hype dressed as racing as each year passes.


It’s pretty easy to explain how those 4 happened to be running together so much. The “keep it clean” message in the drivers meeting is code for “You other 39 cars need to go at 80%” I’m surprised they didn’t black flag the 24 for mixing in with the Chase party.


Then again, Gordon pitting at the end may have been the double secret probation black flag.
The fact that Gustafson had to come out with a hostage video-type message yesterday about sums it up.


Good one. I thought the exact same thing….

Bill B

I’ve noticed that too. I thought it was especially obvious when Stewart and Edwards were going for the championship a few years back. Don’t get me wrong, they both ran well enough to win the championship but it seemed like they made it to, and stayed at, the front more than probability would dictate those last few races.

Carl D.

Other things Nascar can do to make things “different, new and exciting” at Homestead…

After the race, the top two chase finishers have to see how long they can hold their hand on the championship trophy. First one to lose physical contact with the trophy wins a consolation “bridesmaid” trophy with Mark Martin’s face on it.

Cars that go a lap down have to turn around and race in the opposite direction. Lead lap cars have to avoid head-on collisions to win the championship.

Only allow recaps on the cars when they pit for tires. The added element of surprise will surely go over well with the newer, more hip Nascar fans of today.

Put a hot-wheels style loop-de-loop on the backstretch.

Different ain’t always good, and added excitement at the expense of legitimacy is not the answer.

Bill B

You left out a “figure eight track without an overpass”. LOL

I do think Brian might bite on that “hot-wheels loop-de-loop” idea. The sponsorship is built in and who wouldn’t tune in to see that.


It’s easy to manufacture a ‘close’ points race if you keep resetting points every 3 races! as for the ‘sellout’ at Homestead…they recently took out about 20,000 seats, and they still had a huge number of them under cover in turn 1. So, now how do you define a sellout? I believe the tiny bump in ratings was due to people hoping to see another brawl on pit road like the well publicized ones earlier. It truly amuses me that the media who were having hissy fits about a ‘1 race winner champion’ (which started this entire nota playoff/playoff ), would have been suddenly thrilled if Ryan Newman won without a victory all year. At least the ‘old school’ fans don’t change our minds every 30 seconds.

Capt Spaulding

Ok, I must be in the minority, If Summer and her fellow fans (Kaila, Marquise, and Harley………Honda and Yamaha must have missed the publishing deadline), it must be true.,,,,,,,,,and if anyone wonders why Jeff posted his farewell, and Matt M left Frontstretch several years ago, all one has to do is look at how both NASCAR and the media reporting has changed…….especially this columns weekly dose of PRO-NASCAR drivel.

Capt Spaulding

I hope she gets the Robin Pemberton, Mike Helton, and Brian France 2014 Bobblehead Collection for her in depth NASCAR features.



Bill B

All I could think of when I read it was a line from Seinfeld… “Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?”. LOL


You act like Kaila, Marquis, and Harley aren’t real people.


Here is my idea for changing the “chase”. How about running 36 races and the team with the most points wins the trophy. What do y’all think?


Sounds about right…”)

capt spaulding

Add to that, you must qualify to race, no provisionals, no wave arounds, cars with accident damage can only cause one caution…no more repeat debris cautions for one car, scraping the wall is not necessarily a caution……..

Carl D.

I like it

Just A Guy

Leave her alone guys!You can disagree (I actually disagree with you), but suggesting a pro-NASCAR point of view does not mean Summer is gunning for a job at NASCAR.com.

It really must suck to sit around and whine while the whole world changes.


Ah, no genius. That isn’t it.


A false note in the echo chamber often gets a negative reaction.


Summer has less depth than a spit puddle.


Positions are now polarized –

support the chase and you are no longer an actual fan of stock cars and have become a NASCAR shill with the Brian France bobblehead collection

don’t support the chase and you show up for drive by bitching on a media site about a sport you no longer want to watch or follow but clearly watch and follow.

I love the internet…

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