Race Weekend Central

Beside the Rising Tide: If I Ran the Chase

Is there any better way to spend a late summer Sunday afternoon that devoting four hours of the rapidly dwindling sunlit hours watching an event you know will most likely leave you alternatively bored and angry? But in contemporary NASCAR racing there’s still always room for an occasional surprise. Even given my cynical nature, I wasn’t prepared to have Sunday’s race leave me alternatively stuporous and furious. Like a lot of you when that now infamous final and completely unnecessary caution came out, setting up a five-lap shootout, I had mixed emotions. I couldn’t believe it. Then I remembered who was sanctioning the race and I could believe it. In fact, I should have expected it. The same thing happened at Fontana with the same driver leading, didn’t it?

NASCAR has grown fond of their built-for-TV-networks “competition cautions”, originally used only when there had been heavy overnight rains the evening prior to the event, but now used if a track worker has to mop up some catsup a slovenly fan dripped onto the track surface crossing back to the infield. So why not just announce there’s going to be a “competition caution” with 10 laps to go every week? I mean they had to do something, right? At the mid-stages of the race there was a three-second gap between first and second place and the top 10 were neatly spaced out, with the 10th-place runner 28 seconds behind. The FAA air traffic controllers only wish they could maintain that sort of gaps between planes in the O’Hare traffic flight pattern.

NBCSN did the best they could to disguise the fact. Rather than the traditional “intervals” beneath the drivers names they were using those colored tiles to remind fans who was in the Chase. They showed the infamous “points if the race were to end right now” numbers with the ticker, or how many laps it had been since a driver pitted, or the number of Twitter followers those drivers had or just about anything to help disguise the race had become a rout. But the blatant attempt to spice things up at the end had my Irish up to the point I was whistling “Danny Boy” with blood spurting out my ears. I forget if it was cardiologist or Elvis Costello who tried to get me to adopt a “I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused….” Mindset. So, I reckon if we’re going to toss aside rules and fairness to enhance the Chase why not go whole hog?

If I Ran The Chase – Dr. Confused

 If I ran the chase,

What a sight it would be;

We’d knock the NFL ratings off the roost

In a year, certainly two, or maybe three.

Why, ladies and gentlemen, youngsters and oldsters,

Your heads would quite likely spin right off your shouldsters!

Oh how the fussy drivers complain

About tracks with dips and bumps

Their heads are going to explode

When I start adding jumps.

So what if all 43 cars end up in the garage?

Yes, that would be quite the mess,

So in that likely eventuality,

We’ll just ask Miss Sprint Cup to slowly undress.

In a sport borne of moonshiners,

What could it hurt

If we tear up paved pit roads,

And replace them with dirt?

We bought all of ’em up,

Though some had to be towed,

Wait’ll the fans get a look at the drivers

Wheeling refugees from Mad Max: Fury Road

Throwing cautions for no reason

Makes the fans outright abhor us,

So we’re having Microsoft work on a robot

That henceforth will do it for us.

Sensors will tell the computers when the cars get spaced out,

And aren’t running three wide or in tandem,

Then our new robot will throw cautions seemingly at random

The drivers are too generic and vanilla,

Some internet hack writer claims.

Perhaps it will help

If we rearrange their faces and give them all new names.

“Call me Six-Time!” he insists,

But that’s the lamest of names,

So instead Jimmie Johnson

Will race as Jesse James.

The Boss has been popular for decades;

We’re not sure what to make of that,

But given his record and facial expressions,

KyBu will race under the moniker of “The Magic Rat.”

Fans will get to rename the other drivers,

Because we love em all to death and then some.

What we love about the fans the most

Is grabbing hold of their incomes.

Yeah, the drivers all fight like girls now,

As if afraid to mess up their hairs.

Wait until the drivers face off in a Thunderdome,

Equipped with staplers, branding irons and folding chairs.

Winners are going to win,

There’s just no way around it.

But if we don’t like that driver,

We’ll do our best to confound it.

So from now on the second-place finisher,

According to the rules we just wrote,

Will be decided by an internet popularity vote.

Fans will still be talking about what happened,

At their Sunday green eggs and ham dinners,

When we tell them that second-place finishers

Get 50 points more than the winners.

We’ve got to admit here,

Talladega’s an issue.

When drivers bob, juke and list like drunken sailors,

Wait’ll you see them racing towing 20-foot

U-Haul trailers.

We’re charting new paths here and we’re terribly confused,

We thought our fans were all drunken Bubba morons

Who were easily amused.

They keep talking about the rulebook,

On their Twitter accounts they scream and shout,

So the heck with that thing,

We’ll just go ahead and toss the cursed thing out,

They’ll then learn to listen,

When we grace them to speak.

That rule only applies on even numbered days,

So it will be back in place next week,

One of our chosen ones eliminated?

How can that be?

So we’ll just wait a week and bring em back,

It worked for Bobby on Dallas on TV,

They’ll be an adjustment period,

We know that to be true.

It’ll be especially hard for us,

To find something useful for Brian France to do.

It’ll be a big challenge,

But sacrifices must be made;

Perhaps BZF can help Mr. Sneelock serve up

Five hundred gallons of lemonade?

He’s likely to holler

And claim I’m screwing things up

Until I tell my long-time buddy, lemonade is ten bucks a cup.

Starting next weekend

All sponsors must be preapproved.

We like ’em all just fine,

But there’s palms that need to be lubed.

We’re going to work on booking bigger celebrities:

We’ll get Trump, the Pope and Santa Claus too.

Cause if the fans aren’t cheering,

They damn well better boo.

Yeah, if I ran the Chase,

What a sight it would be.

We’d knock the NFL off the ratings roost,

In a year, certainly two, maybe three.

Why, ladies and gentlemen, youngsters and oldsters,

your heads would quite likely spin right off your shouldsters!


About the author

Matt joined Frontstretch in 2007 after a decade of race-writing, paired with the first generation of racing internet sites like RaceComm and Racing One. Now semi-retired, he submits occasional special features while his retrospectives on drivers like Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison, and other fallen NASCAR legends pop up every summer on Frontstretch. A motorcycle nut, look for the closest open road near you and you can catch him on the Harley during those bright, summer days in his beloved Pennsylvania.

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Right on. Competition cautions have come into this sport a little too much and the sheep via conditioning are accepting them, much like the “Chase” and the “feel ups” at the airport..”in the name of safety” of course (sarcasm). I hate them. And it always seems the guy who needs the laps and talk up and is tearing it up is forgotten after the restart and the Viagra/Cialis commercials have subsided. Kurt was robbed, no doubt about it how can one explain the dog and pony and Chicago Hotdog unflattering photo op that the Cheesers of JGR love and think the deserve.

Bill B

Channeling Dr. Seuss I see. Nice.
That must have taken more effort than writing the usual column. Extra points for “the magic rat”. I had to LOL on that one. And, get real, if you ran NASCAR there would be no chase.

I am tired of this reality television show masquerading as a sport.


He’s no Theodor Geisel, but the sentiment rings true;
Hang it up Gordon, so we can chant “Chase Screw You!”


good job…..now don’t go getting your irish up too much!


It worked better on The Bob Newhart Show when Suzanne came back.


The Chase itself doesn’t bother me (although I am long past being sick and tired of the obsession pro and con with it) one way or another. To me its just noise.
But I cannot stand the obvious attempts, only partially successful, at adding excitement. If you are going to make the first 480 miles irrelevant why do it? Save everybody a lot of effort and expense and have a 20 mile sprint race and call it a day.


As a 40 yr fan whos interest has dwindled, along with my kids interest, who no longer watch and the grand kids who will never watch. I never got the chase. Why have a playoff? You race the same competitors each race.
I know money rules


the magic rat..
i literally spit my coffee.
MM, you and bowles are the reason I keep coming back to this site.

boring… that’s a good word to describe sunday’s event.
incensed.. barely covers the feelings after that last caution.

kurt has (another) win stolen from him
two prima donnas have a slap fight

will that help propel the ratings over the 1.7 of this past farce?
jumps you say?
good thing nascar doesn’t read this column


I enjoyed the poem! yes count me in as sick of it all, 9 races & counting down to when I really don’t give a magic rat’s a** or otherwise about the whole mess that NASCAR has become.

It was a beautiful day here and I enjoyed most of it since the race was a late start for the east coast. I watched the race and was reasonably happy – until that last caution when I knew it was going to cost Gordon big time. Once the restart happened and he fell back thru the field, I turned off the tv and went out to mow grass (a far more productive thing to do than watch the post-race nonsense) so I missed the slap fight between JJ & Harvick.

Even though I’ve seen NASCAR do this time and again, I still don’t understand how they can completely throw reality and competition out of the mix and still expect fans to take it seriously?

Just Saying

crazy idea – let drivers call a caution – no one else – self policed in no time – better than turning into the WWE – thanks


Classic. Hope BZF doesn’t read it, for I’m sure he would LOVE some of your ideas!

Don in Connecticut

BZF needs someone to read things to him; he can’t read.


It’s funny that your “Magic Rat” is more like the old-timers you adored than any of the rest of today’s NASCAR drivers. Any old school fan who doesn’t appreciate Kyle’s “Refuse To Lose” approach is simply being hypocritical.


“refuse to lose” was coined by gordon,evernham and the rainbow warriors when they were on a tear of winning races and championships.


I am well aware of the history of the “refuse to lose” slogan and also of the fact that Gordon has not exemplified that attitude for years.

Bill B

Come on man,,, Kyle does kind of have rat features,,, beady eyes, a pointy nose, tight lipped mouth, and a personality to match.. he kind of reminds me of a thinner version of Lee Van Cleef (from the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns).

No one is saying he isn’t a great driver.


I think it is out of place for a writer to make fun of someone’s physical appearance, especially when that writer never posts a picture of himself. And there are plenty of other drivers who are not beauties, but Matt seems to have a special problem with Kyle – even complained once that he has moles. It’s just a way for Matt to air his personal bias and play to his own “fan base.”

Bill B

I guess I can see your point. I’ll just say that I have heard Kyle called a lot worse.

But he does look a little like Lee Van Cleef, doesn’t he?



Kevin in SoCal

If I ran the chase:

Top 5 drivers, last 5 tracks, boys have at it, anything goes. Just remember payback is a bitch.


How about no pitting during “debris” cautions?

I don’t think they got The Boss reference.

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