Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: NBC Disrespected Ross Chastain at Phoenix

I’ve never been a fan of the season finale weekend for NASCAR, dating all the way back to the early 1990s for multiple reasons.

One reason is that the championship is the only real focus of the race. It’s like nothing else matters. I felt irritated about that long before there were playoffs or the Chase in NASCAR. With this Championship 4 setup, it’s doubly annoying. I hoped all of last week that someone outside of the Championship 4 would take the fight to the championship contenders for once since it seems like barely anyone’s been able to do that under this format. We got just that on Sunday (Nov. 5).

While William Byron dominated early, leading the first 94 laps of the race, from that point on, the non-championship drivers came to the forefront. You had Kevin Harvick trying to go out on top. Chris Buescher won stage two before a bad pit stop dropped him down the order.

Then, you had Ross Chastain, who led 157 of 312 laps and won the whole thing.

See also
The Big 6: Questions Answered After Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney Come Up Hot in Phoenix

With Championship 4 drivers not leading the whole thing, you’d think that it could result in an adjustment in how the race was covered. In practice, that wasn’t really the case, or not as much as I thought there would be. There were times when non-championship drivers took the battle to the Championship 4 as Chastain did with Ryan Blaney. Blaney was apparently quite upset with how Chastain was racing him, claiming that Chastain blocked him 10 separate times.

This whole mess is one of the major reasons why I don’t like the playoffs and why I wish NASCAR ditched them. Why shouldn’t Chastain race Blaney for the lead? I’m sick of everyone all but moving over for the Championship 4. They’re not entitled to that kind of treatment and should never get it.

Having said that, there were times, especially early on, when non-championship drivers got a fair amount of focus. This race really wasn’t all that exciting during the first 100 laps, so NBC felt the need to compensate.

The blown brake rotor that ended Christopher Bell’s day occurred during a commercial break. When it came out of the break, this was how NBC handled the incident at first

In addition to the above clip, Steve Letarte made use of the virtual cutaway car to explain what happened to cause this failure. It seems like they’re using less air to cool the brakes these days on the Next Gen car. Compared to the issues we had at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, it doesn’t seem like it was the same root cause even though the result was the same.

The one thing that wasn’t covered here so much was how brake bias played a role here. Bell and his crew chief talked on the radio about needing more braking ability. What I don’t know is where Bell had his brake bias. My guess is that he might have had too much front bias, leading to the failure. Regardless, it’s another thing to look out for going forward.

It’s a terrible shame what happened to Bell, but he took the loss like a professional. Do I think it would gain him fans? I don’t know. Maybe.

See also
Faulty Brakes Stop Christopher Bell's Title Bid Right in Its Tracks

As compared to Martinsville Speedway, there wasn’t that big of a difference between this year’s race and last year’s. In Martinsville, there was a 90% increase in passing over last year. At Phoenix, it was more like 10% percent, but that passing was generated differently. The track did not put down any PJ1 TrackBite, yet you still had multiple grooves. That was something that the booth did comment on during the race as being great to see. Hopefully, that means that we’ve seen the last of the TrackBite at Phoenix.

Pre-race coverage was also very much focused on the Championship 4. We also had a nice feature on Harvick and his memories of his career. I really liked the Harvick piece.

Post-race coverage was admittedly fairly typical for a championship race. We got interviews with the three championship contenders who finished along with race winner Chastain. We also had some time with Harvick since his career just concluded.

How did NBC handle Chastain’s victory Sunday? Not particularly all that well. I get that it’s the final race of the year, but I think that Chastain deserved more respect than he received.

This was Chastain’s post-race celebration on Sunday. You didn’t see this as the broadcast was solely focused on Blaney. In fact, it was roughly 15 minutes before you heard from Chastain in victory lane. To be fair, I think NBC was a little better here than the treatment that Christian Eckes got Friday night (Nov. 3) on FOX Sports 1 after the ugly Craftsman Truck Series title race. Both Eckes and teammate Jake Garcia all but got ignored on a historic night for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing.

Overall, I knew what to expect coming into Sunday’s race from Phoenix and I wasn’t particularly surprised. The Championship 4 got the lion’s share of the coverage. I would have been shocked if that didn’t happen.

However, that Championship 4 coverage often came at the expense of everything else that was going on. There are more than four drivers on the track. NBC should always realize that. Yes, there was coverage of on-track incidents, but that was fairly minimal outside of Bell’s trouble.

I don’t like how Chastain was treated after the race. He was an afterthought, even though he won the race and led more than half of it. That’s a travesty and I don’t want to see that going forward.

See also
Up to Speed: Ryan Blaney on Top, Ross Chastain on the Rise

That’s all for this week. Next weekend is a very quiet weekend in the world of racing. Of the series that we cover at Frontstretch, only Formula 1 is still going and it’s off. The only major outfit in action this weekend is MotoGP, which will be racing at Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. There will be additional programming available for your pleasure as well, such as the Fall Brawl at Hickory Motor Speedway. TV listings can be found here.

In next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch, we’re going to wrap up the 2023 season for NASCAR’s TV partners. In the Frontstretch Newsletter, we’re going to have separate articles on both the Craftsman 150 and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race from Phoenix. The Truck Series race, in particular, was rather ridiculous.

If you have a gripe with me or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below. Even though I can’t always respond, I do read your comments. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

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As always, if you choose to contact a network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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Kevin.

You are 100% correct. Chastain deserved much more coverage. Blaney did a great job and deserved the title. But damn the cry baby approach didn’t suit him well. It is called a race for a reason. If you want others to just move over then run the 4 guys alone and settle it. Blaney sounded as if he owned the track and how dare Ross race him hard. There was no contact, sure he messed with Blaney’s air but Chastain was there to race. He did not touch Blaney. It takes a lot more than 4 guys to run a Cup race so why not be fair in the coverage. Thanks.

Donna

Absolutely agree 💯%

Trisha

Very well spoken, it’s a race to win.

Marie

I agree with Kevin

DoninAjax

I was watching the interview with Blaney and kept waiting for the interview with Chastain. I imagine the network was expecting the winner of the title to win the event and didn’t count on an outsider to actually win it. They had planned in the morning meeting to concentrate on the title holder instead of the actual winner. They should have concentrated on the winner and sent the title holder to a special area for the interviews and pictures.

Hobbs, Carroll

They do that! Winner of race goes to winners circle champ goes to other place!

Mike Kalasnik

FOX & NBC did the same Fri & Sat. If I was a driver, the race I DONT want to win is the final one. Its meaningless. Sadly this wont change as long as the format stays the same.

Kevork

I am a Ross Chastain fan and I was also a little upset that NBC showed the lack of professionalism by not showing Chastain’s winning celebration.
Whether you like him or not, some fans want to see the Watermelon 🍉 Smash. He deserved more. As for Blaney, I’ve lost what little respect I’ve ever had for him because of his post race comments regarding how Chastain was racing him. Chastain did nothing wrong. He raced Blaney clean and dominated that Phoenix race. He deserved the win. He deserved more respect from the NBC broadcast team. At least Dale Earnhardt Jr. went down to Chastain’s pick and joined the winning celebration with Ross.
I truly believe Jr is a fan of Chastain’s and that means more than NBC’s feelings about him.
Great Job Ross this weekend. You deserved that win.
Total domination “Melon Man”

Donna

You are so right! I love Chastain, now that Harvick is retired Ross is my new favorite driver. He deserved a lot more recognition than NBC gave him. He did his job Sunday: he ran a fantastic race and won! I lost a lot of respect for Blaney. Crybabies shouldn’t race in NASCAR.

Tired

You mean the dude who held up the champion? He drives like a jerk and got exactly what he deserved.

Amber

Ross raced blaney dirty and needs to get over it….

Trisha

NBC don’t like Republicans, very sad.

sb

NBC could have shown the ‘double burnouts’ that were happening…but they didn’t. With the ‘contenders’ running nose to tail most of the race, they could have shown a lot more action elsewhere…but they didn’t. How long did it take them to mention that Kes got back to the track after welcoming his new son? Way too long. I was very impressed with Blaney’s drive…but again, too many cars just get out of the way of the ‘contenders. This is the attitude that made me give up my season tickets to Bristol…when they were still hard to get. Felt badly for Chastain being relegated to an afterthought. Really, until about the last 20 laps, when the decision of the winner actually happens, there is no reason to put all the emphasis on the top 4. very disappointing.

Hobbs, Carroll

Funny I watched the race and don’t remember seeing any other drivers just getting out of the way, I record and rewatch the races midweek so I’ll be looking for those getting out of the way drivers, cars a lap or laps down move over but I don’t remember seeing what you claim!

Bill B

OK.. Perhaps you are looking at it too literally. Don’t look for guys getting out of the way, but when you see one of the chosen four pass someone, ask yourself, “Would the pass have been that easy in April?”.

jdquick

This whole mess is one of the major reasons why I don’t like the playoffs and why I wish NASCAR ditched them. Why shouldn’t Chastain race Blaney for the lead? I’m sick of everyone all but moving over for the Championship 4. They’re not entitled to that kind of treatment and should never get it.

Agree 100% Phil. Great statement. They all got sponsors that have paid for that privilege to be on the car and the drivers should race for the win, not allowing the haha “championship 4” any free rides.

Hobbs, Carroll

It wasn’t the fact of the 1 car racing Blaney for the lead it was the aggressive blocking by the 1 car to keep the lead, would the 1 car have booted Blaney out of the way ifin he was leading the race an blocking the 1 car as aggressively, any other race n Blaney would have booted the 1 into the wall, but Blaney dosen’t race that way and as his crew kept saying big picture big picture, nobody not even Blaney expected Ross to just move over but block him 10 or more times so aggressively just hold your line, Ross was making moves that could have took them both out, no air on these lil spoilers creates a different beast with the guy leading as does the dirty air on the car behind the blocking leader, how many times did Blaney have to check up to keep from spinning the 1 car, if that was the first race of the season at that track the 1 would’ve been on the hook hence his lack of respect in the

Darryl

Quit whining about Ross. He just raced clean and hard. Blaney got beside him several times and Ross raced him clean and fair. Blaney was crying so much it made him look bad. Blaney knocked Ross hard from behind in one corner, and he still was not able to get around him. What a whiney azz champion. Not a good look. Ross was the better driver on Sunday.

sb

Good Grief people! Blaney was frustrated. Chastain had the lead. Would you have been happier if they took each other out? Or is good, hard racing not your style? Blaney griped about Chastian. When does that NOT happen, especially in the middle of a try for the title. Yes, he bumped Ross hard…but he didn’t wreck him. frankly, I was tickled to see a driver on tap for the title keep racing hard all the way to the finish instead of just cruising. After the race they both had a good laugh about it. Chill out!

Paul

We must of been watching a different race. I only saw Chastain block him 2 times and Chastain had the faster car, that is why cry baby Blaney wasn’t able to catch him.

Chantal

Exactly 💯

Johnnyjet

Talk about being bias

Nobody

Everyone knows this is going to happen. Get over it. Its the last race and usually isn’t an issue unless the non-title racers are leading.

janice

here’s a thought, next year just have the final 4 racing, since they want the rest of the field to move out of their way and not race them.

i felt bad for chastain. of course he spoiled na$car’s story line by winning the race, but you know it’s a race. i kept waiting for the double burnout to be shown. i also kept waiting for blaney’s dad to be shown congratulating his son. never did see that. they did mentioned that ryan’s family was there.

a few weeks rest after the holiday hoopla and it will all be starting back up. what can we expect in 2024? more of less the same i think.

gbvette

The network coverage of the championship race really hasn’t changed much, they’ve always spent way to much time covering the contenders. The difference is years ago there were usually only 2 drivers battling for the title, while now there are 4, doubling the number of contenders to cover and making it even easier for the booth to ignore the rest of the field.

How is it that the networks can give even coverage to the championship Indycar, F1 and IMSA races, and such lopsided coverage to the NASCAR ones. I suspect part of it may be that NASCAR puts too much emphasis on the championship, and with 4 or 5 former drivers and crew members covering the race, winning the championship is more important in their collective minds, then the race itself.

Since I personally don’t like silly post race celebrations, I was happy to miss one of the burnouts and not to have to watch a poor innocent melon give up it’s life (I can’t believe he brings a melon to every race in hopes he’ll win and get to smash it).

Dawg

When you have drivers that have a good finish in the Daytona 500, talking about having a good points day, what would we expect?

If anyone else remembers when Terry Labonte won the Championship, brother Bobby won the race, & the coverage was about the same as this year.

The Championship winner is always going to be the Big Cheese.

If someone else wins the race, they may not be chopped liver, but definitely second class.

CCcolorado

The effects of Brian the Bum will linger for years. TV networks won’t change their coverage despite the pleas of the “real” race fans. Heck, somehow we’ve been brainwashed into to thinking that boogered up farce of a road course Roval, is acceptable!
Hopefully next year we can get more than the pitiful 20 minutes of practice we got this year and less of anything Waltrip related.
Thanks for the efforts Phil, appreciate the opportunity to chime in with my 2 cents worth.

Stacy

TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOUR STANCE!! I also hate that ALL other must ‘move over’ for the championship contenders. Last time I looked, it’s still a race and ALL drivers are trying to win that particular race. And to not do a very professional and celebratory final interview with the man that brought NASCAR from one of it’s darkest days in it’s history to becoming one of the winningest, most colorful and most genuine drivers this sport has seen in it’s ’75 Year History’ is beyond disgraceful!!

I WILL FOREVER BE A HAPPY HARVCK FAN!!!

Daytona-520

Either you have a very strange take on Aric Almirola or you turned off the post-race coverage just so you could complain about something NBC did…

Bobby DK

Kevin Harvick got his goodbye interview. Wish they got a few seconds with Aric Almorola.

Hobbs, Carroll

Ah, the race is about the Championship 4, I remember back in the day when points decided the champ, yes a champ might be crowned 2 or 3 races before season is over but the race coverage was still about winning the race, some champ races still came down to the last lap, Elliott Kulwicki duel, several others, that those final bonus points decided the champ, drop the chase, new fans kinda like it but us ole school don’t, it’s not that were old school it’s just not racing the way it outta be!

Sheri

I too do not like how they shun Ross Chastain not just the last race but all along they ignore him or put him down. I personally think back when Rick Hendrick met with Ross in a meeting which was kept between them, he sent the word to NASCAR to no longer cover Ross’ accomplishments. He has the money to do so and NASCAR would bow down to him. But yet they will praise other driver’s that are not as good as Ross. Irritating to say the least.

Daytona-520

Nah, Ross started running like shit after that meeting, hard to cover a guy running 15th on a weekly basis. I wonder what Hendrick told him to make him start running so bad.

Echo

They covered bubba running twice that bad. It wasn’t hard.

TiminPayson

Surprised they couldn’t find an excuse to interview Chase.

janice

i saw a pic of him on stage with ryan and the trophy.

Brian

I thought that Dale and Jeff were pro Larson. Toward the end all they talked about was what Larson had to do to beat Blaney. Never mentioned what Blaney had to do to stay ahead of Larson.
And poor Chastain. Win a race and no one cares

Kevin L

BFD.

Conrad

NBC is awful they have Alvin and the chipmunks doing play by play
I’m referring to the high pitched voices of Jeff Burton and Jr etc. Too much yapping and over and repetitive explanations

Tim

Being a huge Jr fan it pains me to say that I have to agree. Jand J show is SUPER annoying and I find myself screaming at the TV “Just shut up already” The very best coverage is when they do Radio style and have Bagman and Moody on.

CCcolorado

Good one… Alvin and the Chipmunks! My wife hates those 2 screeching voices. You’d think the NBC execs would hear what we are subjected to. Yes they offer good info.. at times .. but my gosh, it comes at a price.

Kevin in SoCal

JR’s fan base won’t let him go anywhere, and Burton has great knowledge and insight to the sport, I hope he doesn’t go anywhere either. But the coverage is so much better during those one or two races that Dale Jr isn’t there.

DoninAjax

Emperor Brian must have fallen off his bar stool when he saw an outsider win the event. If he cared enough to watch. No matter how much NA$CAR still tries, a driver still doesn’t have to win the last event to get the title.

MarkM

Brian France hasn’t bern involved with NASCAR since 2018, that’s 5 years. Perhaps you need a new “boogeyman” to blame all your percieved shortcomings about the sport on.

Last edited 7 months ago by MarkM
DoninAjax

Too many decisions have Brian’s stamp all over them since he “left.” His sycophants are still there making “brilliant” decisions.

CCcolorado

Totally agree!!!

Kathy Gassen

Thank you very much for your comments. My sentiments exactly especially as it relates to Chastain. He is not my favorite driver but he deserved respect for winning and not 15 minutes after the fact.

Butch

I agree completely with this whole article. NBC owes Ross a BIG apology. It was very demeaning to see him treated this way.

Chantal

hopefully on racehub they’ll have a Ross segment with the watermelon smash …let’s see

Michael Price

I agree wholeheartedly that they dissed Ross. I think the powers that be have a little distain for Chastain lol. I loved his post race press conference where he basically came out and said he didn’t give 2 f-cks about the championship and he was there to win. He went on to explain how he wasn’t going to get dirty other than creating dirty air. I hope he can win it all in the next couple of years!

Bill B

I’d really like to know how NASCAR’s leadership felt about Chastain winning. It kind of muddies up their vision of the championship race. I doubt we will ever hear anything one way or the other, but it would be nice to know. I bet they liked Ross racing Blaney hard even less than Blaney did.

Jill

Everything is Chastain’s fault! WHY would he be racing if he was just going to step aside for the 4? NO SIR. This is a race and if you can’t win- then you can’t win! Ross blocked him 10 times??? Boo hoo ya big sissy. You hit him? I recall many post race tantrums when Ross apologized for hitting someone and was
Crucified! You do it on purpose and laugh about it?
You may have won the Championship Blaney, but you are just another on the long (and increasing) list of NASCAR sissies who cry because “Ross did ______”. It’s racing boys. Take off your ruffled panties for goodness sakes.
NBC coverage was as I expected. If you aren’t one of the golden boys- you don’t count.

Ryan

Ross Chastain deserves zero respect. He’s the most hated driver in NASCAR for a reason. He’d wreck every car (and has) in the field and blame them.

DoninAjax

Don’t you mean Denny?

David

Ryan
Your wrong you know it too. Ross is the only driver when interviewing doesn’t blame someone and if he does have contact with someone he owns it. I remember when Denny admitted taken out Ross he was fined and points taken away. Now NASCAR has to do Denny right and do penalties on Ryan Blaney. That’s only fair I see, Ryan already showed he not a mature champion. Really I wanted Ryan to win over everyone but now I wished he didn’t.

Millie

Ur the best, who cares what they say. All drivers should speak up just like u did. Yes ur rite they put all the attention on Ryan, that stinks. Chastain, keep up the good work. Ryan cry baby.

Gary F.

The ‘Playoffs’ and ‘Chase’ are as artificial and phoney as reality and bachelor/-ette TV programming. The same minds that came up with essentially eliminating the majority of contenders at ‘playoff’ time are the same ones that invented the ‘lucky dog’ rule. Yellow flags that tempted panic racing to stay on the lead lap was eliminated by the rule. Good idea? Next, implement ‘Stage Racing’ where now there are two additional artificial yellows where at least 11 drivers are scrambling to get that one more point that could keep them above the ‘cut line’ and still alive to not get eliminated during the ‘Chase’. Just crap! Race! Start at the green flag, win at the checkered flag! Seems to work for Indycar, F1, IMSA, SCCA, and on and on and on…

Tee

I don’t know how Blaney thought he deserved to win. I thought the 3 other top champions were just as great as Blaney. And they didn’t complain the entire race. They were so much more professional than Blaney. I have loved to watch Ross race when he was in the infinity race. Wish he would race like he did then.

Chantal

I am still mad unreal how he was treated waiting 5 minutes in the car no media came he had to do everything himself he’s a racer he won the race and deserves the respect!!!! Lost alot of respect for the no media coverage and Blaney treating him like he should just let him go. No Ross was better he couldn’t catch him. Glad his intimidation tactics didn’t work. Glad you’ll be talking about this issue. They could of atleast put it in racehub!!! Everyone sees it online but nope they decide to ignore what we Ross Fans have been waiting for all year the watermelon Smash!!

Al

BRING BACK THE TRADITIONAL POINT SYSTEM!!!! NASCAR IS NOT AND CAN NOT BE LIKE OTHER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS UNTIL YOU HAVE 32 TEAMS PLAYING IN THE WORLD SERIES, SUPERBOWL, STANLEY CUP AND NBA FINALS!!
NASCAR NEEDS TO BE DIFFERENT!! I AM, WAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE AGAINST “PLAYOFFS” IN RACING!! BRING BACK TRADITIONAL POINTS SYSTEM AND YOU WILL SEE THAT IT WILL BE CLOSER THAN MOST THINK!!!!

Merline Hatfield

You were spot on! Chastain deserved so much more. He was over shadowed by the championship. I could only imagine how he felt. Poor decision by any TV network!

Steve

I swear nascar is more like fake wrestling now days, its become a joke and a farse so setup and phoney, it must be embaresing to the old school drivers to even compete or show up at the track. I started following nascar in the mid 70s but im done with this BS.

DoninAjax

Vince McMahon is Brian France’s hero. It seems Vince gave Brian a lot of ideas to improve the product and there are a lot of WWE characters at the examples of the entertainment product.

Pat Walsh

I agree with lack of coverage of Chastain. I am so very thankful that Taylor Swift is not dating a nascar driver, can you imagine?

Jeremy

Especially if she was dating Bubba! You’d have a whole season where nobody would know the cars were ever on the track.

Donnie

I disagree, they race all season to win a championship. Who really cares who won a race that just doesn’t mean anything. And I am glad that he did win.

Amber

No ross Chastain didn’t need to get any coverage…

Blaney winning the championship was FANTASTIC…

AND THERE FOR should get more coverage…

RJH

Nothing new here, happened 10 years ago and in ’92.
Elliott won the race and Kulwicki won the Championship.
Some folks are just frustrated that Ford has great teams in all 3 series and won ALL the Championships. bowties R outta style.

DoninAjax

What would the story line be if Blaney had punted Chastain out of the way and won the last example of Brian’s product?

Jeremy

Probably nothing. The story line would be “Chastain was holding up Blaney, who ‘moved’ him out of the way to secure the win and championship.” If Chastain hits the wall, there would be a lame apology “I wasn’t trying to wreck him…” and that would be it. Perhaps there would actually be more scorn for Chastain having the audacity to not pull over and let the championship leaders battle amongst themselves?

DoninAjax

I think it would have been “Well, Ross has won that way.” Like I always say: If you (and your fans) are happy to win with the bumper you (and your fans) better not complain when you lose with the bumper.

Biff

It’s always been that way fir a championship race. I’ve always felt badly fir the winner of the last race of the year, but it is what it is. A champion gets crowned and if the winner isn’t a contender, he doesn’t get too much TV time. This year doesn’t hurt my feelings too much. Ross wrecked my boy Elliott at Phoenix while he had the lead on a restart last year. When Chastain learns to stop running over people, I’ll respect him a bit more.

Al

When Nascar came up with the dumb playoffs system they said “Winning is gonna mean something more and be more important than ever.” Well, they just slammed the door on that statement!!!! Winning meant nothing at Phoenix and the SEASON’S CHAMPIONSHIP regardless how they got there is WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN JUST WINNING A RACE!!!! Throw away “any playoff system” and bring back the TRADITIONAL POINTS SYSTEM!!!! Oh, while we’re at it DO AWAY WITH THE USELESS STAGES TOO!!!!

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