Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lighten the Hell Up, Nascar Fans!

New qualifying rules! Maybe new points rules! Maybe new Chase rules! Go to the NASCAR sites and you'll see almost nothing but bitching in the comments. NASCAR can turn itself inside out to try to please its fans by trying to give them closer racing, more drama, whatever they say they want, but it doesn't matter.

The only thing the sanctioning body could do is turn the clock back to 1960 or 1970 or 1980 or whenever it was that racing was REAL. Tell the complainers that there were usually only a small number of competitive cars on the track back then and that races often finished with the leader being laps ahead of everyone else. Doesn't matter. They loved it then. Tell them that before the Chase, drivers often had the championship sewed up with four races left to go. Doesn't matter. They loved it then. Maybe if NASCAR could bring Dale Earnhardt back to life, they'd be appreciated but I'm not even sure about that.

Honestly, I've heard so many people bitch on Sirius about how boring qualifying is with single car runs, I figured knock-out qualifying would be a popular improvement but nope, they hate it. Turns out, they loved watching those cars go around the track one at a time. Who would have thought?

The attitude NASCAR fans have about Brian France reminds me a lot of the way conservatives feel about Obama (presumably, many of them are the same people). They don't have to actually listen to an idea. If it came from Brian France, they know they disagree passionately. Saves people from having to spend their brain power having to think, I guess.

And so many people hated Jimmie winning his sixth championship, I figured they'd like the winner-take-all at Homestead aspect of the Chase changes since it would put four drivers in the contest no matter how far ahead anyone might have been the old way. But they don't like that either.

Is it because those who love the sport whatever it is and will adapt to whatever rules changes NASCAR puts in effect aren't as likely to comment as the naysayers? Maybe. I rarely ever post because it seems my voice would be overwhelmed by the whiners. I have pretty much given up on the comment sections. I generally read a few, get disgusted and move on.

But, for the record, I will be watching. I'll be watching every race if they change the rules or if they don't change the rules. I'll be rooting for Jimmie but if he doesn't win, I can live with that too. I'll be watching if they keep the Chase or get rid of the Chase, if they keep qualifying the way it was or if they go with a different format, if they change the points or keep them the same.

I plan to simply ignore all the negativity.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's NASCAR's World, I Just Live In It


Once you get beyond 2 + 2 = 4, I become a math moron. I have a mental block about numbers. Trying to balance my checkbook is torture; figuring a budget is hell. I have a remarkable memory for history except that dates make my eyes glaze over. Thank heavens, by the time I got into real estate, you could buy calculators that automatically figured monthly payments if the balance was x and the interest rate was y and the term of the mortgage was z. It would not have been cool to tell prospective buyers, "oh, heck, I don't know, somewhere between $300 and $1,000."

So, you can see why I usually just shrug when NASCAR contemplates yet another change in the point system. It doesn't matter to me because I never understood the old point system. When I'm watching a race, I can't automatically figure - "let's see, he's 8th in points and he running third now so if no one else who is higher in points finishes ahead of him, he'll end up jumping up to fifth". No! I count on the announcers to tell me or I simply wait until the race is over and the standings flash on the screen. Everyone tried to convince me the last change made figuring points simpler but not for me.

Now the rumor is that NASCAR will be changing things up again. If what we read is true, there will now be sixteen drivers in the Chase. A win will automatically put you in. If there aren't sixteen different winners, they'll go by the highest in points among non-winners. There will be an elimination system in the final ten races with the field being cut by four after the third, sixth and ninth races, leaving the top four drivers to compete in a winner-take-all final race. Those four would be tied going into Homestead.

Someone who understands numbers better than I do (or who is smarter about computers) will have to tell us how that would have affected the Chase in previous years. I know that there were 13 winners in 2013. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch made it in without winning but with only 13 winners, they would have qualified under the new system based on points. Who would the other three have been? Well, David Ragan won a race but didn't make the Chase. So did Brian Vickers (a part-time driver in 2013). Martin Truex, Jr won but was taken out because of the fiasco at Richmond. Tony Stewart won but an injury took him completely off the track for the last part of the season. Denny Hamlin probably would have won a race if not for an accident that caused him to miss several races (he's never not won a race in any year and in fact, won the final race at Homestead). If Smoke and Denny had remained well, it's very possible they both would have made the Chase.

All in all, it doesn't appear to me that this part of the change would make that much difference in terms of who is in and who is out.

Neither does the elimination process. Drivers usually unofficially eliminate themselves as the Chase moves on anyway. But now, having them enter Homestead on a level playing field, that seems as if it could be a real game changer. No one will have the luxury of being able to coast having only to finish 23rd, or whatever, as Jimmie did last year to win the championship. I'm not sure I care for that concept. It seems to give too much influence to a single race but I suppose it would be that 7th inning moment Brian France is looking for.

All of this may simply be NASCAR floating a trial balloon to see what kind of reaction they get and may not ever come to pass.

It doesn't matter much to me either way. Let the sanctioning body do its thing. I'm a NASCAR fan. Put race cars on a track and I'll watch them. End of story.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Come On, February!


Okay, I watched Daytona testing off and on for hours. Most of the cars confined themselves to single car runs so it was pretty boring unless you were just so desperate to see racecars on the track after the long off-season, that you'd watch anything. I was happy to hear the voices of the old familiar Fox crew. It felt a little like coming home.

Judging by the Sprint Cup stats, Richard Childress Racing is coming out of the box hitting all cylinders. Hard to say for sure though since there was very little drafting and different teams may have had different agendas. Still I was happy to see Jimmie and Danica up there near the front. And it was fun to see both Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott behind the wheel again. 

In Nationwide, it was Junior Motorsports that dominated the top three spots in speed with Chase Elliott taking the lead. Again, as with RCR in Sprint Cup, we'll see if that holds up when actual racing starts. 

It seems that this year might be an especially interesting one. Granted, I came to NASCAR late in life but, at least in my time, I don't remember a year with quite so many shake-ups - new teams, new owners, new drivers, new crew chiefs, new rules, a little tweaking of the cars. And NASCAR has indicated that there will be a different way of qualifying, at least in the Truck and Nationwide series. We don't know yet if that will also include Cup.

So, there will be a lot of suspense in 2014. A great rookie field in all series, the first in a while for Cup. How ready to compete will Tony Stewart be? How will the fiery personalities of the whole SHR group meld? Will Steve LeTarte leaving Hendrick for a television slot in 2015 be a motivator for the 88 bunch? When will we find out who Junior's new crew chief will be? If Ron Malec (the 48's car chief) ever wants to make the jump to crew chief, this would seem the perfect opportunity. Will Brian Vickers remain healthy? We now know that NAPA is back in NASCAR. Hopefully, their pairing with Junior Motorsports, Hendrick and Chase Elliott will be a satisfying one for all concerned. Will Matt Kenseth suffer from the Coming-In-Second-in-the-Championship blues? Will Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing rebound from the hangover of the Richmond fiasco? 

We have a few more weeks to slog through before the cars come to the track for actual racing. All I can say is: come on February!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wishin' on 2014


Good old 2013 was a pretty good year as far as NASCAR was concerned. And although it really isn't nice to be my heart I'm  REVVIN' FOR SE7EN with Jimmie in 2014. If that doesn't happen, then I'm wishing for Junior to win his first Sprint Cup championship to prove all the doubters wrong, not to mention, automatically making it an especially memorable season for NASCAR - not to mention that he's a good guy and it would make him so happy - not to mention that he and Stevie have worked so hard to upgrade their program over the last few years.

Still in Cup, I'm wishing that Kyle Larson wins Rookie of the Year. That is probably unlikely because we all know that Pop-Pop will pull out all the stops for Austen. I'm not sure Ganassi has the resources to compete with a Richard Childress on a mission for his grandson.

I'm wishing a win for Danica in 2014 and in general, a improvement in her points position. I think she made decent progress last year but this season needs to show a jump in performance. (That's not only true for her but for SHR in general).

I'm wishing for a full recovery for Tony Stewart by Daytona and for a win in the 500, adding a huge milestone to his career. I'm also wishing that the Stewart-Haas team provides us as much drama as many expect them to.

I'm wishing that Martin Truex, Jr. does as well with Furniture Row as Kurt Busch did and that A.J. Allmendinger takes JTG Daugherty to a new level.

I'm hoping Brad Keselowski makes it back into the Chase in 2014. That team is certainly good enough. I think 2013 was an aberration....and there was maybe a bit of hubris about being the champion. Some people can handle accolades without becoming too full of themselves, like Jimmie. Brad, not so much. Now he'll have to be a scrapper again and that role suits him better.

In Nationwide, I'm wishing NASCAR would come down with a rule that Cup drivers cannot drive for their Cup teams. I'm not expecting it to happen....but I'm wishing. I'd love to see a bunch of newbies celebrating in Victory Lane.....instead of just Kyle and Joey and Brad.

I've never been as interested in the truck series as Nationwide and Cup but I think and wish this will be an exciting year with all the young faces like Brent Moffitt, John Hunter Nemecheck, German Quiroga, Darrell Wallace, Jr, Ben Kennedy, Ryan Bolaney, Max Gresham, Jeb Burton and others. I also wish for the rumors to be true about Nelson Piquet, Jr. running a full season for Joe Denette. I thought Turner-Scott yanked him away from trucks and put him in Nationwide just as he was hitting his stride and it retarded his progress.

In the IndyCar series, I wish Will Power, the perpetual bridesmaid, would finally win a championship.

In Formula 1, my heart is totally with Kimi Raikkonen.

So, there you have it. They aren't my predictions, because I'm terrible at predictions, but they are my wishes for the racing season of 2014..