Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Upside Down

Dale Earnhardt Jr.               Keselowski hits wall at Kansas

Photos: Racing and wrecking in Contender Round opener              



Pos. Driver +/-
1 Joey Logano --
2 Kyle Busch +19
3 Carl Edwards +16
4 Ryan Newman +16
5 Denny Hamlin +14
6 Kevin Harvick +10
7 Matt Kenseth +8
8 Jeff Gordon +8
9 Kasey Kahne -8
10 Brad Keselowski -22
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -25
12 Jimmie Johnson -27


Well, hell's bells, Kansas sure turned out to be a low blow for a lot of people (including me). It more or less flipped the Chase standings chart upside down. Who'd a thunk that after one race in the Contender round, Jimmie would be 12th and Dale Jr would be 11th and Brad Keselowski would be 10th? That means they'd better kick ass in Charlotte because after that, it's the dreaded Talladega and who knows when disaster might strike there? The only safe place to be is where Joey is right now or standing with a W in the win column after Charlotte next week.

I'm trying to decide if I like this type of elimination format and I don't really think I do (and honestly, I'd be saying that even if Jimmie was number one right now). In my opinion, the NASCAR championship should require an equal balance of wins and consistency. Perhaps, before the Chase, there was too much emphasis on consistency and not enough on wins but I think, NASCAR has gone too far the other way now.

The top twelve drivers this season going into the Chase were the class of the field all year long. I would rather see them race for the Championship through ten races than be eliminated, perhaps by a fluke.

For instance, Jimmie and Junior and Brad have been in the top five in points all year yet now they are the bottom three in the rankings. This round has two potential wild cards, Kansas (which certainly turned out to be) and Talladega. If any or all of these all-year-long top drivers goes winless in this round, coupled with another bad (or even just semi-bad) race, they're out. I don't want to see drivers like Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin - who've all had mediocre years and got into the Chase by the skin of their teeth racing for the title instead of the teams that had superior performance all season.

So, that's my 2 cents worth on this Chase format and that is about what my opinion is worth....maybe even only 1 cent.

The bright spot of the race for me was another sterling run by Kyle Larson. Oh, I was so hoping he would catch and pass Joey. I am anxiously waiting for the day this kid finally pulls into Victory Lane. I am hoping it will happen this year.

I watched the Nationwide race only until it was taken over by a Sprint Cup driver and then I muted it, only checking in now and then to see if anyone else had taken the lead. If it wasn't for Chase Elliott, I would have completely lost interest in this series.

At first it seemed as though David Ragan was the top candidate for the seat in the 9 car when Marco Ambrose goes back to Australia next year but now it appears that Sam Hornish, Jr. has the upper hand. This seems to me to be simply trading one driver who has never got his head around NASCAR for another. Both Marcos and Sam are good but not great in this series as they were in their previous ones.

Any how, Kansas was a bummer in the scheme of things, as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully, Charlotte will be better.