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Sunday, October 18, 2009

In theory, the Chase is thrilling … in reality, I can hardly stay awake

It’s funny how one’s vision of how something will play out doesn’t always end up working out.

For example, I remember reading in college about the ideas of communism as expressed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their Communist Manifesto, and on paper the theory made sense. Everyone would be equally well off, help each other out when help was needed, and there would be no class structure or oppression.

The problem came when applying these concepts to real life, and humans got involved. True, everyone was equal, but they were all equally poor, and there was still a powerful government oppressing this mass of poor people in every country where communism was adopted.

I’m not comparing NASCAR to communism (actually, it’s more like a monarchy, with King Brian France), but the analogy of concept vs. reality can be applied to the current state of the Chase for the Cup in NASCAR.

In theory, on paper, the Chase is a great idea. Everyone gets bunched up with 10 races to go, and that makes it very likely that come Homestead, several drivers will still be in the hunt for the title and it will be an exciting finale.

In reality, when human beings (specifically Jimmie Johnson) get involved, the #48 team is making a mockery out of the Chase and completely undermining its purpose, which was to create tighter points battles for the championship.

Let’s put things in perspective: Jimmie Johnson won his 17th Chase race Saturday night, out of 55 that have been held.

I’m not sure if he’s just sandbagging all year or if he just tries extra hard in the Chase, but Johnson doesn't have bad days in these races that decide the title.

Everyone else does (see Juan Pablo Montoya , Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin on Saturday night alone, for example). But Johnson doesn’t. The few times in the history of the Chase that he’s had missteps, they’ve come early in the Chase and he was able to overcome them and still win his titles.

This weekend was just ridiculous, as the #48 team led all three practices, won the pole and won the race. It was the perfect weekend, a goal long-sought by crew chief Chad Knaus. The fact that Knaus even had that goal to begin with shows you how good this team has become … as he actually believed he could do it, for good reason.

The first year of the Chase was pretty close to the vision, with Kurt Busch winning a thriller of a battle despite getting into trouble at Homestead. He had a tire go down, but just happened to be right at pit lane entry when it happened. Had he been anywhere else on the track, the title would not have been his.

But since Johnson took over the Chase and claimed it as his own, the rest of the field has been playing catchup. Now that he is 90 points ahead of Mark Martin and 135 points or more ahead of everyone else, we might as well hand him the trophy right now. The other thing that might mix things up is if Johnson gets wrecked out at Talladega, but even that might not do the trick.

I can already write the script for Martinsville next week. Johnson will qualify top-5, run up front all day, lead a bunch of laps, and probably win the race, taking home yet another grandfather clock. I’m not much of a sports gambler, but if I was in Vegas that’s probably the safest bet in town.

I don’t have the magic cure to make the Chase interesting again. I can’t fault Johnson for winning so often, and deep down I should probably thank him because he’s definitely increased the amount of beauty sleep I’m getting on racedays.

But I do know one thing: Whatever Brian France and his cronies envisioned when they started the Chase, this isn’t it.


Blogger rick said...


October 18, 2009 at 2:31 AM 
Anonymous something fishy said...

how come they never get penalized for illegal cars? seems like everyone else does..look at carl long this season..expelled for the year due to illegal car in a non points race...yet hendricks skates by each about some parity NA$CAR. and get rid of these single file POS cars too

October 18, 2009 at 6:31 AM 
Anonymous Mïk said...

Man, history is being made here! JJ/chad does it as its supposed to be done.That's the definition of a champion.

The chase is better for the simple reason that Tony woulda clinched the trophy by now. Many times the championship run was concluded at Richmond. It's still close now, and THAT's better. Of course, that was perfect as football starts about then.

October 18, 2009 at 6:51 AM 
Anonymous JohnP said...

Mik, actually Tony would of been nowhere near clinching the title this year. By a long shot. Under the old points system Tony would be in first, Johnson in 2nd 117 points back. Jeff Gordon in 3rd 139 points back. The old points system are tracked right here on Jayski, as well as the new system. "check out race results". Tony earned all year to be in first, Johnson did not. It cheapens the Championship that only 10 races determine the winner. He will most likely win a 4th Championship by doing well in 40 races. Big deal. Earnheart, Petty and Gordon had to do good in 144 races to get the same four Championship. 4 years x 10 races =40 races. 4 years x 36 races = 144races. The Chase simply cheapens the meaning of the Championship. Drivers "championship win" can NOT be compaired from the old system to the new.

October 18, 2009 at 1:57 PM 
Blogger Sally said...

I'm sorry, but somehow, I just can't equate JJ winning 3 (maybe 4) titles under the chase format as equaling, much less surpassing, what Cale Yarborough did in winning 3 in a row over an entire season. I think this just proves that, when you try to get too gimmicky to make things more 'exciting', it can end up biting you in the you-know what.

October 18, 2009 at 2:14 PM 
Blogger GinaV24 said...

Nope, not thrilling at all, as a matter of fact, boring is the best word to describe the "chase". Johnson will be a 4X chase trophy winner, not a 4X champion.

I have tickets to Martinsville next weekend but I'm not sure that I'm actually going to bother to go. I can stay home and get some yardwork done instead of watching the 48 show.

October 18, 2009 at 4:07 PM 
Anonymous JohnP said...

Mik, Your simply ignoring the fact that Tony WOULD NOT of clinched the trophy. A trophy can't be "clinched" in the old, or new point system with only a 117 point difference, and five races left to go. It's all in the math. To argue otherwise is not logical.

October 19, 2009 at 6:37 AM 

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