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Monday, July 26, 2010

Giving Chase drivers a mulligan would tighten points battle

How do you create a better Chase?

I would say prohibit Jimmie Johnson from competing, but that wouldn’t be exactly fair.

Instead, other scenarios are being thrown around that aim to spice up the action and create better racing and points battles.
They often involve an interesting word: Elimination

This kind of scenario could involve, for example, kicking out five drivers after a few races, then one driver each race leading up to the final event.

"We want to make sure (the Chase) is giving us the biggest impact moments it was designed to do," France said recently. "Everything, to us, means pushing the winning envelope to mean what it needs to mean in our sport. We're happy with the Chase, (but) if we can enhance it in a pretty significant way, we may do that."

He elaborated at Indy, saying: "Regarding the options that we have on the table, the only ones we would consider are ones that would make winning at a given moment more important than they are today. How do you do that? There's a number of ways to do that. It comes with some version as you go along where certain races in the Chase, you have to win or do very, very well, to in fact move on.”

This is an interesting scenario, and would definitely make the drivers a little more antsy to get to the front, and we will find out soon enough if it actually comes to be. If it does, the quality of racing in the Chase should improve.

As far as the points battle, which is not usually tight come Homestead, I would say the only way to truly tighten up the points would be to allow a mulligan. I doubt this will happen, but if each driver was allowed to throw out their worst finish in the Chase, then heading into the final race we would probably have a handful of drivers competing for the title.

I also support the possibility of including a road course in the Chase. The champion should have to prove their road course skills to take the title. I also think more points should be awarded for winning, as this will force drivers to race harder for the win and increase the quality of the racing.

Stewart: Irwin would have been a champ
10 years after the death of Kenny Irwin Jr. in an accident at New Hamphire, Tony Stewart says NASCAR fans were robbed of a chance to see him do great things on the track.

“If Kenny (Irwin) were still alive, he would have won at least one championship by now if not more. I got the honor and privilege of racing with him every week and he was tough. He was one of the best. He was one of the best that I’ve ever raced against and we lost him at the wrong time for sure. He’s a guy that we never got to see. I got to see everything and got to see his full potential, but the NASCAR community never got to see his full potential.”

Fastest going last good idea for qualifying
While I’m not usually a big fan of the track, I’m looking forward to seeing how the Truck series race at Pocono will turn out. Even qualifying will be unique, as the revised procedure will allow for several trucks to be on track qualifying at the same time. In addition, the order of qualifying will be based on practice, with slower trucks going first and faster trucks going last. So up to the end of qualifying, you’re likely to see new names jumping to the top of the leader board.
Actually, that setup with the faster rides going last sounds like a very cool thing to do on the Cup end at some point in the future. Qualifying for the Truck series race will be televised on SPEED at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 31, from Pocono.

Download classic races
In a very cool move to those of us interested in NASCAR’s history, it was recently announced that classic races and historical content will now be available for download from iTunes. “NASCAR Classic Races, Volume 1” is currently available on iTunes and pays homage to the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, including Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson and Richard Petty. There are seven episodes – available for $1.99 each or $7.99 for the entire package -- including the highlights of five of Earnhardt’s most famous wins (1998 Daytona 500, 1999 Goody’s 500, 2000 Winston 500, 1989 Southern 500, 1984 Talladega 500), plus “The Junior Johnson Story” and a Richard Petty documentary. More content is promised in the future. Visit for more information.

Red Bull to decide on Speed
The fate of Scott Speed will soon be announced, as least as far as his future with Red Bull Racing. Speed drove a Formula 1 ride for the team before coming to NASCAR, and has had a rough go of it at the Cup level, but they are probably going to stick with him.

In all honesty, he’s the only sure thing they have. Brian Vickers should return next season, but after his health issues and taking time off, who knows how effective he will be? Speed has shown flashes of greatness, though not as often as the team would like, but unless they could steal a solid driver away from another team – perhaps Marcos Ambrose – I don’t see how they’re going to get anybody much better than Speed. I’m guessing he’s going to stay right where he is. As they say, better the devil you know …

RPM likely to downsize
Among the teams likely to see the most change in the offseason is Richard Petty Motorsports. Kasey Kahne is leaving, so that car is pretty much gone. That leaves A.J. Allmendinger, who the team is hoping will return along with sponsor Best Buy. They also hope Paul Menard and his daddy’s money stay with the team. If those two cars stay – and that’s still a big “if” – that may be all the team fields, cutting its entries in half. There are also rumors Menard will depart, taking his sponsorship to RCR for a fourth team – though I would hope Childress might rethink that considering the disaster that happened last year when he had four teams. And Allmendinger is allegedly talking to other teams, such as Penske Racing (where the future of Sam Hornish Jr. is very much in doubt).

If the Dinger leaves and Menard bolts, will RPM fade into the night and not exist at all? I hope not, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. However it shakes out, RPM is most definitely going to look a lot different in 2011, it it’s there at all.

Baby parade continues
Congrats to the ever-growing list of expecting NASCAR parents. The newest on the list are Ryan Newman, whose wife is now pregnant, and Sam Hornish Jr., whose wife is expecting their second child.

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