The checkered flag at Charlotte marked the halfway point of NASCAR's 26-race regular season. Already, talk has shifted toward playoff positioning, with seven men within 125 points of
But numbers don't do enough to sway a lion's share of detractors, angry over a system that shuts out winners in the name of consistency. Do their claims have merit? Let's address it while getting to as many of your e-mails as possible. If you don't get picked, please keep trying! Tbowles81@yahoo.com and Twitter
I get a trickle of these e-mails every week, no matter how good the finishes are. Tom's major gripe is echoed by many fans, that the playoffs either don't do enough to reward wins or shut out teams that visited Victory Lane during the regular season. It's hard to argue with the former: Right now, drivers who make the Chase get only a 10-point bonus for winning, the equivalent of just two positions on the race track. Even an extreme difference isn't enough to build more than a small cushion, giving the best driver the equivalent of a 3-0 advantage to start an NFL playoff game.
That's changed the way NASCAR teams approach the regular season. Teams spend the first half of the year trying to build a cushion inside the top 12, then take the second half to coast into the playoffs, using some races as test sessions while attempting to peak at the right time. It's not an unusual strategy, as teams in other major sports do the same thing. But considering NASCAR has just 36 races a year -- compared to the 80+ games in the NBA, NHL and 162 in MLB's regular season -- it's tough to see teams practicing that strategy for the better part of three months. Increasing the Chase win bonus to, say, 25 or 30, would put more emphasis on going for it at the end of regular season races.
As for the playoffs shutting out drivers who win, that's less of an issue in 2010 than in years past. At the halfway point,
Finally, people hate that the Chase obscures the other 31 cars who have to "field fill" for the final 10 races on the track. This problem could be solved by offering a $500,000 bonus to any non-Chaser who wins a playoff race. Extra money would lead to extra incentives for these cars to go all out, creating storylines and focus toward programs that otherwise get ignored.
Let's move on to the Indy 500 and one of its few NASCAR connections:
True. Add in speed shown by teammate
That's the opinion I'd side with. And let's not forget...
Right. This year has been a true test of her focus, one where she bit off more than she could chew with the NASCAR/IndyCar dual rides. I think the key is Texas this week, a second straight oval where she's had promising runs in the past. A top 10 there likely rights her season, while 11th or worse take the wind out of her Indy sails.
Moving on to racing's other Most Popular Driver...
A little background on Frank's claim: Earnhardt's ride was changed from No. 25 to No. 88 at the beginning of the 2008 season. That team is Hendrick's second-oldest, around since 1986 when
The curse theory has always been around, but gained steam over the last decade. Take a look at how each of the Hendrick teams have performed since
-No. 48: 50 wins, 122 top 5s, 187 top 10s with Jimmie Johnson
-No. 24: 24 wins, 121 top 5s, 177 top 10s with
-No. 5: 10 wins, 55 top 5s, and 103 top 10s with
-No. 25/88: 3 wins, 33 top 5s, 66 top 10s with
The numbers clearly show how Hendrick's now "fourth car" has lagged behind the curve. Is that because of a curse? Hardly. I'd say the No. 5 and 25/88 have always suffered as Hendrick houses the cars in a different shop than the 24/48. With Gordon and Johnson, you're dealing with two of the top 10 drivers ever to step into a stock car; chances are your other two programs are going to lag behind them. The one point I will make is Earnhardt didn't step into a program clicking on all cylinders. The 25 car was 15th in points in 2007, just one position ahead of where Earnhardt finished in his final season with DEI. That program needed to be built into a championship-contending team, but things haven't clicked for them to do so.
Well stated. I think the issue at hand is whether he still has the passion for it. Observing the No. 88 stall during the race Sunday, I came to the conclusion of "lifeless." They fed off the lack of confidence their driver exhibits week-to-week.
For Earnhardt to overcome this slump, it requires extra effort and determination. Time will tell whether he'll actually try to put that in.
And let's close with our usual "out of left field" e-mail of the week.
Bill, what race were you watching? The Charlotte race went green for the final 22 laps, and there were no drivers who flipped.
Time to go head to the pool. That's what June, July, and August is all about ...