Drivers weigh in on changing the Chase, more news and notes
FORT WORTH --
It's almost as if NASCAR is being urged to once again revise the rules just to make sure another driver other than Johnson wins the title in the future.
"At the end of the day, we all know we didn't get off to a good start. And we had to work very hard to be in this position," says Johnson, whose lead over
Johnson believes public opinion would have him "voted off the island." But this is racing and the championship is earned on the race track, not through a fan vote of text messaging.
"If nobody likes it, let's just have Sprint run an ad on TV and [fans] can text who they want to qualify on the pole and who they want to win the race and all these crazy things," Johnson said. "I mean it's really crazy. Racing is about earning your points and earning wins. We made an adjustment to the points system a few years back to make it more competitive. What else are we going to change?"
Think about it -- when the Chicago Bulls were winning six NBA championships in the 1990s, the NBA wasn't considering changing the way an NBA champion was decided. Moreover, the best team in the regular season doesn't always win the Super Bowl and the best college basketball team doesn't always make it to the Final Four, just as the best driver during NASCAR's regular season isn't going to win the Chase.
I agree with those who believe the best way to get a proper read on how the Chase plays out is over a five- to seven-year period. If after that time it appears broken, then make the necessary adjustments.
"How do we understand what to change and how to make it better if we can't watch it and look at it for seven years or eight years and see how it's working and really get a good look at how it is working and not working?" asks
"And by the way, this one is not over. I mean, I understand it looks like it's an undoable thing for everybody. I mean, how long have ya'll been hanging around this thing? Anything can happen. So let's don't write it off just yet."
"Why do you have to tweak it when a guy does good? That's what I don't understand," Gordon said. "I don't think that has anything to do with it. Here's a guy who didn't win the most races and wasn't leading it going into the Chase, and they've outperformed everybody."
"I'm a little ashamed of myself that I didn't know this already, but Jimmie Johnson makes it look so easy that we don't realize that he's not just a lucky guy who gets to drive Chad's car that's the best car on the race track," Martin said. "That's a little bit shallow of me to have thought that. The more I find out about Jimmie Johnson, the more I understand why he is experiencing the success that he does and that's kind of cool.
"Jimmie Johnson is incredibly committed. Jimmie is willing to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage on the competition, whether it's mental or physical or mechanical. I think that's really cool."
After two years of running a limited schedule, Martin will return to his own Chase for the Championship next season when he joins Johnson, Gordon and Earnhardt, Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports. But even if Martin never wins a Cup championship and Johnson wins three more, Martin believes way too much focus is put on the Chase instead of the Race.
"One of the things that I take some issue with about this whole thing is to me, the points thing has been overplayed for 15 years," Martin said. "It is about the race. It's nothing about points to me. I don't race points. And I still come with every ounce of enthusiasm and I still have some fans out there that pull for me.
"So, I think the fans that go to Homestead are interested in seeing a race in person, honestly. I think the strategy to make more out of the racing series by making the points more important and paying more money and building more momentum and more media has worked; but at the end of the day, to many of us, it's more about the race than it is about the points."
So when Johnson wins his third straight title this season of if he should falter and Edwards wins the championship over the final two races of the year, just leave the Chase alone for a while before making any more changes.
That was the case in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. The 23-year-old, needing only a fifth place finish in the season-ending race to become Britain's first champion since
With championship rival
"Amazing, I can't even get my breath back," said Hamilton, a British native who's now the first black man to win the F1 World Championship. Remember, Hamilton lost last year's title by one point to Ferrari's
At 23 years and 301 days old, Hamilton broke the age record set by former McLaren team mate
"I feel like any of the other drivers that are out there, that it is a dream for me to get to Formula One," Hamilton said last year. "But what comes with it is that hopefully it can be of some influence, it can encourage other ethnic groups to get involved in the sport. It doesn't have to be just for one group of people, it can be for everyone.
"People that can relate to the path that I've taken will see that it's possible and will try also to get into the sport."
Tracy was the biggest name left without a ride when the IndyCar Series absorbed what was left of the Champ Car Series in February. Forsythe Racing decided not to join IndyCar and Tracy was unable to participate because he was under contract to the team. And when he was released from that contract, there were no prime IndyCar rides available.
In July he showed he still has the ability to drive an IndyCar when he finished fourth for Vision Racing in the street race at Edmonton. Tracy and team owner
That has Tracy actually considering the "R word" as in ... retirement.
"Something will shake out," Tracy said. "If it doesn't -- I don't want to retire, but if my career has come to an end I can say that I've achieved everything I've ever want to achieve. It comes to an end sooner or later for everybody. I would like to race another couple of years in IndyCar and maybe some endurance races.
"I proved what I can do at Edmonton, but it's tough now. Because of the economy there are only four teams in IndyCar that are flush with sponsors. It's a long offseason for them, so there is still time for things to happen. I'm talking to some people and we'll see what happens."
After the race, Gilliland was summoned to the NASCAR Transporter, where he was lectured on the incident.
"It's a shame we've got some tore up race cars and we got parked, but I got up in front of him -- my spotter said I was clear -- and I kind of slid up in front of him and he jacked my rear wheels off the ground going down the back straightaway and then got into me again going into turn one and two and jacked me up way up the track," Gilliland said. "I was trying to let him go and got a good run off the corner and just kind of misjudged it coming down across him. I was going to let him go, so I feel real bad for those guys."
Because of the crash, Montoya finished last in the 43-car race.
"I was running high the lap before and he went inside of me," Montoya said. "He ran straight to the wall and I tried to get away. He put me into the wall. So I went into Turn 1 and I punted him just a little bit to say, 'Hey, you're running like 50 laps behind.' I hit him a little bit. If I had wanted to wreck him, I would have wrecked him. He came out and just wrecked us. It's very disappointing. It has been great for everybody at Ganassi; we've got great cars now. It's just frustrating to have that happen.
"It was like he said I'm better than him, so I'm going to wreck him. The decent thing is not doing it, but if I had wrecked him, it would have been fine. It's frustrating when people do things like that."
It took a little bit of coaxing from Edwards' crew chief,
"I've never had Bob yell at me for going too fast, but he did tonight," Edwards said. "I just was so nervous that we were missing something. I thought there was no way we can go this slow, save this much fuel and still be leading the race. Of all the ways you can win a race, fuel mileage isn't the most exciting one. But we had the dominant car all day."
Jeff Gordon remains winless for the season and is closer to not winning at least one race per season since his rookie year in 1993. But he scored a first at Texas Motor Speedway when he won the pole on Friday and would finish second on Sunday.
"We're not going to give up, that's for sure," Gordon said. "I know it's late in the season, we haven't won yet, but that doesn't mean we're laying down. We're certainly not going to do that. It's just like going for the pole on Friday; we're doing everything we possibly can.
"I would be a little bit more excited about our chances if we had run up front and ran in that second position all night or all day. We are going to look at any possible way to win races. We're going to try to make the car go as fast as we can. When we have that opportunity to make it on fuel, you know, we're going to take the opportunity. That's what we did tonight.
"But I'm still disappointed that, you know, we struggled with the handling. I had my hands full. Some of it's me; some of it's the team and the setup. That's something we've got to work on coming back to Texas. But I look forward to the next two opportunities to try to win. Tonight's an obvious sign of we can still win. No matter how the car's running, we can still win. We'll go to the next two and do everything we can to try to win."
"He didn't say that when
"I call it hunting, but it's mostly just watching because I'm terrible. I try not to fall asleep in the tree stand. That's bad."
As the NASCAR season winds down, it's off to Phoenix for the next to last race of the season. The track is located in the middle of the desert with cactus trees, rattle snakes and even scorpions, so it's a good idea to watch where you step. But a trip to Phoenix is also a great excuse to eat some "real" Mexican food -- the hotter the better.
And I'm not talking about Taco Bell, either.