Expanding the Chase field could do more harm than good for NASCAR
"I have got mixed feelings about expanding it to 15," team owner
A bigger Chase field, at least this year, would increase that all-so-vital drama over the final races before the Chase. A virtually insurmountable 117 points separates
Thirty-one teams have run a full Cup schedule this season, a number that would be pushed to 32 if
In the three Chases since the field was expanded, an 11th or 12th seed hasn't won a title, and only once did one make a dramatic push in the final standings as Bowyer rose from 12th to third in '07. You have to go back to the first Chase, when
Watering down the product with more teams may draw viewers to the likes of Atlanta and Richmond, but once the Chase begins, it would only feel like NASCAR is trying to parade around the most popular drivers, even if they don't have a legitimate chance at winning.
Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, I saw Papis come out of
It seems a little surreal considering Papis's Cup season has included 11 DNFs and one lead-lap finish. But there he was having his brain picked by two of the leading contenders for the Cup title. Remember, Papis was impressive in the Nationwide race at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and Harvick and J.J. could use some improvement as each has one career road-course win.
Of course, Papis likely has a motive of his own in sharing his thoughts on tracks that aren't part of the upcoming 10-race Chase that Harvick and Johnson are prepping for. Papis recently converted to driving full time in the trucks, and without a proven winner at Germain Racing to glean information from, he can't be faulted for working the garage to try to salvage his own career.
The Speedway Motorsports, Inc., owner said of NASCAR's tradition of ending the Cup schedule at Homestead, "If you're going to do a championship, you've got to do it at the proper place, and I don't think north Cuba is the proper place."
Smith says he'd rather the series end in Atlanta or Las Vegas, two of the nine tracks Speedway Motorsports owns, a list that doesn't include Homestead.
It's all more than a little self-serving, but I agree with Smith that Miami shouldn't host the season finale. Wouldn't the series be better served to be awarding its championship trophy at one of its more storied locations like Charlotte, Daytona or Talladega? Why schedule such a pivotal race at a location that seems ambivalent to the sport?
It's just too bad Smith couldn't have made that point without coming off as xenophobic. Instead the focus is on his comments and not the message. Of course, NASCAR's master promoter has managed to make headlines that have me writing this, so maybe he is getting his point across.