Monday, September 28, 2009

Everybody, Overreact Right Now!

Jimmie Johnson dominated Dover yesterday to record his 4th win of the year and move 10 points behind Mark Martin in the championship. However, is this really the end of the championship? I think not, there are 8 races left. A lot of media types have already written their 'fourpeat' stories because Johnson won yesterday. The same way Martin won at Loudon and everyone proclaimed he was the man to beat. Things changed in one week? Really? I must have missed the part where the last 8 races of the year were a foregone conclusion. Johnson dominated yesterday, yes. He also won the first race at Dover so it's not like he has been an also-ran there and magically found something. That would be Martin's win at Loudon. Johnson is a five-time winner at Dover.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's actually talk about this championship a little. The way I see it, there are only 8 guys that have a chance now. Not by margin, but by place. I'm only including 8th-place Jeff Gordon because he is who he is. Realistically, the only guys that can run well enough in the final stretch of the year to take it all are Martin, Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart. I was worried about Smoke since he wrapped up a spot so early and rode around for a month, but they showed they're still going to be a factor. Busch and Montoya have shown they can go toe-to-toe with anyone. If I had to give an edge I'd give it to Montoya, who is riding a huge wave of confidence and the #42 team looks the best they have all year. Not dissimilar to the way Busch's #97 team looked in the first Chase in 2004. Next up are 3 speedway races in a row - Kansas, California, and Charlotte. These races will decide who still has a chance this year. Right now you'd have to look as those same 5 guys mentioned before as the ones to watch at those races. After Charlotte, we'll know who the real contenders are.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The (Real) Arrival of Juan Pablo Montoya

Consider me on the bandwagon that thinks Juan Pablo Montoya could be champion this year. It's been fun this year and really since the summer, when JPM's consistency became better and better. The way the team was racking points and running in the top 10 showed that they had a plan. This team has to be considered as much of a surprise as anyone. A lot of media (myself included) didn't think EGR would be good. If anyone, I figured it would be Truex in this position. Not the case and I think that's been a good thing.

Montoya's season really arrived when he dominated the Brickyard this year. Despite not getting the win, he showed that he could - and would soon. That hasn't been accomplished yet but consider me surprised if it doesn't during the Chase. Another good thing I like is that this team hasn't peaked yet. They could indeed be peaking now. How improbable is that - a team made up of an absentee owner and an owner that's only around when his other teams have an off weekend, a team that combined fielded three times as many teams a season ago, sponsorship issues, rated below many other teams on their manufacturer pecking order, and they could celebrate in Homestead as the 2009 Sprint Cup Champions.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NASCAR Changes Part 1 - Chase Format

I'm advocating a return to the Chase format as it stood in the first few years. The Chase for the Cup should only include 10 drivers. In years past, of course, it also included anyone within a certain amount of points of the leader after Richmond. I always that idea was faulty as well. I still dislike the idea of 12 drivers in the Chase because I think that's still too many. For me, being worthy of being a champion should be a smaller pool than what we have. With that in mind, here's what I'm proposing:

Go to 10-race, 10-driver format

- Re-seeding reverts back to tiered standings plus race win bonuses

1. 5050 points + 10 points per win

2. 5040 points + 10 points per win

3. 5030 points + 10 points per win

4. 5020 points + 10 points per win

5. 5010 points + 10 points per win

6. 5000 points + 10 points per win

7. 4990 points + 10 points per win

8. 4980 points + 10 points per win

9. 4970 points + 10 points per win

10. 4960 points + 10 points per win

That formula then produces the points standings going into the first race of the Chase.

I thought I would incorporate win bonuses in order to still provide an emphasis for winning during the 26 races before the Chase. Tell me the battle for 10th in any year wouldn't be less intense than a battle for 12th. I think 10 is the best round number in these matters. The Chase will be more prestigious enacting this change.

Coming next in this series, a revamped points system.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Chase Drivers

Mark Martin
Tony Stewart
Jimmie Johnson
Denny Hamlin
Kasey Kahne
Jeff Gordon
Kurt Busch
Brian Vickers
Carl Edwards
Ryan Newman
Juan Pablo Montoya
Greg Biffle

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Richard Petty Hasn't Driven A Ford Lately, But He Did A Long Time Ago

For the details, check out Marc at Full Throttle detailing the season in which Petty drove the blue oval.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Memo To Atlanta

Please do not, under any circumstances, repave that track.

The Pep Boys 500 last night was a fun race. Not fun for drivers that enjoy easy racing, but fun for the fans. Everyone that recorded a top 10 finish earned their money. Even, I'll grudgingly admit, Kasey Kahne.

At this point, I don't think Atlanta losing a spring race eventually will matter as long as this race will stay here on Labor Day in lieu of a return to Darlington. This one should be packed from top to bottom in 2010.