There is more excitement on the NASCAR scene than I’ve seen for ages. We have a real championship battle and enough drama to make the daily soap operas cringe in fear, but yet there doesn’t seem to be any buzz about this final run. And I wonder why. It mystifies me.
[media-credit name=”Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR” align=”alignright” width=”221″][/media-credit]Tony Stewart has moved to within three points of a third championship, coming from a position that can only be described as futile. He’s won four of the eight races in the Chase and still people seem unmoved for some reason. I thought the excitement of someone else, anyone winning a NASCAR championship would be exciting to fans, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Far from it. Maybe it’s the participants.
If you took a poll of NASCAR fans, I suspect most would vote for their favorite to be Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, and maybe even Kevin Harvick. Unfortunately, none of those guys are going to win this year. Jimmie Johnson, the guy who has won the last five championships, might even get a few votes, just because. Instead, we have Carl Edwards in the lead, if only by a minimal margin fighting the “great bully,” Tony Stewart. Both are great drivers and worthy of a championship. In fact, Stewart is a two-time Sprint Cup champion and Edwards has won the Nationwide championship. So, what’s the problem?
Maybe it has to do with the whole system. Stewart languished far to the back of the standings until the Chase started. Finally, he caught fire while Edwards used consistency, the reason the points systems has worked forever, to stay at the top of the charts. Edwards has only one win, something that is really strange considering the equipment he has, and yet despite a better average finish and overall performance, is struggling to hold on. While the favorites have been good, they find themselves hopelessly out of the running to an also-ran during the regular season and a guy who just finishes in the top five for most of the season. Kind of like the year Matt Kenseth won the championship with one win. It’s just not fan inspiring. Yes the St. Louis Cardinals won the MLB championship with the same scenario, but that is baseball and not racing. For years, racing has been based on track championships and those always took a season and crowed the champion and not over the last 10 races. Pulling NASCAR into that system is only going to be problematic.
I find it exciting. We have a horse race with the bully Stewart telling Edwards to watch his back and making it come true. We have the consistent Edwards coming close, but falling prey to the NASCAR rule about bonus points, which I’ve always thought was stupid and not productive, And the fight is on.
With two races to go, it’s anyone’s championship, and like those Cardinals, it appears that only a bad day by Stewart will decide the championship. The Texas Rangers had those bad days, and it’s only a bad day from either Stewart or Edwards that will decide the championship.
Kyle Busch was parked by NASCAR for taking the truck of Ron Hornaday, Jr. out during a caution during a caution flag on Friday night. Busch was also banned from participating in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races on Saturday and Sunday. Regardless of how fans felt about this turn of events, it robbed Busch of any chance of finishing other than last in the Chase. Many feel that is justice, and maybe they are right. The bigger issue is Busch’s future with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. Sponsors have been patient with Busch over the years, but will this be the last straw? Time will tell, but this writer’s opinion is that this might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.