Hot 20 – Atlanta’s Final Fall Race as it Springs to the Spring…er…Winter…in 2015

In 2015, the Atlanta 500 makes its return. Well, sort of. That was the name of the early season race in Atlanta before they pimped out the brand to the sponsors. In 2010, they lost that date, while what once was the season finale in Cup got moved to where we find it today. Next year, it shall be the second race of the season, immediately following the Daytona 500. That would be good news for anyone seeking a southern racing holiday to start the year.

Kasey Kahne won the early race there in 2006 and the late one of 2009. He could sure use another one this weekend. Among those seeking a Chase place, he is one of two former Atlanta winners who have yet to win in 2014. Tony Stewart is the other.

Like all fans, I sure wish the Stewart situation will be soon resolved. I know that it never will be for the Ward family and for Stewart the emotional trauma will be felt for a long time. It is good to hear he will return to racing this weekend.

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After a dozen years, NASCAR has done good and returned the Southern 500 to its traditional Labor Day weekend at Darlington. You do not mess with tradition, especially when it involves one of your signature races. Maybe they learned their lesson, though I doubt it. If we ever, ever see a Chick-fil-A 500 at Daytona, I am so gone. Maybe there is a BaseballDiamond.com site that could use a writer.

Of course, they did manage to turf another tradition, if only for a season, in moving the Firecracker 400, or whatever they want to call it now, from Saturday night to Sunday in 2015. Not 2016, just for next year. It would make NBC happy, we are told. Well, if it makes NBC happy. Maybe they are not that big on fireworks over there. As for those fans who will have one less day to get home from the track, too damn bad, I guess.

I think, in looking at these standings, that the days of the season’s best being awarded the championship are long over. Twenty-four races in and it is a two driver race at present. Sure, with a win or two others might be able to challenge, but there is not much drama here. Now, a 31 race regular season and a five race playoff, featuring only the best 20, might be a possibility. Still, I would not hold my breathe on it, especially if you supercharged the winner’s bonus from 3 to 25, as I have done here. Win two, especially the first two in the playoff, and it might wind up being a coronation.

Maybe the best method might be to keep things as they are, with winners getting a free pass, but reducing it to a five race Chase and eliminating the eliminations. Only the 20 best, those with a playoff spot earned during the regular season, hitting the track those five events. Just like the playoffs in all those other sports.

In seeking out a method of determining a champion, combining a valid winner with the drama of a close race, is NASCAR’s new elimination series the way to go, my alternative, or is there a better method? What are your thoughts?

*Winners awarded a bonus of 25 points, rather than 3

Hot 20
1 – Jeff Gordon – 3 Wins – 881 Points
2 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 3 – 879
3 – Brad Keselowski – 3 – 799
4 – Joey Logano – 3 – 780
5 – Jimmie Johnson – 3 – 752
6 – Kevin Harvick – 2 – 731
7 – Carl Edwards – 2 – 723
8 – Matt Kenseth – 0 – 709
9 – Ryan Newman – 0 – 679
10 – Clint Bowyer – 0 – 672
11 – Greg Biffle – 0 – 660
12 – Kasey Kahne – 0 – 651
13 – Kyle Busch – 1 – 642
14 – Austin Dillon – 0 – 638
15 – Kyle Larson – 0 – 636
16 – Marcos Ambrose – 0 – 616
17 – Paul Menard – 0 – 614
18 – Denny Hamlin – 1 – 611
19 – Brian Vickers – 0 – 598
20 – Jamie McMurray – 0 – 596

The Not So Hot
21 – Aric Almirola – 1 Wins – 578 Points
22 – A.J. Allmendinger – 1 – 578
23 – Kurt Busch – 1 – 575
24 – Casey Mears – 0 – 543
25 – Tony Stewart – 0 – 537
26 – Martin Truex, Jr. – 0 – 516
27 – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – 0 – 476
28 – Danica Patrick – 0 – 445
29 – Justin Allgaier – 0 – 400
30 – Michael Annett – 0 – 364

 

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