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This is not really the start of the second half of the NASCAR season

By admin | July 9, 2010

By Richard Allen

Do not be fooled by what mathematics may lead you to believe. There are 36 races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. This is race number 19 so it should seem obvious that the teams, drivers and all others involved are entering the second half of the season. However, that is not necessarily the case.

If there is a Sprint Cup team out there making plans as if they are entering the second half of the season they are more than a little late to the party.

Since the inception of the Chase for the Championship in 2004, teams, drivers and all others have broken their racing seasons down a bit differently. The cutoff for the Chase playoff occurs after race number 26, which will take place in Richmond this September. So, for the purposes of planning to win a title teams must now break their seasons down into segments of 13-13-10.

The Chase for the Championship is a ten race playoff among the drivers positioned in the top-12 of the standings after the 26th race of the season.

The first 13 races of the year consist of those from Daytona to Charlotte. In those 13 races, teams attempt to position themselves for a strong second segment run to the Chase cutoff. Winning races, of course, is nice because doing so allows for points to be added once the Chase is made. But most of all in segment one, accumulating as many points as possible so as to be able to afford some sort of mishap in the next segment is key.

Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team have become masters of this strategy which has led them to four consecutive titles. It has enabled them to build bonus points toward the final Chase segment and also affords them the opportunity to experiment a bit in getting ready for a championship run in the fall.

The second 13 race segment, which is currently in progress, is all about the haves keeping what they have and the have-nots trying to race their way into the top-12 before the Chase cutoff.

Currently, there are three drivers within 80 points of 12th place in the Sprint Cup standings. That amount can be overturned in one race.

Of course, the ultimate goal of every team and driver in the first two segments of the season is to qualify for the third and final segment which decides the series champion.

As can be seen, the NASCAR Sprint Cup season is divided by threes rather than twos. Over the course of the weekend it will no doubt be said that we have reached the halfway point of the season. Going purely by mathematics, that is true. However, dividing the season into halves does not really provide a true look at how the teams and drivers break it down.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “This is not really the start of the second half of the NASCAR season”

  1. Charles Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 6:36 am

    If Nascar doesnt start focusing on why we fans go to a race, and that is to see a great race that day!!!!! Instead of having a stradety session as to who wins the Chase, I predict no matter how they adjust the Chase format, they should be spending their time making “raceday” better! This Chase more important than the race is not working!

    And whats worse is Nascars failure to see it!

    Just ask youself one simple question when you go to a Nascar race or even watch on TV.

    Am here to see a great race??
    Am I here to see who wins the Chase?

  2. Richard Allen Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Couldn’t agree more, Charles

  3. Jeff Says:
    July 11th, 2010 at 2:49 am

    I go to all my races to hope Tony or Jamie win………and for that reason only. I don’t give one rat’s ass about the points at hardly any part of the season. Only time I’ve cared about points is when I went to my 1st races in 2003 and 2006 and bought Tony championship shirts. :)

  4. shawn Says:
    July 12th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    as a fan of 30 years, I can tell you that points do not matter to me. I would rather see my favorite driver win 3-4 races per year and let points fall where they may. When NASCAR figures out the week to week races are why fans watch, then they can start to cure their ills.NO MATTER how much you tweek the chase it will not bring more viewers or attendees to these races.What would fix NASCAR is more races at tracks where races are not boring and to have more owners and less super teams to sap up all major sponsors and talent.Limits of two teams per owner would change what you see on Sundays.