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Lack of Chase drama could create real drama in Richmond

By admin | September 6, 2010

By Richard Allen


The Race to the Chase is essentially over with still a full week to go before the cutoff. Clint Bowyer currently holds the 12th and final playoff spot by a commanding 117 point lead over 13th place Ryan Newman. So, with the Chase for the Championship participants all but decided, what will happen in Richmond?

When the Chase format was first devised many fans, competitors and media members immediately looked to the 26th race in Richmond as one that would provide great drama at a point in the season in which NASCAR could use great drama as football season kicks off.

However, that Chase deciding race has not always provided the type of nail biting excitement originally envisioned. Rather, drivers have had a tendency to find the place where they need to run to secure their playoff spot and just ride there. Instead of creating more intensity, the Chase has actually seemed to create less.

With no real drama within those first twelve spots this year, there is little more for drivers to do than race for the win. And that is true of those locked inside the Chase and those locked out.

A win for those locked into the Chase would provide much desired bonus points since each race win adds ten points to a driver’s total once everything is reset for the playoff. Five drivers currently inside the top-12 have no bonus points to look forward to as they have no wins thus far in 2010. A win in Richmond could change that for one of these drivers. Also, a win for any driver going into the Chase could provide a shot of momentum at just the right time.

For drivers outside the Chase, a win could salvage a non-championship contending season. For drivers such as Newman, Jamie McMurray and David Reutimann, a win could add to previous victories and give either of those drivers and teams something to show sponsors and supporters alike that their seasons have been successful despite having no chance at a series title.

With a first race win of the year, drivers such as Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. could show that their seasons have not been a total loss in 2010.

Only two drivers, Bowyer and Greg Biffle, have to worry about scoring enough points to clinch a spot in the Chase, and they do not have much to worry about. Bowyer needs only a 28th place result while Biffle only needs a 42nd, and that’s if Newman wins the race and leads the most laps.

So, since there are very few worries in regard to points this weekend, the Richmond race has a chance to be among the most exciting of the season. The only motivation 41 drivers have going into this weekend is to win, and nothing else. That could make for some real drama, just not the type of drama NASCAR had envisioned when it set up this championship system.

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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 |

7 Responses to “Lack of Chase drama could create real drama in Richmond”

  1. missouriracefan Says:
    September 6th, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I hope it is a really exciting race. We will be there and want to be rewarded for the long journey to Richmond.

  2. Justin Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Lets not forget that for those locked into the Chase, this is a perfectly opportunity for a little payback on the track, without costing either driver a whole more than wrecked equipment….. Or, for example, a driver outside the Chase, like say Brad Keselowski, and a driver inside the Chase like Kyle Busch, it would be a perfect spot for Brad to give him the bumper. Not that I expect that to happen, just saying….

  3. Bill B Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    “With no real drama within those first twelve spots this year, there is little more for drivers to do than race for the win.”
    Remember when that used to be the way all 36 races were? Maybe during the last couple races of the season the guy in first might be able to try and race conservative to protect their points lead (assuming they had a large points lead) but everyone else had to go for the win. I’m glad the chase stopped that “going for the win” mentality.

  4. JC Rodriguez Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Adding the Wildcard 13 would produce drama at Richmond. Any driver who has raced in all 25 races thus far and has won at least one race and is out of the Top 12 is eligible. If they win Richmond they enter the Chase as the 13th spot. Win and you’re in. Who is eligible this year? 39,1,00,42….I am sure their fans, sponsors and teams would be interested in Richmond just to see if their driver can pull it off.
    And more importantly, no driver is eliminated from the Chase until Atlanta. Going into Atlanta last week a winless driver still had a shot if they can win 2 in a row! So for example Junior and Logano (and their big $ sponsors) to name a few would still have a shot instead of being realistically eliminated like they have been for weeks now.

  5. Marybeth Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    @JCR, As long as Jr. is at HMS he will not be competitive. Have you ever heard of the 25/88 R&D car running competitively for the championship…?

  6. Steve_S Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Marybeth, there you go again with that R&D stuff. Does that stand for Reality and Denial? How about I (jr) just want the money and not to have to run good to get it?

    As for the races leading up to the chase and a win in Richmond and your in, well what if someone like Regan Smith or a start and parker like back row joe pulls off a win at Richmond because Brad wrecks Kryle and takes half the field out and gets the wild card 13th when a driver like jamie Mac with more that 1 win doesn’t? Easy, get rid of the chase and award the most consistent driver over the grueling 36 race season. That is much more difficult than running 600 points back in 12th after 26 and then having a 6 or 7 race streak to win the pile of iron.

  7. Putz Says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I’d say it’s payback time. Brat can nail Kryle, Dummy, and Crybaby Carl all in the same event!