By admin | October 3, 2010
By Richard Allen
NASCARâ€™s form of a playoff is one of the oddest in all of sports. Over the course of the final ten races there are twelve drivers who race for the right to be crowned Sprint Cup champion. However, unlike sports such as baseball, football and basketball, all competitors continue to run in each of those final ten events whether they are eligible for the title or not. In those other sports, the teams to make the playoffs continue on while the others have their seasons end when the playoffs begin.
One of the dangers with the NASCAR system is the ever present possibility of a title contender getting involved in a situation with a driver not a part of the championship hunt. That is exactly what happened in the Price Chopper 400 at the Kansas Speedway on Sunday.
Early in the race, Chase for the Championship contender Kyle Busch tapped the back of non-Chaser David Reutimann. The result was that Reutimannâ€™s Toyota went for a wild ride and made contact with the outside wall, causing significant damage.
Later on, Reutimann, who was laps down by that time, exacted his revenge by driving into the left rear of Buschâ€™s Toyota. Reutimann was actually the one who went for yet another spin as a result of that contact but Buschâ€™s car suffered enough damage that any hopes of a race victory were dashed.
Ultimately, Busch finished 21st in the race. That finish dropped him four spots to seventh in the Sprint Cup standings. He is 80 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
Immediately after the second incident Busch had some pointed words over his in-car radio for those in authority who might be listening. â€œI have a serious problem with what just happened there and no one in the tower is going to do a _____ thing about it,â€ the frustrated driver said. â€œAnd if they donâ€™t weâ€™re going to have a meeting afterwards.â€
For his part, Reutimann had some strong words for Busch and any of the other eleven Chase contenders who might happen to cross paths with him over the course of the seasonâ€™s final seven races. â€œDrivers in the Chase need to think about who they wreck,â€ he said in a post race interview.
Television cameras showed Busch storming from his car in the garage area after the race and marching toward Reutimannâ€™s garage space. However, nothing came of it as the title contender was headed off at the pass and sent back to his hauler.
â€œThe guy got loose and came up off the bottom and I got into him unintentionally,â€ Busch conceded. â€œIt was my fault, 100% my fault, but unintentional.â€
As long as NASCAR insists on sticking with the Chase for the Championship format(and sadly enough they are going to stick with it) then this type of thing will always be a possibility. Stuff like what happened on Sunday in Kansas just goes to show how silly it is to name someone as champion for an entire season just because they scored the most points over the course of the final ten races.
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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.
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