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Poor Chase track selection not allowing NASCAR to put best foot forward

By admin | October 10, 2011

By Richard Allen


The Chase for the Championship was designed with the intent of creating drama during the final ten weeks of the Sprint Cup season at a time when NASCAR has to compete with the NFL and the Major League Baseball playoffs for the sports world’s attention. But after four races, this year’s Chase is hardly allowing the sport to put its best foot forward.

While a look at the standings indicates that this is shaping up to be one of the closest battles in the history of the series, the individual races have been lifeless. The problem with that scenario is individual races keep people’s attention on a week by week basis where close points battles only keep people’s attention for the final week or two of the season.

In my opinion, the problem with the Chase is the tracks chosen to be a part of the ten race format.

In Chicago, the 1.5 mile ‘cookie cutter’ did what those type tracks so often do. It provided a somewhat eventless race which ended with a fuel mileage coast rather than a fender banging battle to the finish line. No matter how much the television announcers may try to make such an ending sound exciting, there is something inherently wrong with watching race car drivers shut their engines off under green flag conditions so they can out coast the competition.

The second Chase event in New Hampshire was one of the most lackluster races in recent memory. There was no passing, no controversy and no reason for casual fans to stick around during the middle stages of the event.

In Dover, NASCAR had a race and not many fans showed up. Scores of empty seats glared through the camera lens. When people see an empty amusement park or restaurant they wonder what’s wrong with it to cause it to be empty. The same can be said for empty grandstands at a sporting event.

The ‘cookie cutter’ track in Kansas offered long stretches of parade style racing which happened to end with a somewhat interesting finish due to a series of late race cautions. Still, the finish may not have been noticed by many due to the fact that the first four-fifths of the race were son dull.

I have never been a fan of the Chase for the Championship. It is the individual races that drive my interest level in this sport. But if the Chase was indeed designed to create drama and excitement, the tracks NASCAR has chosen to showcase their title run are doing little to help the cause.

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8 Responses to “Poor Chase track selection not allowing NASCAR to put best foot forward”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 7:31 am

    While I detest the Sonoco Economy Run races and dislike the cookie cutter tracks I think the real problem lies in how they have tricked out the COT.

    I have no problem with the basic design of the COT, kinda reminds me of the late 80’s cars. I do have a problem with how they have tried to turn the cars into a variation of Jim Halls J2 ’sucker car’ (minus the rear exahust fans). I know they were trying to get as much speed out of the cars as possible, but what they have done is made them so aero dependent that it has killed actual racing.

    Get rid of the splitter and make sure that there is about 2″ of space between the bottom lip of the front and the track while racing. Reduce the size of the rea spoiler to match the reduced downforce at the front (adding even a 1/2″ of adjustability to that spoiler would help too). And finally get rid of the lower side valances and the silly looking shark fins along the top left.

    Speeds would be reduced but by being less aero dependent the cars could pass easier and lead to more side by side racing. That alone would negate some of the need to have the over abundant number of mileage races because you could get track position the old fashioned way….pass other cars.

  2. jerseygirl Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I’d prefer that the whole “chase” concept was abandoned, but that’s unlikely since Brian France apparently continues to think that the majority of fans love it.

    However, I agree that if they are going to keep it then there needs to be a shuffling of the tracks in the chase. A good mix, not the abundance of 1.5 mile tracks that produce the same type of racing ad nauseum. Plus I really hate having a crapshoot in the mix - ie Talladega.

    I’d rather see NASCAR mix the final 10 tracks up each year instead of the same ones over and over.

    Sue - that’s a great comment about the cars. It’s annoying considering that the spec car was touted by NASCAR as the “fix” to the aero problem that the twisted sister race cars had - except it’s been a total failure and ugly to boot.

  3. Steve Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Well Rich, the Chase is so darned exciting that it doesn’t matter where they race. (Sarcasm over)

    As long as the 20 something year old demographic likes the Chase that’s all that matters in Brians world. Its the only demographic that he cares about and all decisions revolve around that demographic.

  4. Chris Fiegler Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Do you think that there will ever be a chase race on a Road Course?

  5. Charles Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Sue Rarick

    I like you comment about being like the Chapparral 2J that Jim Hall had! I agree! Glad to know you are a car gal, seems Nascar has tried to exclude us car guys and gals from there playbook and now its beganing to hault them!

    My take is let the mechanic have more control in the car, not Nascar, here they give out shocks, mandate gear ratio, etc, its time to “deregulate Nascar” rules.

    I say lets get some of the cars when Nascar was better, out of the Hall OF Fame, or Darlington or Talledaga Muesum, carry them to the windtunnel, get aero numbers, and design a car from there, say late 70s to mid eighties models. Use the Banjo Matthews type chasis, all this stuff is proven designs! 3 inch spoilier in rear and front! Worked for almost three decades!

    Tired of Ralph Nader, Dale Carniegie course types in Nascar making the rules, we supposed to be racing not parading, and whats wrong with letting car owners “have at it again”, fans loved the protesting back in the day!!!

  6. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I’m telling NASCAR, the Chase AIN’T working! Also, I am just as angry if JJ or Hendrick won, I would still stick to my promise to fire Sprint for a better Sponsor! I would want 1 Championship Race, not 10!

  7. Steve Says:
    October 11th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    While I agree about mixing up the tracks each year it would never work because of the 2 major track owners could bever agree on the $$$$.

    As for Sue’s comments about the COT I also agree mostly with her comments but some of the items (side skirts and shark fin) are to keep the cars on the groung and not in the stands when sideways.

    How can nascar claim to have a manufacturer championship when the only item that is not aftermarket are the engines that are specially made hybrids not available to the public and nascar controls not only every other item on the cars but also the amount of horsepower produced by each brand to control who has an advantage? Chevy may tout winning every year but it all marketing by which nascar must make money. And after the bailout, shouldn’t say Taxpayer Motors not Chevy?

  8. Gordon85Wins Says:
    October 12th, 2011 at 7:29 am

    The Chase could be at my ten favorite tracks in racing and I would still hate it. To reset the top twelve drivers points to zero just to create excitement negates everything that happens on the racetrack for the first 26 races and all of the fighting for positions through those races does not matter. Even before the Chase cheated my favorite driver out of two titles I thought it was an idiotic idea, as did most NASCAR fans. It really doesn’t make a difference where the last ten events are held.

    I really loved NASCAR before the Chase…never missed a race. Now if I watch four races a year it’s a lot, and the Chase is the number one reason I stopped watching. Brian France got what he wanted: I’m a casual fan.