By admin | October 29, 2011
By Richard Allen
If the Sprint Cup race on Sunday at the Martinsville Speedway has as many noteworthy happenings as the Camping World Truck Series of Saturday afternoon on that same track had, it will go down as one of the most talked about races in the sport’s history. However, the likelihood of that happening is somewhat remote.
Just look at all that took place during the 200 laps of Saturday’s race. A rare participant in the series, Denny Hamlin, took the victory. That eventual winner employed a different strategy than many of those he had to race against for the win and had to come from far back in the field during the second half of the event. The winning move came very late in the race and was the result of the series points leader making a bobble while racing for the lead.
Also, there were more temper flaring incidents than can be recounted in the space of one blog, but the most noteworthy came when two teammates, Max Papis and Todd Bodine, had an on track skirmish which led to a heated post-race confrontation.
Those of us who plan to watch on Sunday can only hope for as much entertainment, but to count on it would be a bit overly optimistic.
One reason stands out as a glaring difference between the two series’ that will cause a more tame affair in the headline event. That difference is the Chase for the Championship playoff format.
In today’s Sprint Cup Series, everything has become about points, points and more points. With that being the case, those involved in the Chase will be reluctant to go all out for fear of damaging their car and losing points. Those outside the Chase will be inclined to tip-toe around the championship leaders for fear of doing something that will cost them points.
Last week’s race in Talladega demonstrated how the chase for points has completely taken over the sport. The big controversy from the restrictor plate race that has had everyone talking all week was the use of team orders by those involved. However, it wasn’t how those orders impacted the outcome of the race but how those orders affected the series standings that caused such a stir. For that matter, hardly anyone talked about winner Clint Bowyer during the past week. Instead, much more was said about points contenders Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, who finished 18th and 27th respectively.
What does it say about a sporting event in which two competitors who were so badly beaten get such a disproportionate amount of the attention from that event? It says the focus is in the wrong place.
So, on Sunday in Martinsville, I will be surprised if we see the same type of action that we saw in Saturday’s truck race. I expect more concern of points than the actual race win.
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