By admin | August 30, 2012
By Richard Allen
On this weekend in which all three of NASCARâ€™s top divisions will be in action on the same track, a look at the standings reveals that there are three tight points battles in progress at this late stage of the season. And almost certainly, the contests in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series will go right down to the wire, even without a Chase for the Championship in those divisions.
Of course, the Sprint Cup standings will be reset after next weekendâ€™s race in Richmond so as to artificially place twelve drivers in contention for a championship, even though several of those drivers would not have any chance of winning were the points counted over the entire season. Such a system would seem to cheapen the title and bring about a feeling of illegitimacy to the process.
The best title fights in NASCAR history have been those in which the full season was taken into account and the result was still in doubt going into the final race. The years of 1979 in which Richard Petty just edged Darrell Waltrip and 1992 when Alan Kulwicki won a battle in which five drivers went into the final race in Atlanta with a chance to win.
Championships arenâ€™t always decided by such close margins when the whole season is taken into account but sometimes one driver and team simply proves to be the class of the field for a year. Dominance isnâ€™t always a bad thing.
In 2012, four drivers are within 26 points of the lead after 24 Sprint Cup races. Another three are close enough that they could have emerged as factors in the title run had that run gone the full length of a 36 race campaign. Nothing would have to be contrived to make this a close battle. And the eventual winner would have the satisfaction of knowing he had earned his victory without a reset.
Furthermore, those drivers not close enough to be in the points fight would have nothing to do other than go out and try to win races. There would be no need for over one-third of the field in every race parading around in fear of losing a precious point should they attempt a bold move for the win.
Instead, however, that is exactly the type of racing NASCARâ€™s top division offers. Every race is a points race first and a race for the win second.
Sure, the Chase creates the possibility that each and every season can end like last year when Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards battled to a draw in the standings with a tie-breaker having to be employed. If fans donâ€™t mind trading 35 â€œgood points dayâ€ races for one with actual drama.
And more, the other 41 drivers on track last year in Homestead looked as if they were skating around on thin ice as they went out of their way to avoid even coming close to Stewart and Edwards.
The real points battles in NASCAR this season are in the two lower classes as four drivers run within 35 points of each other in the Nationwide Series and five drivers are within 31 points in the trucks. No resets required.
Itâ€™s a shame that NASCARâ€™s hierarchy allowed one season(2003) in which Matt Kenseth secured the title prior to the final race to determine the sportâ€™s way of crowning a champion just so the TV networks would have something to talk about other than just the race itself.
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