By admin | September 23, 2012
By Richard Allen
When the Chase for the Championship first began in 2004, one of the concerns some people had was that the drivers who did not make the playoff would disappear into obscurity over the course of the final ten races. I was foolish enough back then to believe that individual races still mattered and as long as those not in contention for the title ran up front during each race they would still get noticed.
Boy was I ever naive back then.
This past weekend offered an illustration of where NASCAR racing is now in terms of the attention focused on its drivers and teams. Clearly, a racer is either a Chaser or he is forgotten. Two particular drivers were recently given a lesson in the pecking order.
Joey Logano, who under non-Chase circumstances would probably be considered quite newsworthy due to the fact that it was just announced he will be leaving Joe Gibbs Racing for Penske Racing at season’s end, came to a stark realization on Friday night in New Hampshire.
Due to the Speed TV coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Auction on Friday afternoon, Sprint Cup qualifying was aired by that network on a tape delayed basis in the late evening hours. Like many drivers, Logano wanted to watch his qualifying effort. However, he was disappointed to discover that he was no longer consider worthy of broadcast by the network.
“So I waited up till 11 o’clock last night to watch my qualifying lap on Speed and they didn’t even show it,” Logano posted to Twitter on Saturday morning.
Welcome to the modern era of ‘the Chase is all that matters’, Mr. Logano.
Logano’s JGR teammate, Kyle Busch, had learned the same lesson earlier in the week. The frequent Chase contender just missed making the twelve man playoff in 2012 and quickly came to realize after the last event in Chicago that he is suddenly less relevant than he was just days before.
“Since TV didn’t interview me I’ll come on here to say thx to my sponsors n my team for an awesome car n solid stops all day!” Busch tweeted after the Chicago race.
In a story posted by Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News, Busch further went on to explain the difficulties of missing the playoff. “Certainly throughout the event, itâ€™s a little bit more challenging getting some TV time, but thatâ€™s a product of missing the Chase,” he said. “Thatâ€™s kind of what you get. Itâ€™s our own fault. Those three points (we missed the Chase by) that could have meant an awful lot throughout the season to get us into the top-12.”
This is the NASCAR of today. The drivers who make the Chase for the Championship will get the lion’s share of the attention and those who miss it will get the scraps. Under the old system, if a driver went into the final few races with a commanding lead, the focus was on the individual races. That meant all 43 drivers were on equal footing in terms of media attention.
Now, drivers such as Kyle Busch and Joey Logano should not expect to get very much ‘face time’. And don’t think sponsors aren’t taking notice. Expect deals to be announced in the near future that will allow a financial backer to escape further obligations if their car isn’t part of the Chase.
In other words, the few rich will get richer while the many poor will get poorer.
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