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Did someone outlaw passing for the lead in the Chase?

By admin | September 30, 2012

By Richard Allen

I love NASCAR racing, I really do. But I realize that sometimes it would be hard to guess that based on the blogs I write. And I also realize that it seems as if I write the same blog just about every week. However, I believe this sport is being lead in the wrong direction and it would do no favors to anyone if I were to not say what I think.

All that said, I want to know who outlawed passing during the Chase for the Championship. More specifically, who outlawed passing for the lead during the first three outings of the ten race playoff?

Whether anyone at NASCAR will actually say so or not, the idea behind the Chase was almost certainly to showcase the sport in the time period in which NASCAR goes up against the NFL. Well, these first three races have been anything but a showcase.

On Sunday in Dover, there were a total of eleven lead changes over the course of the 400 mile event. That’s right, ELEVEN lead changes in 400 miles. But if that isn’t bad enough, the real disappointment was in the fact that only two of those lead changes were not related to either a caution period or an exchange during green flag pit stops. That’s right, there were TWO actual passes for the lead over the course of 400 miles.

Kyle Busch passed Denny Hamlin on lap 34 in a move not brought on by a green flag pit stop or caution. Then, it would not be until lap 354 when Busch passed Jimmie Johnson under green that another competitve pass for the lead would take place.

The facts listed above are almost unbelieveable but a check of the website will confirm the numbers.

If this were just an isolated case it could be chalked up as some sort of oddity. But this lack of passing for the lead happens on an almost weekly basis. Even though there was an unusual situation to have occured in Dover when all but eight cars were trapped a lap or more down when a caution came out in the middle of a pit sequence, none of those cars who got lapped indicated the ability to drive up and take the lead under green.

Last week’s race in New Hampshire had seventeen lead changes with at least eleven of those coming as a result of cautions or green flag pit stop exchanges. There were sixteen lead changes in Chicago two weeks ago with eleven of those related to cautions or green flag pit stop exchanges.

In other words, passing for the lead under green just doesn’t happen very often in NASCAR’s top division.

I’ve said it seemingly a million times before but the solution has to be within the setups of the cars and the overabundance of rules therein. With so many components on the machines dictated by the sanctioning body, the cars are all essentially running the same speed. While this is often touted as being good for the sport, the opposite is actually true. Cars running the same speed never pass each other.

Fans often criticize the so-called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks for their lack of racing action. So far in the Chase, there has been one of those tracks, a flat one-mile and a banked one-mile. None has produced good racing.

The Chase is not doing what it is supposed to by showcasing the sport in a critical time period.

Topics: Articles |

14 Responses to “Did someone outlaw passing for the lead in the Chase?”

  1. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 1:35 am

    This is why i have no want to go to a live race rather dvr and check it later on. I do like the trucks but rather spend my time going to tracks around me and watch dirt late models and sprints. NA$CAR is just too boring now without the old idea of setting up your car for your driver’s style not what the rules dictate. Hell a dirt late model is more advanced than a 200,000.00 NA$CAR spec racer. Sad but true.

  2. Tony Geinzer Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 2:55 am

    I hate to be on my Critical Consumer Face, Rich, but, where is the honest to goodness late season excitement?

  3. John Blake Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 7:31 am

    This is why Nascar isn’t worth watching anymore. Auto racing was once about drivers competing for a win. Now it is cookie-cutter cars in a fuel economy parade. Golf is more entertaining. Well, women’s golf, anyway.

  4. Curtis webster Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 7:57 am

    The second pass for the lead that you mentioned on lap 354 wasn’t exactly contested either since JJ was going into fuel conservation mode and KB was wide open throttle knowing he was going to have to stop for a splash of gas anyway. So for all intents and purposes, there was only one contested pass for the lead in 400 miles. Where is the excitement the Chase was supposed to bring to NASCAR? Dump it before more people turn over to watch the Ryder Cup instead of boring racing!

  5. Bill B Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 8:17 am

    They’ve replaced racing on the track with racing to accumulate points.

  6. jerseygirl Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Ha, JJ tried passing KyBu under green and Kyle took them 3 wide. JJ chickened out and passively rode around in 2nd until the next round of pit stops. I was at the race and although I much prefer being able to see all the action as opposed to be limited to what I see on TV, I could have taken a nap through the majority of the race.

    I was happy that for a change the wave around had little to no impact on allowing 25 cars to get back on the lead lap AND that NASCAR didn’t find a way to throw a caution to force a GWC and pretend it was an exciting day.

  7. midasmicah Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 10:25 am

    It’s getting to point where counting flies on the wall is just about as exciting as watching a nas$car race. I hate being negative a lot of the time, but there’s simply nothing positive to write about, Rich. I watched very little of the race yesterday and what I did watch was the same boring fare nas$car has been offering up for the last few years. No passing means no real racing. I don’t think these modern drivers know how to race hard anymore. Why should they when they’re being encouraged NOT TO. I’ve had enough.

  8. sylvia richardson Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 1:42 pm


  9. Glen H. Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I loved the Dover race yesterday! I didn’t miss any on track action while I was watching football and flipping to the race during commercials.

    Seriously, the racing has been pretty boring of late. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone in the Chase tries to race up front at ‘dega or if they’ll ride around in the back waiting for the “big one”.

  10. Pat388 Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Wayne T Morgan said it best. I agree that right now the truck series is the best Nascar has to offer. Also his comment about letting the crew chief set up the car for his driver’s style of driving. Soon it will be computers instead of crew chiefs and cars will just be on auto-pilot instead of having drivers. For 15 years I watched races that were often exciting and had me jumping out of my chair. For the last 5 or 6 years, each year has gotten worse than the year before to the point that your either turn the TV off or you fall asleep.

  11. RacingFan Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Two obvious negatives that should be removed to improve the situation:
    1. $100,000 per engine per race. I know that is probably only for the top teams, but if we assume 100,000 fans attending, $43 dollars per fan is being paid just for the 43 engines in the race.
    2. Multi car teams

  12. Russ Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    $0 is being paid per fan per race for engines or anything else.

    Sponsors are footing the bill for all the race teams and cars. Race sponsors pick up signifigant parts of the purse and expenses.

    Where does the admission go? Simplisticly to the tracks, which are owned by Nascar(the France family) or Bruton Smith.
    Thats why their balance sheet still looks good.

  13. RacingFan Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Well, I doubt that the sponsors are cutting back on their own living expenses to pay for the engines. The money is coming from fans who buy their products at a higher cost than if advertising did not exist. I knew one person who refused to buy products that were heavily advertised because too much of the purchase price of those products was being wasted on advertising.
    Whether or not the fans in attendance paid for engines, the ridiculousness of the cost and the negative effect it has upon the ability for new teams to enter the sport is a negative. Millions of dollars are being spent per race on engines when all the engines produce about the same power anyway.

  14. Russ Says:
    October 3rd, 2012 at 11:57 am

    New teams not entering are the result of the Top 35 rule. Which in my opinion was designed to prevent new teams coming in. Therefore it forces anyone to buy an existing team. Remember all the arguments about franchising? That went away because the Top 35 rule, accomplished franchising, but didnt call it that.