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It wasn’t the new Chase format that created great racing in Bristol

By admin | March 17, 2014

A tire that would wear out over the course of a fuel run created great racing in Bristol. 

By Richard Allen

 The racing on Sunday at the Bristol Motor Speedway was outstanding. Drivers were swapping positions as they moved up and down the score board all throughout the day and night in what has proven to be the most entertaining race so far in this young 2014 NASCAR season.

But please, don’t be fooled by the hype. No matter what you may have heard on television or some other source of information, the new format for making the Chase for the Sprint Cup did not cause great racing on Sunday. Instead, the tire brought by Goodyear did.

Drivers have always wanted to win. This new format hasn’t suddenly made them want to win more. The problem has for some time been the fact that the car(call it CoT, Gen5 or Gen6 if you want, it’s all the same car) will not allow them to race any better than they have been. Combine a bad car with tires that are so hard they never show signs of wear and you will get bad racing every time. Finally on Sunday in Bristol, all the circumstances for great racing came together at once.

The fact that this race was held on a short track rather than a 1.5 or 2 mile ‘cookie cutter’ helped to negate the effect of ’clean’ and/or ‘dirty’ air. And most importantly, the tires used this past weekend actually showed signs of wear throughout a full fuel run. In other words, there was a noticeable difference from the beginning of a run to the end of the run in the speed and performance of the cars.

But don’t just take my word for it.

During Friday’s practice session, Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer tweeted, “Finally…FINALLY, there is a tire at Bristol that drastically falls off during a run. Good for business folks!!!”

And after the weekend of racing, Nationwide Series regular Elliott Sadler echoed Bowyer’s thoughts when he tweeted, “Great job by @GoodyearRacing this weekend… Tire had grip and fall off… Fall off creates great racing…”

NASCAR has for a long time needed a tire that will fall off during each run. That creates a situation in which there will be ‘comers’ and ‘goers’ as different driving styles and setups have varying effects on tire wear. The points format could be any one of the multiple choice options that have been used over the last couple of decades and the racing would be great if the car being used was capable of passing.  NASCAR could have this virtually every week if they would loosen up the rules a bit and encourage and/or allow Goodyear to bring compounds that will wear away.

But for now, I guess we will have to be happy with one good race that no one attended and fewer watched on TV than last year.

Topics: Articles |

8 Responses to “It wasn’t the new Chase format that created great racing in Bristol”

  1. Bill B Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 5:56 am

    Yes, tires that wear are a good thing. Having tire management back in the equation can only be a good thing. Even more important would be finding a way to swap out some of those 1.5 milers for a couple of half-mile tracks. Short tracks just create more interesting racing for spectators.

  2. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Well said Richard.

  3. GinaV24 Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Well said, Rich. NASCAR continues to insist that the “chase” is the end all and be all for the sport, but as a fan, I certainly don’t agree. It’s always been about the race I’m watching each weekend.

    I seldom watch the race on TV any longer. I prefer to follow it using my computer & radio coverage. I’m not interested in the Waltrip’s point of view about all things NASCAR or ESPN’s chase, chase, chase focus.

    Last year the race at Fontana was decent, too, because of the tire that Goodyear brought. Wonder if they can repeat it.

  4. John Cooke Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I agree with you on the tires. But, I think the drivers were going after it just like Daytona, wanting to be out front if the rain started again and the race was called. Might be time to consider having two 250 lap races, with a halftime break and both winners getting in the Chase!

  5. Michael in SoCal Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Tires that wear and a track that races, two things that Nascar desperately needs more of.

    What Nascar doesn’t need are Dull D cookie cutter 1.5 and 2.0 mile race tracks, and rock hard Flintstone tires.

  6. tp Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Rain also made the track raceable and unpredictable. Drivers were antsy since they didn’t know if it would go the distance. Make no mistake, the new Bristol is still bad. Just look at Saturday’s race for that. Not even 100 laps in and only 7 cars on the lead lap. No fan will pay $100 to go to a race knowing their driver is out of it by lap 100. And since passing is now so easy, you have a two lap window after getting lapped before he leader takes down the next car. You could be in 10th and be 3 cautions from being the lucky dog and perhaps have absolutely zero chance of winning. Horrible for the fans.

  7. Tony Geinzer Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Rich, couldn’t both of Bristol races be in the Summer? I feel I want Hoosier back in Sprint Cup partially because if 1 Goodyear Tire shreds, everyone else acts like they have tire issues.

  8. Bill B Says:
    March 18th, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    John Cooke,
    I have to laugh at the thought of two winners a week. That would really de-value a win and watch out, NASCAR will raise the number of chase drivers to 25…LOL