What happens to the chase if Kenseth wins it?

Back in 2003, when Kenseth won his (so far) only championship, he did it by being consistent over the entire year, leading the points from the 4th race till the end of the season, and clinching the championship with 2 or 3 races left in the season, with only 1 win to his credit.

For 2004 – NASCAR instituted the “Matt Kenseth rule” of awarding more bonus points for wins, and also the most drastic change in the sports history by adding the chase. The underlying sentiment being that the guy who wins 1 race over the whole season shouldn’t be champion over the guy who won 8 (Ryan Newman).

It’s a bogus sentiment, but I believe that’s what prompted the change to the chase (that, and also trying to compete in TV ratings with football).

This year, with the incredible roll that Kenseth is on, he entered the first race of the chase leading the points, and has only increased his lead by winning the first two races.

So the question I have is: If Kenseth stinks up the chase and clinches the title with 2 races to go, never loses the lead, and wins a bunch more races, what will NASCAR do in reaction?

I have absolutely no confidence that they will do what is best for the sport.

Kesneth, wins last 2 races, now wins practice 1 at Dover

That team has stepped up an already impressive effort.

Friday practice for the AAA 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway is over, after 90 scheduled minutes, the top five, slowest and notes:
#20-Kenseth 163.473
#56-Truex Jr. 162.859
#22-Logano 162.624
#78-Busch 162.521
#18-Busch 162.506

5-hour energy back for 2014 with Bowyer

I’m sure Clint Bowyer is feeling a tiny bit more relieved now that 5-Hour energy has re-upped.

Incidentally, in the company president Scott Henderson’s widely reported quote:

“There’s a lot of talk about integrity,” he said. “When the guy who’s in charge can say, ‘I can do whatever I want and I’m going to do it and I just did,’ I wonder about integrity.

…it was unclear if he was referring to MWR or NASCAR’s Brian France. From the affirmation of sponsorship in 2014, it seems a little more obvious that it was aimed at Brian France and his “magical” fix of 13 chasers.

Hold on to your sponsors! New Hampshire edition.

This week we schmak about all things chase, sponsorship, New Hampshire race, you know, all the things that there are to schmak about.

Picks for next week:
Rob: Jeff Gordon
Coach: Jimmie Johnson

Our picks for the championship are currently 1-2 in the standings, and another chase driver has been erased in disgrace from our Alternate Race in the Chase.

For those playing the home game, we take the lowest finishing chase driver and eliminate him from the competition, which will leave us with 4 drivers competing for the title at Homestead (would have been 3 without the extra chaser).

After the second race in the chase, we have the following drivers still in the chase:

Matt Kenseth
Jimmie Johnson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick
Carl Edwards
Greg Biffle
Clint Bowyer
Dale Earnheardt Jr.
Kurt Busch
Ryan Newman
Jeff Gordon

Elminated so far:
Joey Logano (eliminated race 1 – Chicagoland)
Kasey Kahne (eliminated race 2 – New Hampshire)

Drivers approve of the new restart rules

Video from nascar.com.

Salient point – Jimmie Johnson effectively said that the new restart rule means that there is less of a chance for the leader to game the restart and force the 2nd place car to lift.

Mucking with the rules at Chicagoland

Recorded on Monday night, it took me until now to edit this thing and post it. Big week.

Anyway, we offer our punchy, tired, and yet very entertaining take on all the changes announced right before (and during) the race at Chicagoland.

We also discuss our mutual misunderstanding about who was picking whom for the chase championship (spoiler: neither of us wanted Carl Edwards).

New picks for the chase:
Rob: Matt Kenseth (most likely to win)
Coach: Kyle Busch (gotta pick someone).

Also – T-shirts have arrived! Party Planning to commence.

Picks for next week at New Hampshire:

Coach: Kurt Busch
Rob: Jimmie Johnson

NAPA dropping sponsorship of MWR

Wow – big news. NAPA had agreed to a 3 year sponsorship extension of Martin Truex Jr. last year, but today they are announcing that they are ending their sponsorship this year.

‘NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR,’ NAPA said in a statement. ‘We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.’

Once again, the guy who was not a part of the shenanigans gets penalized the most.

NASCAR really blew the call here. I think it’s becoming more clear that the call should have been to DQ Bowyer from the Chase, and figure out who should be in after that.

I think (but can’t be sure, because finding the points standings after Richmond, but before the points were reset is difficult), that Newman and Truex would have been in, and Gordon would still be looking in from the outside.

Then, if NASCAR was serious about the “quid pro quo” penalties on the 22 team, they could have also DQ’d Logano and put the next qualifying driver in, which would be Gordon. If they were serious about it.

Instead, NASCAR has created an unholy mess of things, and helped cost a top tier team their sponsorship. Does anyone think that NAPA would end their ties to MWR if the 55 team was in the chase and not tied into the cheating scandal, and instead the punishment was only handed out to the 15 and 55 teams?

Montoya to Penske… in Indy Car in 2014

Montoya to drive the #2 Team Penske Indy car next year, with teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

I guess AJ Allmendinger’s two lap one crashes at Detriot this year eliminated him from the ride.

Montoya should be really good over there, assuming he can get along with Helio and Will.

EDIT: choice quote from nbcsports.com

“Stunned shock” is probably the best way to describe the news Monday morning that Juan Pablo Montoya would move back to open-wheel racing in 2014, shifting from NASCAR to IndyCar and driving for Roger Penske.

Is there such a think as “un-stunned shock”? How about “stunned, but lacking in shock”?

Either way, the move back to open wheel is not news. The news is that he’s going to Ganassi rival Penske, and that he called off the Andretti deal. But still, not shocking or stunning, as far as I’m concerned.

Gordon added to chase – Lucky #13 on Friday the 13th

From nascar.com

“It is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded multiple different ways on Saturday night,” France said. “We believe this is the right outcome to protect the integrity, which is our No. 1 goal, of NASCAR.”

Because the best way to ensure integrity is to disregard your own rules for size and eligibility of your post-season championship field and inform the competitors after they’ve already completed practice and are prepping for qualifying.

What a mess.

Vickers Stands his Ground

In a somewhat remarkable piece for USA today, Brian Vickers says he has no regrets about pitting under green to help a teammate get into the chase.

If helping a teammate, friend and brother in arms is a crime, then I’m guilty. I didn’t make that call to pit last Saturday nor did I even understand why we did it at the time. But if my teammate(s) needed me again and it was of no consequence to me, my team or our partners, I would make the same decision time and time again.

Pulling over and letting a teammate pass has been going on ever since there have been multi-car teams. I think if Bowyer had just pitted and intentionally lost a bunch of laps, there wouldn’t be much outcry at all, and certainly no penalty. As we discussed on our latest podcast, the real issue with the MWR shenanigans is the fact that they didn’t simply help a teammate with a few positions on track, but that they took away positions and spots in the chase from two other teams that had earned them on the track.

Appologizing for the Cheaty McCheaterson 400 at Richmond

This week, we address the super-blatant cheating of the race at Richmond, and even include a poorly acted skit! Also, our opinionated take on the penalties, and our Chicago Chase Race prognostications.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Matt Kenseth
Rob: Joey Logano

Big Day for Newman

Saturday night Newman was out of the chase and hadn’t announced a ride for 2014.

Today, he’s in the chase and RCR announced he will be taking over the #31 Caterpillar Chevy for 2014.

How quickly things turn around.

Kyle Petty gets it wrong again

With the changing landscape around the Stewart-Hass release of Ryan Newman and subsequent expansion to four cars with Kurt Busch, it’d be easy to assume that Tony Stewart simply lied to Ryan Newman about the 2014 plan of SHR.

If you’re Kyle Petty, that’s exactly what you did:

“I was pretty disappointed to hear Kyle Petty say that we basically lied to Ryan and deceived Ryan,” Stewart said. “Deceived was the word that he used actually. They said we deceived him … in doing this.”

Why would Kyle Petty say such things? It’s pretty obvious that Stewart had no idea that Gene Haas was going go all “lone cowboy” and buy a fourth team for the 2014 season.

If Kyle Petty had bothered to talk to people involved, or even read one of the Gene Haas press interviews (see our report), he wouldn’t make such ridiculous statements.

But then, he is Kyle Petty. Wrong about Danica Patrick, wrong about Denny Hamlin, wrong about Stewart-Hass. Which other of the 40-odd teams and drivers will he be wrong about next? My guess is all of them.

Montoya visits Furniture Row

Headline says it all, really. From jayski

#78-Front Row Racing general manager Joe Garone confirmed to FOX Sports that Juan Pablo Montoya visited the Denver-based shop on Tuesday and remains on the teams shortlist to replace Kurt Busch in 2014. Garone also told FOX Sports that there has not been discussion between Furniture Row Racing and Jeff Burton, who will part ways with Richard Childress Racing at the end of the year.

Kickin’ it on an old school surface with new school tires in Atlanta

This week’s schmak is a little shorter than normal due to a tight recording schedule.

Still, plenty to schmak about – the race at Atlanta, the Max Papis schmak, and a Richmond preview.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Joey Logano
Rob: Clint Bowyer

And the Jimmie Johnson catastrophe of the week:
Coach: Spin
Rob: Blown tire

Burton out at RCR in 2014, more updates

Announced today, Jeff Burton will not be back in the 31 car for 2014. That leaves Richard Childress with one announced driver for 2014 – Paul Menard in the 27.

“We have been working hard to try and get all the funding in place to have four Sprint Cup teams in 2014,” Childress said. “With the date on the calendar getting closer to 2014, we just couldn’t run partially funded teams next year. Knowing what Jeff’s plans were in 2015, he and I worked out an agreement for him to step out of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet after this season.”

So, speculation is that Austin Dillon will be filling the vacated 29 car (and changing numbers to #3), and Ryan Newman will fill the 31, with Caterpillar still staying with Childress.

Also of note, Caterpillar is a partial season sponsor, and Ryan Newman brings Quicken Loans with him as a second partial season sponsor – could be a good match.