Tag Archives: Sprint Cup

Put an Offense Mentality in the Chase – Revisited

In the first round of the Chase Martin Truex Jr. won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. It begged the question. What if you can eliminate drivers from the Chase by winning multiple races?  So what would have happened?

In the round of 16, Martin Truex Jr. won two races and Kevin Harvick one. Both drivers were Chase Contenders. Because Truex won two races then one driver would be eliminated from the Round of 12 in the addition to the four originally planned. Martin Truex Jr. would have then eliminated a potential contender. In this case that driver was Austin Dillon the lowest in points of the 12 Chase drivers who did not win a race.

In the round of 12 (only 11 drivers), Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won races. All were Chase Contenders. Kevin Harvick, because this was his second Chase win would eliminate a driver from the Round of 8. This is where it potentially gets confusing. Since there was only 11 drivers the bottom four are eliminated. They are Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. Carl Edwards the next lowest in points of the Chase drivers who did not win a race would be eliminated due to Harvick’s win. This would leave Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick. Only six drivers because of the two multiple wins.

In the round of 8 (only 6 drivers), Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano won races.  In this case Johnson and Logano had already won races so they would have eliminated two drivers from the final race (Race of four). Because a driver who wins in a round automatically moves on to the next round this would leave only Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano to fight it out at Homestead Miami for the Championship.

Although this format didn’t appear to eliminate the Champion from winning, it did change who was a contender for the Championship. It would have also changed the complexity and strategy of the last race. It puts an even greater emphasis on winning which is what NASCAR intended with this format.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 322798 Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Win and Advance in the Chase, Win Again and Eliminate a Chaser

Martin Truex Jr. was caught a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway. He was fast, so fast that he all but unlapped himself. Fast forward to this past week at Dover International Speedway and Martin Truex Jr. was real fast. He was so fast that he almost lapped the field. When he won there were only six cars on the lead lap. Truex has now won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Wining one race automatically advances you to the next round of the Chase. Winning another race may keep another competitor who may have needed to win from advancing. In this case it did not since Kyle Busch already had enough points to advance. It does get one to question what could be done with multiple wins in the Chase. Can there be a way to encourage and reward it.

Here is an idea. What if drivers win multiple races in the Chase and an extra driver is eliminated from the Chase in each round of a multiple win. For instance this round Martin Truex Jr. won two races in the first round. The next round of the Chase is the Round of 12. Since he won an additional race then the next round could have only 11 drivers; 16 drivers minus the scheduled 4 plus an extra one.

Kevin Harvick won the second race of the Round of 16. If he should win another race in the Round of 12 then another driver would be eliminated for the Round of 8 such that there would only be 7 drivers in that round.

Extrapolating out if Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. should happen to win three races in the Round of 12 then there would only be 5 drivers in the Round of 8.  If this pattern continues then Harvick and Truex would be left to fight it out at Homestead Miami Speedway.

If Truex were to win all three races of the round of 8 then he would win the Championship prior to Homestead Miami Speedway.

Think about it. Right now you win to guarantee to advance in a round but you race to maintain your position in the standings to advance. This format throws some Offense into the game. Win and advance. Win again to eliminate your competition. This just ramps it up to a whole new level.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 321972 Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images

Kyle Busch is the Tiger Woods of the NASCAR XFINITY Series

This week Brian Costa wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal titled “How Golf Got Out of the Woods”. It hit me like a brick. The gist of the article was that in 2006 Woods was so dominating and was the only draw to the sport. There were no other stars. Tiger Woods was the one and only draw. Golf has many stars in the tour that can win and compete against one another since Tiger no longer is the show. The NASCAR XFINITY Series is where the PGA Tour was in the mid 2000’s. Read the article here.

To be clear this story isn’t just about Kyle Busch. It’s about a second tier series whose stars or future stars are in the shadow of the Sprint Cup Series stars. This past race at Texas Motor Speedway the race winner was the reigning Sprint Cup Champion, Kyle Busch. Busch has won four of the six XFINITY races this season. Third place went to previous Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in fifth and had some air time.

Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson, though still a young driver, led the second highest of 38 laps. Austin Dillon was also in the race and finished eighth. The only bright spot is Eric Jones, a series rookie in the same equipment as Busch, seemed to have something for Busch and came in second.

Every time this subject comes up fans of those drivers say that they need to be there so people will watch the race. The need to be there so people will go to the race. Those thoughts seam valid except it’s not working. Viewership is down year in and out.

The point is that the XFINITY Series does not have its own stars, its own rivalries. Case in point; Ask yourself who is the current points leader of the Series? Were they even on TV for any significant time? I bet many don’t know without looking it up.

Daniel Suarez is the current point’s leader. Elliott Sadler is just behind him one point back. Justin Allgaier is third nine points back. They were shown a few times on TV but does anyone want to watch the series championship while they are battling for a top ten.

Back to the article; the quote that hit me was from Geoff Ogilvy who was paired with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at Medinah in 2006. Ogilvy said. “I don’t think golf is better without Tiger, from a fan’s perspective. But no Tiger has shown people that there are other golfers worth watching.”

That quote substituting “Tiger” for “Cup Driver” is and of itself what it is all about. The future of all the NASCAR Series may just depend on it especially as our stars retire.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 318383 Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

 

Does Anyone Have Anything for Superman at Martinsville?

Jimmie Johnson has as perfect a driver rating at Martinsville Speedway as a driver can have of 118.4.  This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action from the Easter break. Does anyone have anything for Jimmie Johnson?

To reiterate a perfect driver rating is 150. The only way a driver can have a perfect rating is if they lead all the laps and win the race. It is impossible for a driver after many races, in this case 22 races to have a perfect rating. A dominating driver will have a rating of 120. Johnson is almost there.

If it was up to me we would race at Martinsville more than two times a year, it’s a special place for me, and my Lowe’s team.” Johnson added, “I had a great weekend off with the family, we are still so excited to have won California and heading to one of my favorite tracks. I’m ready to get back behind the wheel.

Martinsville is one of the hardest tracks in NASCAR. That is what makes Johnson’s driver rating so impressive. There is hope though.

Denny Hamlin, the winner of this race last year, also has an impressive driver rating of 110. Of active drivers Hamlin is second only to Johnson in wins with five to his eight.  Jimmie Johnson has not won this race since the spring of 2013.

I think it will be another fight this weekend to get the win at Martinsville. We have had a lot of success over the years at that track and seem to battle the same guys each year for the win.” Hamlin added, “Jimmie (Johnson) is obviously strong there and our teammates will be tough to beat. Friday’s qualifying is big in terms of getting a good pit stall and on Sunday it’s important to have a mistake-free race. Any sort of issue or penalty can get you a couple laps down in a hurry and spoil a good day. I believe our FedEx Camry will be up front competing for another win.

As Denny Hamlin noted it is important to have a mistake-free race. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick will be there to pounce and scoop up the win. Last year Joey Logano and his teammate Brad Keselowski worked well together but just couldn’t get it done in spite of leading many laps between them in both races. They will also be a factor. If any of these drivers can qualify up front and race mistake free they will have something for Johnson or Hamlin.

If you cannot get to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 it will be broadcast live on FS1 Sunday April 3rd, 2016 at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 318109 Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

Driver Rating
Martinsville Speedway
STP 500
Provided by NASCAR Statistics Stats Represent Points Races From 2005-Present
Rank Car Driver Team Avg. Finish High Rating Avg. Rating
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s 6.9 149.1 118.4
2 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground 8.1 141.1 110.6
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nationwide 11.9 133.1 99.4
4 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s 75 15.1 133.4 96.5
5 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s 14.7 129 94.6
6 15 Clint Bowyer Aaron???s 13.7 127.9 92.5
7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil 14.9 121.9 89.7
8 2 Brad Keselowski AutoTrader 15.5 114.9 87.8
9 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald???s 16.8 114.4 86.9
10 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar 14.5 109.6 86.5
11 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General 13.9 134.6 85.9
12 19 Carl Edwards Arris 15.5 121.1 81.5
13 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy / Haas 21.2 115.8 80.2
14 14 Brian Vickers Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 19.2 112.4 79.4
15 5 Kasey Kahne Panasonic 20.5 112.8 77.5

NASCAR Charter Agreement and Qualifying

At the beginning of the season NASCAR implemented a Charter Agreement to provide some financial stability to the teams. It wasn’t really obvious if this would mean anything to or affect racing for a NASCAR fan. Now that we are five weeks into the season we can see how this has impacted racing and qualifying.

36 teams who have been racing full time for three years prior were granted Charters. Those teams are guaranteed to make the race each and every weekend. The field was shortened from 43 cars to 40 cars leaving only four spots in the field that can be filed by teams who do not have Charters.

There is some irony in that this is similar to the Top 35 qualifying rule which guaranteed the top 35 teams would make the filed. This rule was eliminated in 2013 with the hope to make qualifying more exciting.

Qualifying at Daytona was mostly like it always has been the only exception was the shorter field. 44 cars tried to make the race.

The next four weeks though were not. Only 39 cars entered each race so the field ended up one car short than a full field. Every car entered made the race. There are only 39 cars entered for this week at AutoClub Speedway.

The best thing about these shorter fields is that most all the cars in the field were racing most if not all of the laps. No more field fillers.

It would seem counter intuitive to actually put effort into qualifying if you are locked into making the race anyway. In reality qualifying has been every bit as important as it has always been. Those teams who have qualified at the front of the field are the same ones that are leading laps and winning races.

The new NASCAR Charter System appears to be a success for those team owners who have them. It has not affected actual action on the track in anyway.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 317998 by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images