|Chicagoland Speedway, Wikipedia|
The first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship is now behind us--finally! It was a long road to hoe, but the championship battle has commenced.
My observations to follow this long week of racing news is as follows:
Adding Jeff Gordon to the chase:
As much as I recognize that Jeff Gordon seemingly got robbed by the events during the race at Richmond that affected the final race of the regular 2013 season, I'm not sure it made sense to simply add his name to the roster. When that was done to add Ryan Newman to the Chase, NASCAR went out of its way to justify it. Newman wasn't simply given a chase berth because he would likely have won the race that was stolen from him when Clint Bowyer spun out his car, Newman was added because the points dictated it. He was tied with Martin Truex, Jr. who as a Michael Waltrip Racing driver was penalized 50 points. The same wasn't true for Gordon, which once again shows NASCAR's inconsistency, a problem they never quite seem to grapple with.
Michael Waltrip Racing penalties:
If it was possible to simply add Gordon to the chase, why wasn't the same action accorded Martin Truex, Jr.? He too was a victim of the overall incident at Richmond. Clearly he had no knowledge of the team orders for which he was an innocent beneficiary. Truex was the one victim in this whole story and he was the only one given no consideration. That was patently unfair. I believe Gordon was added because NASCAR tends to favor him. There have been countless other incidents, like when NASCAR calls a race for rain at just the right moment, or when caution is called for debris that no one sees.
Clint Bowyer points penalties
Clint Bowyer's spin, which started the events that changed the face of the championship field, was intentional, by all accounts except that of Bowyer himself. I believe it to be as well, based on the video of his in-car camera as well as so much feedback from drivers and former drivers turned analysts. NASCAR could have gone back to the technology available to them to prove the spin was intentional, but they didn't. Rather than make it right they would have had to admit they were wrong. The decision-makers are the same ones that initially said there was no problem with the spin. NASCAR doesn't often admit when they are wrong. But I think they were wrong! They should have investigated this further.
For Bowyer to receive a points penalty in the regular season points standings was ineffectual. The penalty should have been after the reseeding for the chase. This was totally wrong on NASCAR's part. The result of their action was moot. Bowyer should not have been allowed to run for the championship in the same manner than the rest of the field of drivers. By comparison, what happened to Bowyer and Truex--well--there is no comparison. Bowyer, who caused this mess came out smelling like a rose while Truex paid the price. That is wrong!
Penske Racing and Furniture Row Racing
Probation for Penske Racing--again--and Furniture Row Racing was meaningless, yet the video transmission about dealmaking was alarming. How many times have these deals altered the results of a race in the past? Will it happen again in the future? This did result in NASCAR cracking down on having only one spotter per team with no digital radios and cell phones allowed.
I applaud NASCAR for loosening the restart rules that were never followed anyway. This is the closest thing to an admission that they were wrong in trying to police restarts, for which they failed miserably.
Painfully long rain delay
NASCAR did the right thing by re-starting the race after the rain. It was a good race overall and certainly worth the wait.
Thank goodness for Twitter
Thanks to Twitter, I was able to follow all the nuances of the painfully long week of news related to what was deemed "spingate." I feel as though I was as informed as I wanted to be, limited only by my own curiosity. NASCAR news men and women did a Yeoman's job reporting all of the events surrounding this bizarre week that began at Richmond Saturday night and continued until the conclusion of the rain-delayed first race of the Chase Sunday night at Chicagoland. Heck, it was almost Monday morning by the time the race ended.
Kudos to the news media
A special shout out to all of them for keeping race fans apprised of what was happening during all the drama unfolding throughout the previous week. They did a fine job, interviewing drivers, staying on top of NASCAR officials, asking all the right questions, and coming up with excellent analysis.