LONDON: The Racing Journal
VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — In announcing the new rules for NASCAR’s Chase, you have to give NASCAR Chairman Brian France credit. He did it with a straight face.
The Chase, said by many to be the biggest overblown fraud in racing, had more bells and whistles added to it. But again, without much substance.
I won’t get into all the details because it’s hard enough to stay awake in this cold weather. They will start with 16 drivers. Apparently they will keep adding more contenders until Danica Patrick can make it. So I guess it might rise to 25. Better make that 30. In five years only Joe Nemecek won’t be eligible for the Chase.
Making the initial Chase will now be easier for solid-running teams. The first thing I thought of was that several NASCAR drivers want to try the Indy 500.
It has already been proved that running the Indy 500 and the World 600 at Charlotte is a difficult task — racing 1,100 miles in a little more than half a day.
Somebody at NASCAR must have thought of that too. It is stated in order to be Chase eligible, you must attempt to qualify for all 26 preliminary races.
My thought was to skip Charlotte altogether and just run Indy.
Kurt Busch has already indicated he wants to race at Indianapolis in the 500. Tony Stewart, a native Hoosier would love to. After accepting his winning NASCAR car owner award in 2012, Roger Penske invited “Smoke” to drive one of his cars at Indy.
The Indy 500 is the one obstacle to Stewart being called the greatest racer ever. NASCAR left itself open as a driver could qualify for the World 600 and put another driver in his car. Look for NASCAR to amend that. If there is anything NASCAR hates, it’s the Indy 500.
The Indy 500 would benefit greatly with some top American drivers in its lineup.
Meanwhile the Chase will continue to fall flat on its face, like it has the last 10 years. When you run 26 races in a season, why must only 10 of them determine the champion?
The Daytona 500, the World 600 and the Brickyard 400 are not part of the Chase finale. Neither are NASCAR’s most traditional race, the Southern 500, and any race at the very popular Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.