A few thoughts from a slacker missing a second straight Chase weekend. (Why am I missing Kansas? My daughter’s about to have her first child and I am on standby alert):
But that’s a really, really bad idea.
If the No. 8 car blows a tire in Turn 2 of its qualifying lap and doesn’t post a speed, how do you tell the ticket buyers who show up on Sunday that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won’t be racing? Or Jeff Gordon, or whoever your favorite driver is?
Tracks sell tickets weeks and months in advance. There’s an implied promise that the sport’s top stars are going to be competing. That’s one of NASCAR’s selling points, that all of the "best of the best" are going to be there at one time.
Now a driver could get hurt and miss a race or something, but there’s no control over that. Otherwise, your stars have to race and there needs to be a reasonable way to make that happen. It’s reasonable to ask a team to be in the top 35 (it’d be 30 if I ran things) to have that protection, but the protection has to be there.
I’ll be stunned if sweeping alterations are made. Remember, the word Brian France used in July when he changes would be considered was "tweaks."
I’ve proposed my own revamping of the system and so have many others, but that’s not what is being looked at. It’s not going to be a wholesale alteration.
There seems to be a consensus that winning a race should be worth more points. But it’s not going to 50 more, it’s going to be more like 10 additional points for a win.
The window to make the Chase might grow from 400 points behind first after 26 races to 500 points, but that’s not that big of a change either and even that might not happen.
I will be less surprised, but still surprised, if the number of automatic qualifiers grows beyond 10. As for any kind of "wild card" to let in a driver who’s won races and yet isn’t in the top 10 at the Chase cutoff, I think that idea intrigues NASCAR. But I also think they’re worried about how to write a rule that doesn’t wind up biting them in some kind of unforeseen, quirky way.
Keep the free pass for a lapped car on each yellow, but all lap-down cars start behind the cars on the lead lap. The leader can choose whether to start on the inside or the outside. Second chooses whether to start alongside the leader or right behind him. Third then chooses and so on. With 25 (maybe even 50) laps to go, all restarts are single-file.
Some of the speculation was that the IRL might be looking at a Labor Day weekend date for a race there next year or, more likely, in 2008. There’s also the weekend between the Rolex 24 and the start of Speedweeks for NASCAR, but that’s also Super Bowl weekend and I think the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend is a better idea.
One reason that might not happen? An IRL race at Daytona that afternoon might be a lot more interesting to watch than that night’s Nextel Cup race from California.
With him and Juan Montoya both in the field for Friday’s Automobile Racing Club of America race at Talladega, there will be a lot more media hanging around for that event than there otherwise would be.
I could be completely wrong about this, but I just believe Allmendinger is pulling a "Danica" with this whole flirtation with NASCAR. By every indication, he’s an incredibly talented driver and I don’t doubt that he might make it in stock cars given time and the right team. But he doesn’t have a contract with anybody in ChampCar, and using NASCAR as a lever certainly helped Danica Patrick maximize her earning potential.