New Chase format puts premium on winning like by no means prior to
By: Jenna Fryer, The Linked Press on March 4, 2014
LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC – Joey Logano believes that points carry really small excess weight below the new Chase method.
Joey Logano lined up immediately behind Kevin Harvick and followed him nose-to-tail around the track and across the line for the final restart. He was stalking the leader, searching for what he knew would be his only likelihood to snatch the victory away from Harvick.
Logano aggressively darted within of Harvick and briefly flirted with making it a 3-broad race ahead of he ran out of genuine estate at Phoenix Worldwide Raceway. The move didn’;t function, but he had to go for it Sunday.
Underneath NASCAR’;s new emphasis on winning, there was small upside to Logano staying place these final 9 laps.
“It truly is all about the win, proper?” stated Logano, who was third on the final restart and settled for 4th. “Third place actually isn’;t going to mean something. Last 12 months, you may possibly have taken a third location and the points, but this yr it is like, ‘Hey, go for it.'”
NASCAR Chairman Brian France had grown to despise factors racing — that practice of a driver taking couple of hazards in the closing laps of a race, settling for a strong finish, thanking a long checklist of sponsors and the boys back at the store, then exulting on live tv about the fantastic points finish.
Factors racing was already in his cross-hairs final March, when feuding drivers Logano and Denny Hamlin refused to give an inch as they raced for the win at California. Their stubbornness led to a wreck that took them both out of contention on the last lap, and France was hooked.
He needed drivers to race with that exact same passion and need every single week and for wins to matter that considerably.
So France overhauled the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format, and a standard-season victory almost guarantees race winners a spot in the sixteen-driver field. It raised the stakes a week in the past at the finish of an currently frantic Daytona 500, and winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveled in his submit-race celebration about not obtaining to commit the up coming 6 months of the season worrying about the postseason.
“If everybody is telling the reality, we’;ve won a race, we should be in it so I’;m not going to be concerned about it,” he laughed.
Harvick secured the exact same fate on Sunday by holding off 4 separate challenges above the final forty laps to preserve the victory in a race he dominated. As he celebrated in Victory Lane with his new Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, he was greeted by new staff proprietor Gene Haas, who appeared bewildered by the consequences of Harvick’;s win.
“The factors aren’;t virtually as essential as the wins,” he stated in an virtually questioning tone. “We’;re speaking about the Chase previously.”
Certainly, in the 2nd race of the season, we’;re talking about the Chase already. So considerably so that Brad Keselowski, who has a pair of third-spot finishes to begin the season and is a mere 6 points out of the Sprint Cup Series points lead, is not stoked about what he’;s left on the table.
“It feels excellent to run up front, be competitive, but below this technique, wins are the only factors that count,” he said. “Final year, you would have stated seconds and thirds are fantastic, but this year they’;re not. They are so-so. Just know we have to be a small bit greater and move on from right here.”
As France said in the pre-race driver meeting before the Daytona 500, drivers have an opportunity each and every week to “punch their ticket” into the Chase.
They can not ride close to in second or third or fifth or eighth location any longer. They’;ve got to talk approach with their teams, crunch fuel-mileage numbers, take dangers and gambles. They’;ve acquired to go for broke when the opportunity exists. They’;ve got to give 100 %.
Logano has 3 occupation victories in 185 profession Sprint Cup starts. He does not know how many options he’;ll have to punch his ticket, so when he saw a chance, he did what France expects.
“With a win being so critical, you may as well go for it, and I attempted to stuff it in there, 3-broad,” he stated. “Gave up a spot by carrying out that, but overall it is all about the win.”
As the season progresses, teams may now try to stretch fuel far longer than ever just before. What’;s the harm in gambling? A Swan Racing or HScott Motorsports or Front Row Motorsports could use some trick technique to luck into a win, make the Chase and modify the total complexion of their program.
The format also offers a new lease to Danica Patrick, who a month ago just needed to regularly finish inside the prime twenty this season and enhance from last 12 months. But ought to she now get a win at a restrictor-plate race — or Michigan or Martinsville, where she runs properly — then out of the blue she’;s in the Chase, too.
All it will take is a decent run and, in some cases, throwing caution to the wind.
Earnhardt did it Sunday at Phoenix when crew chief Steve Letarte told him not to worry about conserving fuel — a get in touch with Letarte would have made even with out the Daytona 500 as a security net.
“The new program absolutely allowed us to be more carefree about that and not have to truly believe it above,” Earnhardt explained.
In the end, Harvick cruised to the win. But he knew absolutely everyone was going to get their best shot, just as they will all season lengthy.
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