So today’s race I think has to go down as the weirdest set of messed up decisions in NASCAR history. It started with an early rain delay. Nothing to big, just slowed the mood down rather hard… About 30 minutes later (roughly the same time that the Vikings lost), the race got going.
Let the weirdness begin…
It turns out there is another line of thunderstorms moving in. It was one of those relatively short thunderstorms that dump a lot of rain for an hour and then sunlight right after. It arrived at the track, causing a second rain delay. Now a few things had happened at this point:
- They had made it half way – In NASCAR, this makes it an official race.
- Tony Stewart was winning
- A good number of the “chase” drivers were a lap down due to making green flag pit stops prior to the rain. (Something Tony hadn’t done)
- The track was wet.
Now this has happened before… In fact, earlier this season, rain moved in on a race at Pocono just past half way allowing Jeff Gordon to be declared the winner. I believe NASCAR said then that they would not resume the race if they could not finish it, and that was why they didn’t finish the race with Jeff Gordan leading (that and it rained the rest of the day).
Today however, NASCAR announced that because they knew the storm would clear (like I said, it was just a line of storms), that they would resume the race but stop it early at lap 225 because they were going to run out of daylight. Kansas doesn’t have lights.
So NASCAR goes back on precedent and starts a race KNOWING it can’t finish it…. OK… So probably a bad call, but really, who cares… Let’s just race and see what happens, how bad can it get?
The race resumes and Tony Stewart has to pit for fuel immediately. This causes him to keep his position of first place on the track, but it puts a lot of cars in front of him that are “on the lead lap” (It’s hard to explain if you’ve never seen it happen, but basically there are a bunch of cars in front of him, that are behind him, when they start again).
Sure enough, the cars in front of Tony crash, taking him out (well not directly), along with Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin… I think someone said that today 7 of the 12 Chase drivers end up having an accident today… Which is crazy considering I think 1 did before the rain started.
In any case, due to the caution… Nascar has to shorted the race again, to 210 laps… Ok, this is just getting messed up… Making the race shorter and shorter dramatically affects the strategy.
Then came the finish…
With 4 laps to go, Juan Pablo Montoya blows a tire and brings out yet another caution. At this point, the sun is down, and has been for 6 minutes. NASCAR again bends it’s own rule and says that the race WILL end on lap 210, without a Green, White, Checked (which is what normally would happened). There were at least 2 cars behind Greg Biffle that could have won under a Green, White, Checkered.
I wish I could stop here and say that it ended there with the weirdness…. But, sadly…
As the race is about to finish, Greg Biffle slows down. Now, the rules as I understand it, the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line, even if the field is frozen… Because you have to cross the line… If you run out of gas under caution, and you can’t finish… Then you can’t finish…
Well needless to say… Greg Biffle slows down, and 3 cars manage to cross the finish line before him. It looks as though he is simply slowing down to do some spins… Of course he drives into the grass, and, according to him, gets stuck (not run out of gas). Well… I don’t know what the rule is… He did cross the line, but I thought I always hear that you had to maintain pace car speed. So we’ll see how this race all plays out…
Now, it worked out rather well for me. Jeff Gordan stays very much alive in the chase thanks to going back to racing. However, I think there is something that is entirely wrong here, and should be address… Here’s some ways I would fix it:
- Possibility #1 : All races must finish 100% – This seems like a simple fix… If it rain delays… You delay the whole race. You resume where it left off a whole day later if you have to… You don’t restart it. You just finish it when you can. Seems simple. The only things that might go wrong are your TV schedules and car adjustments for track conditions… But really, who cares, I would rather have a “fair” race with rules that don’t change than the problems today.
- Possibility #2 – Keep it as you would normally, with the 1/2 race to make it official, etc. BUT install lights at all these tracks and set an amount of time that you must resume within… So if the rain delay adds more than 4 hours total, the race is called or something of that nature.
- Possibility #3 – Pro-rate points and just call the race in the even of a significant rain delay. If they did this, Tony Stewart could have won today, but it would have minimized the impact the strangeness would have had on the chase by reducing the point spread by half (or whatever percentage of the laps were finished).
That would at least address the red flag rain issues, and hopefully would have help to prevent the rest of the chaos that happened today. The key is, you can’t be adjusting the rules as the day goes on… No matter who benefits from it, or who hurts from it. I love that it helped Jeff today, but I would have taken Tony to win if it would have meant all this craziness from happening this afternoon.
NASCAR owes it to the fan’s to keep the rules fair and simple. Nascar does not owe the drivers anything but safety. Nascar does not owe the media a full race. And they surely don’t own the Nascar sport call-in shows this much to talk about tomorrow.
I suppose I should do something other than watch NASCAR… If you want to read more, check out these sites: