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Minter: Winners Are Losers In Chase To The Chase

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 1 2010

Jamie McMurray has won the two biggest races of the season and may not make the Chase. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

A few random thoughts as the NASCAR circuit heads to the home turf, Atlanta Motor Speedway:

The prospect of a Chase field with more than its share of non-winners – and a no-win champion for that matter – looms large with just two races left to run before the start of the Chase.

While driver after driver at Bristol insisted it’s fine to have a non-winner wear the Cup crown, I couldn’t help but think of my old friend David Poole and his solution for situations like this.

I may not have the numbers exactly right, but I think I’m close. Poole’s idea was to award each driver a 500-point bonus for his first win of the season. Of course, if an extra 500 points had been on the line all year, some race results might have been different, but if that system had been in place this year, all of the circuit’s winners would be in the top 12 today. Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards would be in the elite group. Interestingly, those two are among the strongest runners heading down the stretch and have earned a spot in the Chase.

And Kevin Harvick, the most consistent of drivers all season long, would still be the points leader under the Poole formula.

Whoever thinks NASCAR doesn’t need a strong media corps should think about how much stronger the Chase field would look this morning if Poole’s idea had been put in place.

My fellow Georgians, Zaxby’s co-founder Tony Townley and race-driving son John Wesley, ought to get at least some of the credit for Boris Said’s upset win at Montreal on Sunday.

Said’s car owner, Robby Benton, was about down to his last dollar recently when he traveled to the Townley’s home near Athens and convinced John Wes to give racing another try. Townley had been wounded by his firing from Richard Childress Racing and had shown no interest in returning to the Nationwide Series before Benton’s visit.

But after that, the Zaxby’s money starting flowing again, even though it was at a reduced rate, and Benton was able to press on and be there to collect the trophy at Montreal in one of the greatest upsets ever in NASCAR, at least where team owners are concerned.

John Wes Townley will be back in the No. 09 Ford this weekend.

Atlanta Motor Speedway should be basking in the glow of a 50th anniversary celebration this week, but with the loss of one of its race dates just announced, it’s like one side of the Golden Anniversary couple filed for divorce just after the party invitations went out.

Still there will be much to celebrate, including a gathering of fans who attended the first race back in 1960.

It’s fitting that on the same weekend a cornerstone track like AMS celebrates its 50th anniversary, another bastion, the 63-year-old North Wilkesboro Speedway, will host its first stock car race since 1996 when the PASS South Super Late Model Series runs a 200 lapper.

And the recently announced reorganization of NASCAR’s PR department is an interesting development. While the NASCAR PR types do some things really well, they’re not much use at others.

The real weakness in the NASCAR PR world is with the team PR reps, some of whom see their jobs as to keep the media away from their drivers instead of facilitating communication.

Hopefully the new NASCAR PR machine will address that.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 1 2010
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