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Minter: Points Don’t Always Add Up To Excitement

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 26 2011

Tony Stewart in the No. 4 car shades Clint Bowyer at the finish of the Nationwide Series race in Daytona. Neither earned points for the finish. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

A Speedweeks that will go down as one of the most memorable in history provided great drama in all three major NASCAR races, and it wasn’t the manufactured kind, it just happened.

Michael Waltrip won Friday’s truck race, on the 10th anniversary of his breakthrough Cup victory, which came on the same day Dale Earnhardt died. Waltrip did get a break as his rear spoiler obviously wasn’t meeting the rules, but series officials chose not to black flag him, and instead penalized his crew chief $25,000 four days later.

Tony Stewart surged ahead to score a photo-finish win in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, his fourth straight triumph in that event, which he seems to be able to win with ease unlike the Daytona 500, where he’s winless to date, a scenario that sounds an awful lot like much of Dale Earnhardt’s career.

And then on Sunday, a fresh-faced, clean-cut kid from Tennessee, Trevor Bayne, took the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane for the first time anywhere since 2001 and the first time in the Daytona 500 since 1976.

The interesting thing about all three victories, as some of my colleagues have already written, is that none of those three winners received any points.

The point is that points aren’t what makes racing exciting. It may even be more likely that points

Michael Waltrip steams past Elliott Sadler to win the Camping World race at Daytona. It was a pointless thriller. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

drag down racing.

Consider the quote by Daytona 500 runner-up Carl Edwards in a story on RacinToday.com by Mike Harris: “I’m going to go to Phoenix and look at the points and think this was OK. We’ll race the Daytona 500 again next year. We are going to have bad days, so it’s nice to get out of that one, considering the chaos that was going on, it’s nice to get out with a great points run.’’

Nothing personally against Carl, but a “great points run” isn’t the kind of talk that makes one want to go out and buy one of his t-shirts.

And it’s not the kind of talk that makes one want to go out and buy tickets for an upcoming race.

NASCAR can’t thrive focusing too much on points. And it’s foolish for series officials to think they can manufacture a finish for the season finale at Homestead that rivals the Super Bowl or the seventh game of the World Series.

The problem is that unlike the finales of other sports, the Homestead race is much like the other 35 points-paying races on the schedule. Last year’s last-race shootout between Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick was really nothing new. They’d been racing each other for 35 straight races. Would the Super Bowl have been as interesting if the Packers and Steelers had already gone head-to-head numerous times?

The best thing that could happen for NASCAR at this point is for some other stirring storyline to develop this week at Phoenix and others to surface unexpectedly in the coming weeks.

Then maybe those “good points run” quotes could be left to team press releases.

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

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 26 2011
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Congrats to Michael Waltrip for winning the race. I used to watched car racing since then. In fact I have my friend whose joining in the same competition. On the championship day, in the middle of the competition he committed an accident. He got so many bruises and have his bone dislocated. Sad to say he can’t drive and join competition anymore.

  • Terry says:

    Ok,… RICK what’s your point ?
    Sorry couldn’t help myself.
    The first time I ever really paid any attention to the dang #’s was when I was yelling for BILL ELLIOTT’S win at ATLANTA and realized that AK’s Hooter’s “underbird ” was that years Champ. I was happy for him but wished Bill had won.
    I am looking at these races week to week for winners, good-hard-clean racing,
    and not overheating my TV mute button.
    I just never got into the whole points thing.