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Reminder: Bowyer Won Final Non-Chase Race

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 13 2012

Clint Bowyer won Richmond but was not the big story last weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Racing thoughts from the last week or so:

Quick: Who won the race at Richmond?

The point: Probably the most irrelevant person in racing every year is the driver who wins the Sprint Cup race at Richmond in September. Unless, of course, that driver needed the win to get into the Chase; like Jeremy Mayfield in 2004.

When the race at Richmond began last Saturday evening, Clint Bowyer was already locked into the Chase. Not so for some of the sports’ biggest stars.

So, when the race ended early Sunday morning, there was low-glam Bowyer playing to a less-than-attentive audience in the media center.

While his press conference was short by post-race standards, it was pretty entertaining.

Best line: When asked what would it mean to win a championship, Bowyer said, “To win a championship? It would be pretty big. Helluva lot of fun. Jimmie seems like he has a blast doing it. I promise you I could throw a better party than him. Might not survive it, but we would have a lot of fun.”

Having sat across a table from some of Bowyer’s buds at Bruff’s Bar and Grill in their hometown of Emporia,

Clint Bowyer got the victory at Richmond. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Kan., the guess here is that he’s spot on with that statement.

The thought here, also, is that Bowyer was spot on when he said this post race: “I truly believe if Mark Martin was driving for the championship, we’d (Michael Waltrip Racing) have all three cars in the Chase. We’ve run well, been solid as an organization. If Mark was racing for it, I’m almost positive he would be in it.”

NASCAR will add another road race to the Sprint Cup schedule in the near future. Evidence toward that seems to be building. If/when a third road race is added to the Cup schedule, look for it to be a Chase event.

Where would that race be?

As Atlanta-based RacinToday.com colleague Rick Minter points out, NASCAR now has a pime site it – Road Atlanta.

Road Atlanta is a historic, internationally respected venue which was recently acquired by the folks who own NASCAR. It came as part of the deal which brought the American Le Mans and Grand-Am sports car series together.

The track, which as hosted the Petit Le Mans event for many years, has always been suited to big time stock-car racing. Now it is owned by people who can grant that kind of racing.

Plus, it is in a warm-weather location which opens up desirable scheduling possibilities. With loud talk that the Camping World Truck Series will add a road venue, look for it to be at Road Atlanta.

How competitive is Cup? Two of its very best drivers are not in the playoffs. And, a team that has never produced a Chase driver before has two drivers in the field.

The two non-Chasers are Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. (Please, don’t argue that they are not two of the very best wheelmen in Cup; you’ll only embarrass yourself.)

So, why are they not in the Chase? Competition. The fact is, there are 20 – or more – teams and drivers who can consistently run top-10 in races.

Bad luck and screw-up by others has always played a role in determining race and championship outcomes in racing. In today’s Cup series, however, overcoming those things is more difficult that it has ever been.

Kind of a pity rain washed out the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals on its regularly scheduled weekend. It just seemed to lose some of it pizzaz when it fired back up last weekend after a week’s delay.

Not that it sucked. But, the eliminations at the Nats are one of those special days in racing and it just seemed a bit of drama was rinsed away.

The NHRA’s six-race Countdown begins this weekend at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. It does so with some puzzling questions surrounding it. Like:

– What has happened to Summit KB Racing? Former champions Greg Anderson and Jason Line are in full-struggle mode.

– What’s happened to Robert Hight? Early in season, he looked like he was head to record season. Put his name in the full-struggle mode column as the Countdown begins.

– What is up with Erica Enders specifically and Victor Cagnazzi’s Pro Stock team generally. It’s looking like, well, Summit Racing.

– What must the NHRA do to slow down the Harley’s of Vance & Hines? Added weight sure hasn’t done the job this year.

– Will a Top Fuel car with a canopy win the championship?

It’s not just Danica Patrick who had a bad couple of days. Her high-profile sponsor – controversial web-domain-registering giant and tasteless-commercial maker, GoDaddy – melted down on Tuesday.

It is unclear if GoDaddy was hacker-attacked or just suffered an IT failure. But, reportedly, large numbers of the company’s customers were left without service.

Not among the websites having trouble: Patrick’s. So, refreshingly, the NASCAR star finally avoided a crash.

Finally…just me or did the lineup of officials at the dais for last week’s sports car merger announcement look more like a jury in a murder case than proud owners of an exciting new racing series? Smile, guys, the war is over.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 13 2012
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