Reminder: Auto Racing Is Not Stick-And-Ball
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Auto racing has been around like, what, more than a hundred years, right? Yet there are still people in media centers at race tracks who can’t quite get the basics of the sport nailed. How else to explain some of the questions that are asked of drivers and teams.
Like the question making the rounds at Dover this weekend.
“Can you,” Greg Biffle was asked during his media center Q and A, “make the case why this isn’t a three-man race for the title?”
At the risk of offending those who do know the basics of racing, here are a few facts: The Chase is just two weeks into it’s two and a half month run. There are thousands of laps left to be run. There are four times that many turns to be made. There are scores of pit stops to be performed. There are hundreds of points to be won and lost. There are miles of concrete walls to avoid. There are tens of thousands of exceedingly breakable mechanical parts in play. There are millions of fate-deciding decisions to be made.
Right now, the difference between Chase leader Matt Kenseth and Chase back marker Joey Logano is 69 points. Between them are 10 others top teams and drivers who are all capable of winning races and jumping on any mistakes/bad luck that should befall the others around them.
And you better believe that sometime between the start of the race at Dover on Sunday and the end of the race at Homestead-Miami in Nov-freaking-ember, mistakes and/or bad luck is going to befall every competitor in the Chase.
The standings of today in no way will resemble the standings a week, month, two months from now.
Try to remember: This isn’t baseball or football where you can only gain or lose one spot to the teams ahead and behind you each time you take to the field. On any given Sunday – or Saturday night – a driver/team can drop six, seven or more places in the standings.
At Talladega in three weeks, huge chunks of Chasers could fly to pieces.
Biffle, fifth in points and 39 behind Kenseth, understandably had his patience tested by the three-man-Chase question on Friday.
“The Chase,” the Roush Fenway driver said, “from what I understand, is made up of 10 races and to be two races into the Chase and say it’s a three-man race already, to me, seems silly as to why somebody would want to put themselves in that position and say it’s a three-man race.”
Sarcasm was bumped aside by a tinge of disbelief that the question would be asked.
“Obviously, you don’t have anything on the line,” Biffle said. “It’s not like we’re making a wager in Vegas that it’s a three-man race. It’s somebody’s opinion and everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t imagine with eight races to go that somebody would be willing to say, ‘Oh, this is a three-man race.’
“Take for instance last week, we finished third and moved up six spots in the points to fifth. I don’t know how one would say it’s a three-man race. Now, if Kenseth goes on and wins the title does that mean it’s a three-man race or does that mean it’s a one-man race? I don’t know. I just think there are more than three cars in this thing right now. Now, if we get past Talladega and there are four races to go or three races to go, I could see that. But they could break for three races in a row and maybe not even go to Vegas and not even be in the top 10.”
Biffle took a breath.
Then, “So I’d say it’s a little early is all I was getting at. I wouldn’t be the one putting my name on the line to say there are only three cars in this hunt right now. I wasn’t necessarily saying that for the 16 team. I wasn’t making the case that it’s not a three-man race because of us, I wouldn’t count out Carl Edwards or any of those other guys that are right there in the hunt. Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, I wouldn’t be counting those guys out just yet is all I was saying.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments