Focused On Racing, Not Chasing


Here is a truism: wherever there is more than one, there’s racing. The fact there would be auto racing was an eventuality, the moment the second car was made. Competition is hard-wired into our into our guts. Whose car is faster? Which one will hold up longer? Who will contrive the plan that enables them to first finish so they can finish first? These are all things we want to and got to know; otherwise, the speculation will drive us flat nuts.

While there’s intrigue concerning the matter of who will win their first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami, the greater question for this fan is who will win this Sunday’s race, Chase or no Chase. Will Kevin Harvick cap off the finest season of his 14-season career with a win that will get him that elusive NSCS title? Will a win place an exclamation point on Joey Logano’s breakout season and invariably validate the hype heaped on him before he came to the series with a title? Will Ryan Newman get his first win of 2014 and his first championship on the same day? Will Denny Hamlin’s up and down season end on the ultimate upswing?

It’s more than just an important day for these four. Dale Earnhardt Jr. can help send Steve Letarte from the pit box to the broadcast booth a winner. Tony Stewart has one last chance to keep his streak of consecutive seasons with at least one win alive. Kyle Larson heads a list of drivers who could conceivably win their first career Sprint Cup race Sunday. Anything can happen on race day.

What about some of the other back stories? Now that there’s nothing to lose, will Jeff Gordon or Matt Kenseth send a message to Brad Keselowski as payback for previous perceived (or real) wrongs? The only way we will really know is to line them up, wave the green flag, and let them go.

Chase or no Chase, I don’t care. To me, it’s about winning races. In my opinion, the greatest racer in NASCAR history didn’t win seven championships; he won three. He didn’t win 200 races, it was more like 105. Of those 105, 11 were won in 1973, a year in which he entered only 18 races. Of course, you old school fans know I speak of the “Silver Fox”- David Pearson. In the aforementioned ’73 campaign, Benny Parsons won the old Winston Cup championship with just one victory. That takes nothing away from Parsons, but for my money, I’d rather be Pearson.

All this to say that winning races, in the mind of some fans, trumps winning titles. Championships are nice, but as an example, what makes Jimmie Johnson great is winning 70 races, more so than six championships. Jeff Gordon’s 92 victories are no less impressive than his four championships. What about all the wins and the excitement generated by Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin in all the different series they ran?

Make no mistake, this new Chase format has created intrigue and intensity. At the heart of it, if it’s me behind the wheel, give me the win.