It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

The big winner could be ... Jamie McMurray! (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)
The big winner could be … Jamie McMurray! (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

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Clinton, S.C., Monday, January 20, 2014, 12:58 p.m.

You’ve heard of the cross between the elephant and the rhinoceros, right?

The “hell if I know”? Maybe the helephino.

What’s NASCAR going to do? Hell if I know. I read about the alleged Chase formula that leaked out over the weekend. I really just can’t believe it. Surely calmer heads will prevail.

In NASCAR? Hah! They’ve got calmer heads breaking up passes in the NFL playoffs.

Sixteen drivers in the Chase? Anyone who wins a race getting in, EIRI? (NASCAR-speak for “except in rare instances,” even though, in NASCAR, rare instances aren’t even rare.) Eliminations during the Chase from 16 to 8 to 4, and then the four “lucky winners” dueling it out for the Sprint Cup championship in the final race?

My very first thought was, well, Jamie McMurray’s big year has finally arrived.

My second thought was, well, this is another in the endless series of NASCAR trial balloons. If fans don’t jump up and down, hyperventilate while chatting with Dave Moody on SiriusXM, show up at the NASCAR Hall of Fame carrying fiery clubs and threatening to burn the place down, and launch the NASCAR wing of the Tea Party, this is going through.

I went to stock car races, on and off, since I was about five years old, so, yeah, lots of my opinions are old. I never once found myself thinking, well, you know, this Chase really works well. I did, however, accept that it was here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it. NASCAR has never played by my rules, and it shouldn’t. The sporting world passed me by long ago. If it was up to me, NASCAR wouldn’t have a Chase, baseball wouldn’t have a designated hitter, football lineman wouldn’t be allowed to block with their hands, and basketball would still have numerous jump balls. Golf clubs and tennis racquets would still have wood in them.

I'm smiling, but, inside ...
I’m smiling, but, inside …

This cockamamie proposal took me by surprise, though, and, at this point, I say just go all the way. Any acceptance of this means of determining the Sprint Cup champion also implies further radical departures.

– All qualifying must be conducted at the Bonneville Salt Flats, which would effectively move the epicenter of stock car racing from North Carolina to Utah. The teams would have to hit the salt for qualifying each Tuesday, then pack up and go to tracks.

– Loop-the-loops, which work splendidly in Hot Wheels sets, must be installed at all “intermediate” tracks.

– Borrowing even more from Mattel, Milton Bradley and Hasbro, Dover and New Hampshire must be converted into “over-and-under” figure-8’s.

– Five diversity provisionals.

– Kool-Aid, the Official Powdery Substance of NASCAR.

– Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, in the tower, calling the race. Maybe Dennis Kucinich, too, at the road courses to placate the sport’s hundreds of liberal fans. And Blake Shelton because he’s everywhere else and looks a bit like Dale Earnhardt Jr. And they’ll have to find a place for Regis Philbin and Nancy Grace.

– Jim Carrey, NASCAR Vice President for Corporate Communications.

– One demolition derby in the Chase, and that’s in addition to Talladega.

– A Monster Truck Series.

– Replace the all-star races with a converted triathlon – 100 miles in a stock car, 100 miles on a motorcycle and 100 miles in a powerboat – and a cross-country race through the Monument Valley of Utah. As with the Sprint All-Star Race, all the Salt Lake City-based teams would call the latter their home race.

Someone in Daytona Beach is reading this right now and thinking, well, we considered all those things. The numbers didn’t jive.

Buy my novel, The Intangibles, which isn’t nearly as outlandish as this blog. Now I’m going back to writing about a bank robbery.

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11 thoughts on “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”

  1. “…road courses to placate the sport’s hundreds of liberal fans.”

    Now that made me laugh. I’d never put road racing and left-leaning together, but I suspect you’re more right than wrong.

    Over and under figure 8s are a terrific idea. Especially if there were a jump coming off the bridge. Drivers would get style points if they got good air.

  2. Why don’t they go over to a bar on A1A;Knock back a couple of beers and draw up a plan on a cocktail napkin?Might work;Brian France,call me BR5-492.

  3. I like the loop-de-loop and figure 8 ideas. Let’s do lunch.

    I feel that we’re not maximizing our sponsor potentialarity so I propose selling the naming rights to the individual turns on each track. The pits too. And since the fans are always complaining about commercials, we’ll change up the sponsor names every five laps so that we don’t have to break away as much.

    We’ll give cute names to the broadcast crew too. From now on, DW becomes “DEW” and Larry Mac is “Big Mac”. And of course, Mike “Almond” Joy. I’m also working on a deal where companies can become the official sponsor of the official sponsors of NASCAR.

    And to heck with this eliminate four drivers every three races during the chase. let’s just start doing it at Daytona. We have 43 drivers and 36 races, so we’ll just pick a car number out of a hat after each race until we’re down to 7 cars for the last race. All the eliminated drivers go to Nationwide ’cause we want to keep propping up that series at the expense of the driver pipeline. Maybe Kyle Busch can get that championship he always wanted. Or how ’bout Danica?

  4. Let’s just pick a name out of a hat, award the championship to that team and we can all enjoy our Sunday afternoons on those nice summer days.

    That’s about the only method I can come up with that’s more arbitrary than what they are floating with these changes. I can’t wait for my driver to retire than I can wash my hands of this joke of a sport.

  5. Lord help us if there’s a green-white-checker and someone takes Junior out when he’s leading the championship on the last lap in the last race. The casualties will be in the hundreds.

    Alright, that’s just a theoretical. There’s no way that Junior will get that close. But any time one car crashes and eliminates another from the chase there’s going to be accusations about different brands or teams intentionally doing it. And what if none of the four finalists completes the race? What if your new champion is the guy who blew an engine on lap 72?

    There are good points and bad points to this new plan. I don’t have a better one and I like the elimination aspect. But if you don’t run those last four cars alone in their own separate race, you’re opening yourself up for a lot of negative press in the stick & ball magazines the next day.

    It’s the frequency of the changes that bother me more than the content of them.

  6. Thanks for all the interest humor and insight. The possibilities are obviously endless. That’s what worries me.

  7. As silly as it sounds on it’s face, the 16-12-8-4 elimination is really not that effectively different than the net effect of the current chase. The were 13 in the chase last year anyway, half of which who had no realistic chance of winning the championship anyway, so who cares if there are 16, half of which who have no realistic chance of winning the chase anyway? As to the eliminations, that is effectively the same as currently, the only difference is the eliminated drivers are officially eliminated, instead of mathematically eliminated. I’m just trying to figure out how Na$car thinks Junior has a better chance of winning this way, that is their usual motivation for a rule change…

    Now, the over and under figure 8 idea is not so crazy. It might actually spice things up and we would only have 34 instead of 36 boring races. At least until the novelty wore off. You could really make it interesting and switch from oval to figure 8 every other pitstop, but where would you put the finish line? We could combine my idea with John’s above and put the finish line midair at the jump like motocross… hey, somebody call Humpty Wheeler, we might get this idea off the ground yet!

  8. Love to see ICS buy the Springfield Mile.

    Then they could replace California with a race people would really want to watch, & maybe even attend.

    Plus they could announce a sell out, with a straight face.

  9. I for one like the proposed change to the chase. I have always thought that the consistency points scheme in NASCAR was lame. Why reward a guy who is consistently good but seldom great? I thought it was lousy that Kenseth won the championship in 2003 but didn’t do much except ride around points racing and not taking any chances. The current chase system was an improvement, but still too skewed towards consistency. Carl Edwards almost won the chase in 2011 with no wins in the chase versus Tony Stewart who had a record 5 wins in the chase.
    And as one of the people who is sick of Jimmie Johnson, anything that makes it tougher for him and Chad to win, the better. I’m sure Johnson will be in the final four due to consistency, but he’ll have to drive hard to win. No more of the only needing to finish 35th to win scenario. I did not even watch the Homestead race last year because it was a nearly foregone conclusion that he would win and he would just be running laps at some slower pace. No fun watching a race when the only thing to root for is for someone to blow an engine or have a serious problem.

  10. Well, we disagree, but I respect your view.
    Most want to to prioritize excitement. I stress legitimacy.
    I’m behind the times, as conceded in the blog.

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