Monday, October 6, 2008

Goodyear's tired act

Talladega certainly was a wild card – as were those unpredictable Goodyear tires – that shook up the Chase for the Cup. But if the old points format was in place today, the championship standings would be an interesting three-driver fight between Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Here’s a look a the anti-Chase simulation under the pre-2004 system.

Standings after Talladega
1. Carl Edwards – 4267
2. Jimmie Johnson (–13)
3. Kyle Busch (-82)
4. Jeff Burton (-274)
5. Dale Earnhardt (-320)
6. Greg Biffle (-346)
7. Kevin Harvick (-437)
8. Tony Stewart (-467)
9. Jeff Gordon (-560)
10. Clint Bowyer (-595)
11. Denny Hamlin (-659)
12. Matt Kenseth (-671)

A few thoughts crossed my mind as the checkered flag dropped on Regan Smith. First, of course, was who should have won? While Smith did break the rules by going below the yellow line, Stewart pushed him there, which I believe also is illegal. Smith said if he didn’t go low, he would have hit Stewart’s car and started a pileup. Well, why didn’t he? Isn’t that how Kyle Busch won at Talladega in the spring? If NASCAR punishes most drivers in those situations – Smith finished 18th rather than 2nd – then it’s about time they learn to hold their groove above the yellow line and the consequences be damned.

Also, when is Goodyear going to get its act together? ESPN interviewed a Goodyear official in a pathetic attempt to explain why the tires were being blown out worse than the Chicago Cubs. He blamed it on drivers running over debris. I’ve been watching restrictor plate racing for a long time and never have I seen that many tire failures. It’s time NASCAR investigates the problem itself and forces Goodyear to act … or else.

If you like big wrecks, then Talladega was the race to watch, but I prefer to see a great finish. In the end, we got an interesting race to the checkers, albeit, somewhat unsatisfying.

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