Sprint Cup Series: Wrecks Will Still Play a Big Part Before The Chase

Mark SchaferContributor IJuly 21, 2009

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 04:  Emergency vehicles tend to Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Budweiser Dodge, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, after both cars collided during the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 51st Annual Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2009 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Wrecks are always a factor in every track that the Sprint Cup Series races.

However, with rule changes and a car that some believe is less racy, wrecks in the Sprint Cup Series seem to be more frequent. Now with the race to the chase for the Sprint Cup heating up, wrecks will play a much bigger role in the next seven races.

While big wrecks have happened in the past at almost every track, usually the “big ones” are specially reserved for the Superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega.

Or at least they used to be reserved for the superspeedways in the past. Now it seems big wrecks can happen at just about any track.

In 2008, a track blocking wreck at Richmond in the spring race hurt a large number of cars. So far in 2009, a few tracks other than Daytona and Talladega have seen big wrecks, most recently at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Multiple car wrecks can hurt a teams chances for the chase. A good example of how much wrecks can hurt is Brian Vickers.

Vickers, despite still being in 16th place in points, has eight top 10s, and two of those are top fives. His three wrecks are part of the reason that Vickers might miss the chase.

Further down in the points is Sam Hornish Jr.  Hornish Jr. has four top 10s, yet is struggling in points setting at 29th—mostly due to wrecks that Hornish has been involved in.

The real danger in wrecks is that they can literally be around the next turn. With the new car, there are tighter packs, which can lead to bigger wrecks.

Last year at the road course of Watkins Glen, a multiple car wreck involved at least nine cars—proving that a big wreck can happen anywhere.

Another rule change is further proving that a big wreck can happen anywhere. Jeff Burton’s least favorite rule, the double-file restart, has made an impact on not just the fans, but also the cars.

Instead of racing to get around lapped cars, it’s racing for position all around the track. Already the double-file restart has lead to at least one major pile-up.

A track-clogging wreck at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 was the first instance of a major wreck that could be directly linked to the double-file restart.

So far, the bigger tracks, and even the road course, had a few spins here and there, but no major wreck could be directly related to the double-file restart rule.

To be fair, the Lenox 301 wreck may not of been all the fault of the restart rule, but no doubt the double-file restart didn’t help.

Before the race for the chase starts, there is the most well-known half-mile track in the racing world, Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bristol, the highly banked half-mile oval in Tennessee, could wreak more havoc than usual. There could be more wrecks in Bristol this year for a couple of reasons.

First, is the double-file restart. Since Bristol is such a small track, the bottom groove is really the groove that most racers want to race on. On past restarts, drivers would scramble to get to the bottom. Now with double-file restarts, this scramble is going to happen whenever the yellow comes out.

Secondly, Bristol’s second race is always a few short weeks before the chase begins. so there will be racing to protect racers spots in the top 12.

However, a wreck could happen just about anywhere. The last remaining races before the chase will be interesting to watch, because one wreck could take people out or put people into the coveted top 12 of points.