One of the biggest criticisms NASCAR drivers have faced in recent years has been that they do not race hard enough for wins.
Drivers often times seem all too satisfied to finish in the top-five or top-10 and call it a good points day, seemingly unconcerned about winning.
Lately, however, that sentiment seems to have changed. In recent interviews, drivers Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon both emphasized that winning races was the most important thing they can do now to set themselves up for the Chase for the Champiionship.
Under the current system, the top-12 drivers in the overall Sprint Cup points standings following the 26th race of the season qualify for a 10-race playoff which will determine the season champion.
After that event, which is run at the Richmond International Raceway, each of the top drivers will have his points reset at 5,000. And each driver will be rewarded with 10 bonus points for each win he has accumulated up to that point.
For example, Kyle Busch has seven wins so far this season. That means if the Chase were to start now his point total would be set at 5,070. Jeff Gordon, on the other hand, has no wins but is inside the top-12. So his point total going to the Chase would be 5,000.
As it stands right now, Busch would go into the playoff with a 40-point cushion over his next closest competitors, Edwards and Jimmie Johnson. Edwards has four wins this season but because of an infraction found with his car after the race in Las Vegas, he will not be awarded bonus points for that win. Johnson has three victories.
Starting with the race in Watkins Glen, New York this weekend, drivers who are not solidly locked into the Chase have five races reamining to get themselves into the top-12, which has to be their primary concern.
However, drivers such as Busch, Edwards, Johnson, Jeff Burton, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who, barring complete disaster, are certain to be racing for the title have little else to race for other than wins. They are in the position to go all out for first place and not be concerned with points otherwise.
Carl Edwards said it best in a recent interview:
“Anything other than winning back to about 25th right now isn’t going to make a difference on our season,” Edwards said. “For us, we have to win right now. We can’t give up opportunities to win races.”
That is a refreshing change over what we are used to hearing.
For more on NASCAR, including a story on Junior getting dissed by a former crew member, go to my website at RacingWithRich.com http://racingwithrich.com/