Parity Prevailing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series After Joey Logano's Win at Texas

Jerry Bonkowski@@jerrybonkowskiFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Jeff Gordon is still seeking his first win of the season, finished second Monday at Texas to Joey Logano, yet without a win is now atop the Sprint Cup standings.
Jeff Gordon is still seeking his first win of the season, finished second Monday at Texas to Joey Logano, yet without a win is now atop the Sprint Cup standings.Mike Stone

Seven different races, seven different winners, seven different No. 1 qualifiers.

Somewhere, NASCAR chairman/CEO Brian France is likely doing a happy dance—a really, really, really happy dance.

Ever since he assumed his role as NASCAR's top leader more than 10 years ago, France has continually stressed how key and important parity is to the sport.

That's why NASCAR reined in motors and horsepower (with more dramatic changes to come in 2015 or 2016) and also developed the Car of Tomorrow, followed by the current so-called Generation 6 car.

France wanted as level a playing field as possible, and he's finally seeing that parity play out in spades.

At the rate we're going, we could potentially have 26 different winners in the 26-race regular season. While that will admittedly play major havoc with the new format for the Sprint Cup later this season—where the first 16 drivers with a win make the 10-race playoffs—it's the kind of problem that actually will show fans once and for all that Sprint Cup racing is more even and equal than any major sport in the U.S.

Say what you want about Jimmie Johnson and his six Sprint Cup championships in the last eight seasons. Say what you want that the Chase was tweaked to maximize Johnson's potential to win and extend his All-American Boy-like reign over the sport.

With the way the first seven races of 2014—nearly one-fifth of the season—have played out, it amazes me that there remain some diehard NASCAR fans (mostly old-timers) who still aren't satisfied.

They continually like to say to bring back truly stock cars—you know, buy at your dealer today and race them tomorrow.

Other fans—I like to call them "the clueless ones"—say they want change and a return to the 1970s or 1980s version of NASCAR, when it was a little-watched, Southern-based sport that lived and held the names Petty, Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, Waltrip and Earnhardt in almost religious-like regard.

Larry Papke

Whenever someone mentions "the good 'ole days with the good 'ole boys," I cringe. Can't they see that the reason those drivers 30 and 40 years ago were so good in their prime was because they typically had the best motors, the best cars and dominated virtually everybody else.

While that may be great for them, that's not parity, plain and simple. On any given Sunday (or Saturday—or rain-delayed Monday), any one of the 43 drivers who climb into their race cars should have as equal an opportunity to win a race.

The car they drive shouldn't necessarily be what determines the final outcome, but rather the drivers' talent and natural ability.

What we are seeing today is indeed true parity. It doesn't make a difference if a driver is behind the wheel of a Ford, Chevrolet or Toyotaevery driver has a chance to win.

Don't believe me? Look at the stats for the first seven races: Chevrolet-powered drivers (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch) have won three races, Ford-powered drivers (Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Monday's winner at Texas, Joey Logano) have won three races and Toyota-powered drivers (Kyle Busch) have won one.

Every manufacturer has had a bite out of the winner's pie this season—and there are still 29 races left to take additional bites, as well as to swallow the ultimate gulp, the Sprint Cup championship.

I will not be surprised to see the current streak of seven different race winners and seven different No. 1 qualifiers reach eight for this Saturday's race at Darlington, or reach nine the following week at Richmond.

After all, there's still plenty of wins to go around, and there's plenty of drivers still in pursuit who for one reason or other haven't broken through.

Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, even the new guy atop the Sprint Cup points standings, Jeff Gordon, have yet to win a race in 2014.

Wait, there's more: Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, super-rookie Kyle Larson (I'm betting he wins at Darlington), Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose, Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and David Ragan.

Heck, even Danica Patrick is still winless. Wouldn't she be a great addition to the overall list of eventual winners and become Chase-eligible?

Danica Patrick is among more than three dozen full-time drivers on the Sprint Cup Series who still hasn't won a race this season.
Danica Patrick is among more than three dozen full-time drivers on the Sprint Cup Series who still hasn't won a race this season.Ralph Lauer

Go back and look at the list of names I just presented. That's 21 different drivers who have yet to reach Victory Lane. And there's a whole lot more second- and third-tier drivers who could potentially pull out a surprise win, too.

It's funny how fickle NASCAR fans can be. For too long, they've been saying they want parity, where every driver—no matter who it is—has an equal chance of winning in every race and every time the green start flag drops.

And so what are so many fans saying now after the first seven races? They want to know how come nobody has won more than one race thus far this year.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, "You can please some of the people some of the time, but even when you give them what they want, there's just no pleasing NASCAR fans all the time."

Follow me on Twitter @JerryBonkowski.


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