LEMASTERS: Lone Star State Slugfest


What in the name of Coo Coo Marlin is going on here?

Talladega was supposed to be the watershed, where the championship battle would be won or lost upon the four-story banking in the middle of the Alabama Plains.

Didn’t happen, at least in the way we expected it to. We expected the three main title contenders to put a stake in the ground and move toward taking the momentum to Texas. Instead, we got a tighter battle and a real slugfest in the Lone Star State.

Not that Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Eddie Gossage isn’t loving that, or anything!

At long last, there’s a Chase with a battle that isn’t manufactured, pre-ordained or predictable. The last four have been equal parts of those, and the same guy was left standing in the Florida darkness.

In a way, Texas is going to be more of a determinant in the outcome than Talladega was. Despite 87 lead changes and a bunch of five-wide fighting, Talladega ended tamely for everyone except A.J. Allmendinger, who did his best impression of Evel Knievel on the final lap.

Johnson was seventh, Hamlin ninth and Harvick a few feet out of the lead in second…which gives Johnson a 14-point lead headed to Texas. Harvick is 38 points back of second-place Hamlin in third.

That means the top three in points are separated by eight finishing positions with three to go. Sounds like IROC to me. Does anyone besides me miss the IROC Series?

I can remember watching the old Porsche Carreras do battle, followed by Chevrolet Camaros, Dodges and Pontiacs. Riverside…Daytona…Talladega…Nazareth…Indy…it was a hoot every time they laced ’em up.

I digress.

Poking around the voluminous stats pages that NASCAR maintains and I found that the 12 Chase drivers have won 27 of the 33 races run thus far. Jamie McMurray (three), Juan Montoya, Ryan Newman and David Reutimann are the lone non-Chasers to win this season. Does that strike anyone as absurd?

If you look at it logically, it wouldn’t. The Chasers are there for a reason and there’s no position that pays more points than first.

But if the competition is so good, and the racing is as good as it ever was (thank you, David Byrne!) then why are there 2.7 victories per the 10 Chasers that have won races and .18 victories per all the other drivers in the series?

As my old friend Willy T. Ribbs was wont to say at times like these… “These are the things that make you say…hmmmmm.”