There has been a lot of talk since Tony Stewart's Monday night accident about track safety and the safety of Sprint Cars. There may or may not be anything to that discussion, but in this case, I feel 99.9% sure that Smoke will be back in a dirt car as soon as the doctors clear him, so it seems like a waste of breath.
I actually want to talk about something else in the wake of the Stewart injury, and that is the way NASCAR picks its champion. I guess what I want to know first is, does NASCAR think of its self as a team sport or an individual sport?
If it's a team sport, why are we picking the champions based solely on what the driver does. When Denny Hamlin was out of the car earlier season, and as Tony Stewart sits out from his injury, the teams still come to the track, they still build cars and they still change tires. Why should they be left out of the playoffs because their driver is hurt. If Tom Brady gets hurt, the Patriots still get a chance to the playoffs if they can find a good backup and keep winning, But with out their drivers in the seat, the 11 and 14 team have no chance.
I know there is an owners championship, but does anyone pay attention to that?
I know as NASCAR fans we hate change. And I know that NASCAR has always based their championship on the driver. But we switched to the Chase for the Championship 10 years ago and we all survived, and lets be honest, teams an crew chiefs play a much bigger role than they did in the days of The King.
"I knew right then for damn sure that I had a really bad concussion," said Junior after he made the decision to sit out after his second hard hit. "I wish I would have taken that more seriously. I don't know if it would have changed anything."
He didn't step away for one reason, the Chase. But what if he could have? And don't we want drivers to step away when they are injured. I know we all wan our drivers to be macho Ricky Rudd driving around with his eyes taped open, we also know that that's probably not very smart or safe these days.
"It's a tough decision to make going into the Chase, and I had dealt with concussions before and I thought that I'd just drive through it and it would be over in a couple of weeks and as long as I didn't have any crashes, I'd be over it and it'd be done," Earnhardt said.
The last thing NASCAR wants to encourage drivers to ride around hurt and risk further injury, just for a few points. So it's something to think about. If the sport is really worried about safety, if this is truly a team sport, maybe a change in the way we chose a champion would do them good.
At the end of the day, it's probably not gonna change the champion 99 times out of 100 anyway.