This may be hard to fathom, but I have been away from the oasis that is IndySportsNation the past couple days, just not physically in the office (once in the Nation, always in the Nation, and believe it or not, you can be kicked out of the Hell's Angels).
Sticking around the house, the need arose for a little home improvement, the replacement of a doorknob. Which big-box chain would I choose for the do-it-yourself purchase??? The big 3 in the DIY game are well represented on Indy's Southside. My decision would not be based on whether said company clubs baby seals or mishandles its employees pensions, but rather how most Americans chose the products they use; NASCAR sponsorships.
A trip to Menard's would mean supporting Paul Menard's family business... and his old man's bad dye jobs. No thanks. Home Depot, Tony Stewart's old sponsor, now the #20 is driven by youngster Joey Logano. He looks to much like the kid that hangs out with John Cusack and AMH in "Sixteen Candles"...(the dude far right)....I'll take a pass.
That leaves me with Lowe's. The store that is proudly emblazoned across the hood of recently annoited 4 time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson (the driver, not the coach...see last week's blog.)
Everyone wants to be identified with a winner, so why not??? Besides, Gene Hackman does the voice work on their commercials...
In the car, I got to thinking about his dominance over the Sprint Cup scene the past few years. 4 straight Cup titles, 47 Cup wins...
But without the Chase, Johnson would not have won those 4 straight titles. The very system that NASCAR implemented to make things more interesting at the end of the season has completely back-fired.
In the 6 "Chases" that have been held since NASCAR scrapped its old points system, only Kurt Busch and Stewart have won the title besides Johnson.
If you have some free-time (if you are reading this, you do) check out http://www.nascar.com/races/cup/2005/data/standings_whatif.html and see that Smoke would have brought home the hardware under both systems, the Chase format and the old points system used during Winston's support of the series.
Check out other years and we should be talking about Jeff Gordon being a 6 time champ (04 and 07) and Carl Edwards would have won it all last year.
And before anyone gets weepy for JJ, he still would have won it all this year and in 2006.
I am afraid NASCAR has painted themselves in corner now though. Any wholesale changes to the format will be taken as "Jimmie-proofing" the championship. But I think they can tweak some things.
4 tracks that make up the Chase are of the cookie-cutter 1 1/2 mile variety. JJ and crew chief Chad Knaus have gotten the #48 so dialed in at these venues, they are virtually unbeatable. How about getting road-course involved in the final 10?? Talladega was added this year and you saw what happened to the #48 that day.
Johnson is good, don't get me wrong. The 48 team is on the top of the pyramid right now. But looking back, how many straight would have Richard Petty won back in the 1970s or Dale Earnhardt in the mid-80s thru early 90s if the Chase had been in place???
The Chase was good idea that just didn't work for anybody, besides Jimmie Johnson. Racing is and should always be about the season as a whole, if you wrap the title up a few races early, so be it. Remember Jeff Green's dominant Busch season back in 2000??? What a shame that would have been if it was wiped out by a playoff.
If we are not used to it by now, JJ and company will kick it up a notch about Brickyard 400 time every year and cruise to title after title...
Oh Yeah, I got that doorknob I needed. Asked if Jimmie was around, but they said he was out in Vegas. Maybe the Founder will float me some plane tickets...
Johnson and Johnson and Johnson and Johnson...
Everyone wants to be identified with a winner, so why not???
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