2014 Chase Living Up to the Hype

pace-laps-martinsvilleIf you haven’t been to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, or you haven’t been to one lately, this year’s Chase would be a good time to do it, as the revised 2014 Chase format is really living up to the hype, and this afternoon’s Martinsville race continued the streak of drama, action and overall excitement.

Cautions galore is a common theme of the lower-speed, but high temper short track of Martinsville Speedway, but the added drama of the Chase really upped the tension.

Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers went back and forth wrecking each other, to the point that NASCAR asked them if they were done. Maybe the “boys have it at” has a limit to the number of back and forth. If the No. 5 and 55 action demonstrated that, the limit is three incidents.

Like Charlotte’s Chase race, the bigger drama had to do with Matt Kenseth. Once again, Kenseth forced his car into a space there wasn’t room for, making contact with fellow Eliminator round Chase contender, Kevin Harvick. Rather than just crunching in a body panel, the incident sent Harvick’s car to the garage for an extended stay. It also led to Harvick, post race announcing that Kenseth would not win the 2014 Chase.

Oil was a common problem at Martinsville as well — Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, among several others had problems with oil lines. Contact was obviously involved in the vast majority of the problems “spurting” up, but it was still curious just how many drivers had oil issues.

Aerodynamics really don’t really matter much at Martinsville, and it was obvious by the end. By the end of the 500-lap race, half a dozen were missing minimally their hood, if not full front ends, including Vickers, Harvick and several others.

In the end, the race was won by first time Martinsville winner — NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. With Junior no longer being in the Chase, Martinsville ended coming down to points, and giving Eliminator round drivers just Texas and Phoenix to either win or be consistent (hello third place finisher, Ryan Newman).

If Martinsville is an indicator, Texas and Phoenix are going to be can’t-miss-a-second races. If you’re near either track, get your tickets. It was great enough on TV for today’s Martinsville race, but it’ll be a blast in-person.

3 thoughts on “2014 Chase Living Up to the Hype

  • October 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm
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    Really? You don’t think Martinsville would have been exciting without the silly chase? You think fans only watch to see who will win the ‘new and improved champeenship’? I’m tired of the overkill of the title, that I find myself not caring a bit. I just want to see good, competitive racing. When did a close, competitive race become less important than one race at the end of the year. And the ‘chase’ is only working of it’s bringing new viewers to the sport. How much have ticket sales gone up lately? Have the TV ratings jumped since it started? Nope. Didn’t think so. If artificially manufactured ‘tight points races’ thrill you, then it’s working. I sincerely hope Newman or Kenseth take the title without a win, proving how silly this whole mess is.

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  • October 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm
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    I completely agree with salb. The race was exciting mostly because of the action created by the non-Chasers. The Chase has always been a farce and this year tops them all, with the prospect of multiple winners being forced out early while strokers ride their points to the finals. And the fans are voting with their wallets and TV remotes not to bother with fake drama. How about a wild game of rock, paper, scissors to determine the championship? And next year we are sure to see a driver get a wild card into the finals by popular vote to REALLY insure that NASCAR gets what it wants.

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