This is the first time that I have followed the NASCAR playoffs. Any thoughts on J Johnson’s annoyance at being disrespected by the drivers still in contention? Also, I still don’t get the full racing field thing. If the slow drivers are just in the way of the serious guys, why have them there? How about just letting the top 16 drivers just have it out until the end? Thanks!
Oooh, welcome to your inaugural playoffs!!! It’s been a pretty wild one so far; I hope you’ve been enjoying it. 🙂 Are you rooting for/against any teams in particular??? Who’ve you got pegged for the final four?
I haven’t had a lot of time to pay much attention to what storylines have been playing out off-track, but I do vaguely remember him mentioning in the pre-race last week that he felt that respect needed to be re-earned. But that makes me sad, so I try not to think about it too much. I want JJ to win 10,000 races this season, strike fear into the hearts of men, etc.
As for everyone racing even if they’re not in contention for the championship–I actually had a similar question when I was watching my first NASCAR playoffs! Because I was like, man, this seems like a VERY expensive way to spend an afternoon, y’all. But I think it actually does make a lot of sense, for a number of reasons, some of which are duller than others, haha. Here are some, though by no means all, reasons everyone races even when they’re not in the playoffs:
- In Harv’s words, you signed a contract. Sponsors still want their colors on track.
- Your driver, crew, supporting staff, etc. also still need to get paid, and so need to work.
- Especially in years like this, where the rules package for 2020 is going to be pretty much the same as 2019, teams that aren’t in contention for the playoffs have a little more leeway to try out some experimental set-ups and strategies to see if they find any magic that’ll give them a leg-up next year.
- Young drivers get seat time, new crew members get practice.
- Especially for teams that are still developing, or perennially low-budget, track time matters. It takes a lot of work to build up a team and get it competitive (see: the 95 team).
- It would be real, real boring watching only 16, 12, 8, 4 cars roll around the track alone. It only worked in Cars 1 because we, the audience, did not have to watch all million and ten laps of that tiebreaker race where NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENED. XPP
- Plus, racing only really works if you have a field of cars to work with–no one really wants to watch someone get out in clean air and then gap the field, never to be heard from again. So we need lapped traffic; we need the ability to lose 15 points because there’s a bunch of non-playoff drivers between you and the next guy in contention. We need fights for the lucky dog position, we need the potential for unexpected chaos and inopportune/opportune cautions. Especially with this rules package, which is so aero-dependent, and makes the cars handle so differently in clean air vs. in traffic, and brings side-drafting, etc. into play. If there’s no cars to cause these kinds of conditions, there’s really no race. The backrunners and non-playoff cars are crucial to the sport! They are not #meaningless at all! (#meaningless copyright Denny Hamlin)
- And honestly, if you can’t maneuver around lapped traffic and hold onto your lead, you don’t deserve to be a NASCAR Champion, anyway. This is racing, real racing, not turning left.
- Plus, even if you’re not in the playoffs, a win is a win. And for a lot of guys, a win is more important than a championship, because a championship was never in the cards for their team in the first place. A win, though? That’d be everything.
- And you can spite-win, stealing precious points and potentials to be locked in from the playoff guys, lol. It doesn’t happen often (like, in the last two years, I’m not certain it’s happened more than once…? when Matt Kenseth won Phoenix in the Round of 8 after being eliminated in the Round of 12? I don’t remember any others, in any case) but a win is a win is a win.