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Charting the Chase: COT; locked in and out
|Cup owner standings|
All three groups those solidly in the top 35 in owner points, those in the danger zone and those on the outside are looking at Martinsville Speedway with a lot of anticipation. The group that's not locked in is a different group from the drivers that had to qualify for the first five races. The six to 10 teams that are just in and just out of the top 35 in 2007 owner points are looking closely at the standings heading to the Virginia bullring, where this year's owner point standings will determine who's locked into the field. On qualifying day, this locked-in, locked-out top 35 deal is the biggest story, bigger than who will sit on the pole. We follow it so closely because if these teams miss a race, it just hurts them even worse for either staying locked into the top 35 or getting into the top 35. It's like standing in a hole and shoveling the dirt out from under you. I'm all for anything that we can do to make our sport safer, more competitive and less expensive for owners. Does part of me wish I could close my eyes and this Car of Tomorrow deal didn't exist? Sure. Do I question whether it's still something we need? When NASCAR started building it, I absolutely thought we needed it. But we've come a long way since then with the current car. However, now that the COT is here, it's not going to go away, and it will end up being a pretty good thing for NASCAR. We've got some pretty darn good racing right now. You can never let down your guard on safety because it will get you in trouble in a heartbeat, but the current car is pretty safe right now when you consider David Reutimann's crash at Fontana or go back to last year and Kasey Kahne's Indy crash, Mark Martin's Lowe's collision and Jeff Gordon's impact at Pocono. Are you ever going to make a move to save owners money? Every time NASCAR attempts to make a cost-savings measure, it actually ends up costing owners more because research steps up.
|Speed Mail Larry McReynolds|
If things go well, NASCAR seems to be open to running the Car of Tomorrow at every 2008 race instead of making teams build two cars again next season. Considering what the teams have built, tested and tried to do to keep up with the current car, I seriously doubt any team would fight NASCAR on running the COT exclusively next year. If it's better, let's just race it everywhere.
Congratulations, colleaguesI want to congratulate Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and the people behind the scenes for NASCAR on FOX who have been nominated for Emmys. They are well-deserved accolades, and when the awards are handed out April 30, I hope everyone will be accepting those awards.
FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.
"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.