I definitely think we are seeing a different style of racing this year than ever before, thanks to NASCAR’s decision to place more of an emphasis on winning races when it comes to how teams qualify for the Chase that determines our season champion.
For the teams that have already garnered a win this year, we’ve already seen examples where they are willing to roll the dice on some strategy to get another win and not worry about the points. We’ve also seen teams with wins under their belts this year try some well-out-of-the box setups that most times didn’t work but they had the luxury of taking a shot at it because of already having a win.
I think that speaks volumes to what this whole concept was dedicated to creating. It’s definitely keeping us on the edge of our seats this year. In a lot of situations during the race and especially toward the end of the race it has us all asking, "I wonder what they will do?"
Like in all professional sports, winning is the key. To win is why we compete. Now we are seeing that once you get that win in NASCAR, drivers/crew chiefs/teams are willing to take more chances. They are willing to play a little poker and try to bluff the competition in hopes of getting another win.
If you were able to hear Brad Keselowski’s post-race interview Monday you heard that’s all they cared about. Brad got busted on pit road for a speeding penalty. It did cost him a real shot at winning the race. He was trying to race off pit road ahead his teammate, Joey Logano, who had the car to beat Monday in Texas, which was his best chance at getting to Victory Lane. Brad can deal with the fact that it was his mistake because he already has a win in the bank. Having that win in the bank makes a costly mistake like what happened on Monday easier to swallow for him.
I love the common denominator we are hearing from all the drivers — that it’s all about winning. The first seven races of this season have brought us seven different winners. Those seven have a pretty good sense that they will be in the Chase. It lets them try things and go out on that limb that they might not try this early in the season otherwise. I love this new thought process and I think it’s really great for our sport.