NASCAR

Wins will loom large in the Chase

Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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There’s obviously been a lot of controversy that has swirled around our sport this week following last Saturday night’s race at Richmond and then NASCAR lowering the boom on Michael Waltrip Racing Monday night for attempting to manipulate the finish to the race. I hope everyone is excited about Chicago and the start of the Chase.

IT ADDS UP

Where did your favorite driver finish in the 2013 final standings?

In my opinion the new points system, the Chase format and especially the addition of the two Wild Card spots are all working exactly like we all hoped they would. We’ve just completed 26 weeks of hard racing in our regular season. Thirteen drivers won in those 26 events. The irony is only nine of them are in the Chase.

This regular season has been so competitive with this new car. Competitive to the point that our defending series champion Brad Keselowski and our four-time champion Jeff Gordon aren’t even in the Chase. Obviously, being injured, we’ll never know if three-time champion Tony Stewart would have held on to make the Chase or not.

Who knows? We all could be sitting here a year from now saying, “Boy, they have got to do something to make this Chase more exciting,” but I doubt it. While this new system still rewards consistency, the emphasis is clearly on winning. That’s the way it should be in racing, don’t you think?

I am foaming at the mouth to get to Sunday and get these next 10 Chase races started. I know we have a long way to go to reach the peak that we did in 2011 with Tony Stewart coming out of nowhere to win five of the final 10 races and tie Carl Edwards in the points.

Then the championship tiebreaker came down to what? Winning! Tony was then crowned the champion. I know we have a long way to go to recapture a Chase like that, but all the ingredients are there this year for a really special Chase.

We don’t have a dominate team going into this Chase, and I can see us easily going to Homestead — the last race of the season — with three or four cars racing right down to the wire to determine our 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

Tagged: Tony Stewart

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