After Two Races, What Have We Learned?

[media-credit name=”Simon Scoggins” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Two races down and what have we seen? It’s confusing, but we’ve have had one race dominated by Fords and Chevrolets, and another dominated by Toyotas and Chevrolets. What do we make of this? One has to understand that Daytona is an entirely different animal from the rest of the circuit, save Talladega. It appears that the Roush-Yates engines are the way to go at the restrictor plate tracks, and after only one of the real races, the verdict is out.

I don’t get the euphoria the media gives the current winner of any race. Denny Hamlin might have wintered in Arizona and got his head straight. He had a good car in Avondale, Arizona on Sunday, but he was bailed out by a stronger car running out of fuel. Matt Kenseth might have won Daytona, but it might have been more luck than skill, not to take away from either victory. That’s the way racing goes. A lot of it always has to do with luck and even skill. It’s just the way it goes. So where are we?

Much of it has to do with what happens next. Las Vegas is key and Bristol is a crap shoot. We won’t know much until we get to California in three weeks. And then we probably will have to look to Charlotte to get the full picture. So far, it’s an open field. A lot will depend on what happens in the soon appeal of the NASCAR penalties given to the No. 48 team after Daytona, regardless of what you think about Johnson, Knaus, and Hendrick Motorsports. That team is a force in this series. The 25-point penalty is big, So far, no date has been established for the appeal. Regardless of what anyone thinks, a lot depends on this decision. The Johnson-Knaus team is formidable.

I have a real problem in talking about points this early. The media loves it because it gives them something to talk about, but when did we get to the point that points and the Chase was more important than who won the race on any given Sunday? If last year’s championship proved anything else, it was that winning was important. It was the tie-breaker in the closest championship in history. Maybe, the lesson here is that nothing matters until the final ten races, and that bothers me. In stick and ball sports, it works well, but in racing, it’s almost that the individual races don’t matter. Denny Hamlin won Phoenix. Big deal. All that matters is how many points he got. That is NASCAR in the 21st Century. Win a bunch and have a few poor finishes, and you are dust. In the old days, the winners were given all the spoils. Winners were important. Nowadays, it only matters until the final ten races.

We’re a long way from that, and hopefully exemplary performance will determine the season champion, but I’d wish we could worry about that in August instead of March. I’m a fool and I know I’m daft, but I wish that. Unfortunately, I’m in the minority. Bad deal for me,

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Fleshman
Ron Fleshman
Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as He can now be found at Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.


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