Time is ticking down on major sports shortest off-season. A day short of three months is all that separates the last race at Homestead to the action coming up at Daytona. That is like Major League Baseball wrapping up the World Series in October, only to return in January.
Over the course of the season, Jeff Gordon was the top driver of 2014. However, NASCAR has not determined its champion using the results of the entire campaign for more than a decade. They want excitement, drama, unpredictability. They want what the other big boy sports have, and when they waved the flag to start the season finale, four drivers had an even shot to claim the prize. Unfortunately, 39 we knew who would not, also were out there.
The 2014 NASCAR season is officially over with the notable exception of the Championship Banquet. What kind of year was it? With the multitudes on talk radio praising the new format for determining a champion, what does the rest of NASCAR Nation think? This reporter has a “wait and see” attitude on the format, but that comes later.
As the final four prepare to thunder to their fate at Homestead, not everyone is thrilled with the new format to determine the Cup champion. Again and again I read how appreciative some are for NASCAR allowing them to do other things on a Sunday afternoon than watch a sport they have abandoned.
Well, boys, you are not in Kansas anymore. Thank God, at least for the gents from Hendrick. If not for a blown tire by Brad Keselowski to allow a Penske driver in on some of the fun, the bottom four would consist entirely of drivers working for Rick Hendrick. However, unlike Napoleon at Waterloo, Hendrick's boys will have a shot at redemption.
Jimmie Johnson’s team found a problem with his helmet’s cooling system that led to his dehydration following the race at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night. After an eighth place finish, as Johnson exited his car, he began experiencing leg cramps and dizziness. He was assisted to the infield care center where he received five liters of intravenous fluids.
In 2015, the Atlanta 500 makes its return. Well, sort of. That was the name of the early season race in Atlanta before they pimped out the brand to the sponsors. In 2010, they lost that date, while what once was the season finale in Cup got moved to where we find it today.
On the track, everything is just hunky dory for Dale Earnhardt Jr. For our money, he sits as the best on the season to this point, but there are a couple of storm clouds just over the horizon. Steve Letarte moves from crew chief to a pretty face on television next season, and the National Guard might be heading into the sunset with him. To be honest, we have long known about one, and have had suspicions about the other. Still, for you and I, these questions marks do not need to bother us until next year.
There is no doubt about it; winning is big in the Cup series this year. Race enough to be deemed a regular, sit among the top 30 in points, and a win pretty much gives one a pass to the promised land. It is exciting and has that all-important unpredictability factor we love.