Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: NASCAR Shakes Up Cup Driver Eligibility in 2017

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 26, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXC

What to Watch: Wednesday

- Today is penalty day in NASCAR.  Look for the typical assortment of warnings to be assessed.  It is unclear whether the confiscated part from Martin Truex, Jr.'s No. 78 on Saturday will actually incur any type of penalty.


Wednesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

NASCAR Limits 2017 Cup Driver Participation In XFINITY Series, Camping World Trucks

Early this morning, NASCAR announced new rules to curtail "Buschwacking" by Cup drivers in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series.  Starting next year, Cup regulars will be barred entirely from Chase and Dash 4 Cash races.  In addition, Cup drivers with five or more years of Cup experience cannot run more than ten XFINITY and seven Truck races a year.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.


Today's Featured Commentary
By the Numbers
Professor of Speed
by Mark Howell

Once upon a time, there were 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The first 26 were a precursor to the final, all important, ten.

Once upon a time, there were forty NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. The forty were eventually pared down to the top-sixteen after those first 26 races were run.

The sixteen soon became twelve.

The twelve eventually became eight.

Of those eight, four represent the same manufacturer.

Of those eight, four represent the same racing organization.

One of those four finished third last Sunday at Talladega.

The remaining three finished 28th, 29th, and 30th, respectively.

And these four could, mathematically, at least, make the final round, when the total of eight surviving competitors gets reduced by one-half.

The hope is that the four drivers who qualify for the final round of the Sprint Cup Series' "Chase for the Championship" will create a "Game Seven" moment of raw excitement. The four will compete head-to-head amongst 36 other drivers. The best of these final four will win the NSCS title.

It's all a matter of following the numbers.

Or, at least, it's all a matter of playing the numbers. Not in that a-better-chance-of-getting-struck-by-lightning kind of "playing the numbers". This is more a matter of hedging your bets against the law of averages, of seeing how to work the numbers so they pay off to your advantage.

This is a matter of human nature.

When cries of foul went up after the checkered flag flew at Talladega Superspeedway last Sunday afternoon, those who felt wronged or cheated believed that three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers owed them something more meaningful than a rear-of-the-field parade for 500 miles.

In actuality, the three JGR drivers who played "follow-the-leader" did precisely that.

The three drivers punched their collective tickets into round three of the Sprint Cup Chase. While teammate Denny Hamlin scratched and clawed his way to a third-place finish, a position that ultimately tied him in points with Austin Dillon, the remaining JGR trio of Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch hunkered down to reap the benefits of their substantial cushion within the standings. While Dillon's title chances were erased through a tiebreaker based on recent victories that went in Hamlin's favor, Kenseth, Edwards, and Busch stayed alive despite inciting the wrath of many within NASCAR Nation.

Playing the numbers is, as stated earlier, a matter of human nature. I see it every day as students crunch their scores against point scales and semester percentages. For every freshman who strives to amass as many points as realistically possible, there's a jaded sophomore who knows they only need the bare minimum to survive, move on, and enroll it yet another section of advanced literature or writing. Why break a sweat when moving on is guaranteed regardless of whether you earn an A or a C; both will get the job done, but it's up to the student to decide how they make their move.

For some students, it's all about being first, being the best. For others, it's all about getting through and getting on with the real business at hand:  accomplishing the "big picture" goal that ends with a cap, a gown, and a diploma.

Working the numbers isn't the same thing as giving up. It's a matter of giving the situation serious thought and doing what's absolutely necessary to stay alive. Making the "elite eight" is the only way to reach the "final four". And if you don't make the "final four", you may as well lingered at the back of the pack during round one.

It's all about getting the numbers to work in your favor. Even if doing so is out of favor with most in NASCAR Nation, those citizens who accused Joe Gibbs Racing of violating the sport's "100 percent" rule.

As Kyle Busch tweeted this past Monday, "Don't hate the player… Hate the game."

Sometimes you've simply got to work the numbers to your advantage. Especially if you want to be relevant come Homestead-Miami in November….

Dr. Mark Howell is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at

as told to Zach Catanzareti

compiled by Aaron Bearden


Q: Short tracks often mean short tempers.  The 1986 Goody's 500 at Martinsville was no exception.  Ricky Rudd had a decent run going before it came to a halt just before the five-eighths' mark of the race.  What happened/

Check back Thursday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Tuesday's Answer:

Q:  The 1990 Goody's 500 at Martinsville is best known for a Hendrick Motorsports brouhaha.  What happened?

A: On lap 290, Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader were fighting for the lead exiting turn 2 when the Hendrick teammates collided.  Both drivers went hard into the inside wall, heavily damaging their vehicles.  The crash can be seen here.

Both drivers were eliminated on the spot as a result of the crash.  Schrader would be credited with 27th, while Rudd was 28th.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have any news that breaks in the world of NASCAR, plus we'll take a look at NBC's coverage from Circuit of the Americas and the new mini-film, "Bonneville 71" on tonight's edition of NASCAR RaceHub.

Toni Montgomery returns with her weekly look at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Nitro Shots.
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