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Oct. 26, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXC
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
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-
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….
TODAY AT FRONTSTRETCH:
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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