Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickBromberg.We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy.
But there's not much happiness this week, is there? The events of Saturday night where Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward at a dirt track after Ward exited his vehicle has easily been the biggest motorsports story in the last 10 years. It's an incredibly unfortunate incident.
Because of the magnitude of the accident, lots of people have either seen the video of the incident or read multiple stories. And because it's been such a big story, people feel they have something to say about it. Let's start with this now-deleted tweet that I got on Wednesday.
This is an utterly absurd notion. First, those NASCAR journalists who have been in New York have turned out some incredible work. Who was Kevin Ward? What was he like? When new facts, yes, facts, are released and found, they're being distributed and written about.
Second, this is an ongoing police investigation. The crime scene is a speedway that's not a public intersection. Information is extremely limited. Two people were directly involved in the incident. One is tragically dead. The other hasn't said anything largely because, as was just mentioned, this is an ongoing investigation.
Third, let's be blunt. Opinions mean excrement when it comes to this situation. Absolute excrement. The opinion of mine, yours, your cousin, your friend who you haven't spoken to in 10 years but races some dirt track events or anyone else not directly involved in what happened mean absolutely nothing.
We know that Ward was tragically hit by Stewart's car 24 seconds after his car came to a rest from contact with the turn two wall. Anyone who thinks they can explain any other detail from intent to circumstance or anything else from a one-minute blurry video from across the track is projecting. It's as simple as that.
However, the limited information hasn't stopped the projections. Since we don't know the equation that led to the ultimate outcome, many people think they need to find it.
Sometimes it's OK to not know. And sometimes it's OK to not form an opinion on a matter due to a lack of data. This can certainly be one of those times.
In an information-based world, I realize that may be tough to say or read. But it's the truth. We may eventually find out what part of the equation is when the investigation is complete and/or via potential litigation in the future. But right now we don't know much beyond what we can clearly see and the facts presented by the Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Department. If you're willing to build on such a perilous foundation, do so at your own risk and with the knowledge that the foundation may not even exist in the first place.
And another thing. If you don't typically go to a source for your racing news, don't go to that source for information or perspective regarding what happened. In events like this, those most responsible are typically the ones with the most familiarity with the situation and its context. Keep that in mind. There's a lot of noise out there. Just because it exists doesn't mean you have to listen to it.
Alright, off the soapbox. Let's talk some Cup racing.
It's certainly a scenario that NASCAR had in mind when building this Chase format. NASCAR really suffers with a lack of surprise in single races and throughout the course of a season. Very rarely can a team have an untelegraphed turnaround from year-to-year and with the exception of restrictor plate tracks and road courses, it takes a confluence of extreme events to lead to a winner who you wouldn't have had on a relative short list before the weekend began.
But is having two teams like that simply making the Chase good enough for the underdog and surprise element? For the angle to get some traction, either driver will have to be around after the first and maybe second potential rounds of elimination. And because of the preceding paragraph, it's extremely tough.
In regards to pressure, the most obvious driver would have been Stewart. But that's not even worth considering at the moment. Therefore it's Kasey Kahne. He needs to join his three teammates in the Chase.
@NickBromberg Are you surprised with how little Stenhouse has improved? Roush has struggled but still would expect more than 27th in points.— Kevin Mastro (@KevMastro) August 13, 2014
With the crew chief change back to his former Nationwide Series crew chief, it stood to reason that Stenhouse would be better in 2014. And yes, while Roush has struggled relatively speaking, Stenhouse has simply been off the map.
When you're looking at disappointments among drivers who you didn't expect to make the Chase before the season began, Stenhouse is at or near the top of the list.
@NickBromberg Is the reason the Chrome Horn hasnt had a new episode since June because the million dollar Chrome Horn studio doesnt get ESPN— thedopp (@thedopp) August 13, 2014
The Chrome Horn will be back shortly. Promise. We had some issues holding up production in July, but now it's a matter of time and scheduling. It has not disappeared.
(And for the record, the studio gets all of the sports channels save the Pac-12 Network. Work on that, Pac-12.)
Since it was announced way back at 'Dega that there aren't any plans to move the last race of the year any time in the future from Homestead, how is that going to affect teams this year, and especially next year, in testing? Specifically those teams that have historically horrible average or inconsistant finishes there. For example: -Jimmie Johnson has never won there, but has 8 top 10's in 13 starts (average finish of 22nd in the past two years though) -Kyle Busch has an average finish of 21st in 9 starts, with only 3 top 10's
Do the "contenders" put testing at Homestead on their radar in the future, or do they just assume they'll find a hot streak if they're still in it when they get to that race like the 99 and the 14 did when they dueled it out? Or in conspiracy theory land, are the stats not completely true because drivers are shockingly not giving 100% when they're not battling for the championship? - Brian R.
Does it change at all? If a team wanted to test at Homestead and use one of your four NASCAR tests there, you could say the team was making the assumption that it would be in the championship hunt when the time came.
You can argue that teams believe there's more of a shot of Homestead meaning something to them at the end of the year. In previous Chase years we haven't seen four drivers eligible for the title in the final race. Now it's guaranteed to be that. Does the combination of a potentially bigger chance at being eligible for the title and a more weighted race mean we see an increase of testing? It's an interesting thought.
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