You’ve gotta take the good with the bad, and we certainly had our share of bad this year! Personally though, the bad helps keep things interesting. We don’t tune in every week to see perfection, and this season was no exception.
The season started off bad for Jimmie Johnson’s team with crew chief Chad Knaus being suspended for the first four races of the season for cheating. This only seemed to motivate the team, as they won two of the four races and also finished in the top ten in the other two during his absence.There were many that although happy with Knaus’ suspension and $25,000 fine, were very unhappy with the ‘punishment’ that was given to Johnson and his car. Instead of being forced to start in the back of the field or given a points penalty, Johnson’s car was sent to the back of the qualifying race instead. Since the Daytona 500 is the only race that has qualifying races, it barely amounted to a slap on the wrist for Johnson. Many felt that the car should have been disqualified, or at the very least been forced to start at the rear of the actual race. Johnson himself showed bad sportsmanship while standing in Victory Lane, dedicating the win to the #48 haters. For me, that statement set the tone for the entire season, and I lost a lot of respect for him that day.
One of the things that has been really bad this season is the coverage (or lack of) on NBC. There were nearly as many commercial breaks as race, and they consistently missed restarts and on-track activities while away on commercial breaks. They even sent viewers to MSNBC to watch post race coverage on more than one occasion. This was very poor coverage on NBC’s part, but what was worse to me, was the bias of the commentators. It seemed that no matter who was winning, or who was in the front, they were always speaking about a Hendrick driver. I often wondered if their paychecks came from NBC or Hendrick Motorsports. Why can’t we have commentators that actually cover what’s going on in the race? Is that too much to ask? There are 43 drivers on the track, at least at the beginning of the race. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear about ALL of them at some point in the race?
The fact that the defending Champion just missed the Chase is something that will be always be thought of as bad for the 2006 season. Tony Stewart won more races than 7 of the Chase drivers, and using the old points system would have finished in fourth place. If there had been a Defending Champion provisional, with Stewart starting the Chase in 11th place, he would have actually beaten Johnson by 5 points and carried home his 2nd consecutive Championship. If there needed to be a reason to fix the Chase, this is the best example, by far.
It’s time that NASCAR quit giving presents! The Lucky Dog Rule or Free Pass or whatever they want to call it needs to either be limited or taken away completely! It is totally ridiculous for a driver to be given multiple laps back, without earning them. When the rule was first implemented, it was so that drivers would quit racing back to the start/finish line to get a lap back when a caution is called. The idea was good, the results aren’t. We have drivers that are willing to do many things to create a caution when they are the one eligible to get their lap back. We saw instances of intentional wrecking, blocking and throwing debris on the track just to get a free pass. Personally, I think if NASCAR is going to continue to have the Lucky Dog, they need to go to single file restarts, and there should be a limit of one Lucky Dog per driver per race. The fact that Kyle Busch received 5 Lucky Dog passes in the same race and was able to finish 9th in that race was totally ridiculous. If any driver is found to cause a caution to get the Lucky Dog, then that driver should not only be penalized by not getting that Lucky Dog, but shouldn’t be eligible for at least the rest of that race, if not more.
Thank you all for the suggestions this week! Next week the Ugly of the season will be the focus. Please keep letting me know what you think!
Til next week.....