Monday, October 26, 2015

Circus act

And now this week's dispatch from the country of NASCAR, aka What's That Damn Harvick Doing This Time, aka No, Not That Green-White-Checker Finish ...

Item the first: Yes, they're still racing.

Item the second: What's that damn Harvick doing this time?

Well, what a lot of people thought he was doing Sunday was deciding Talladega wasn't crazy enough, so, you know, let's wreck some guys. With a dying motor and his shot at moving on in the Chase elimination dying with it, defending Cup champion Kevin Harvick either did or didn't deliberately drive into the back of Trevor Bayne on a green-white-checker finish, triggering what 'Dega connoisseurs call the Big One.

That effectively froze the field, preserving Joey Logano's third straight victory and a 15th-place finish for Harvick. And that in turn kept him in seventh place in the standings as the Chase field was cut to eight.

Harvick swears he didn't intentionally trigger the accident to keep his chances at back-to-back Cups alive, but the circumstantial evidence to the contrary is strong. One, without the crash, he and his corpse of a motor likely would have dropped like a rock in the final two laps. Two, right before the restart, Harvick's crew chief was heard to say the only thing that could save them now was a crash.

Moments later ... hey, whatta ya know! A crash!

Compounding the lunacy was NASCAR president Mike Helton claiming he didn't see anything fishy about the whole business. This despite the fact it was fishy to begin with because NASCAR decided on the spur of the moment to change the rules, decreeing one green-white-checker attempt instead of the standard three.

Then they botched the first attempt at that and had to try again.

None of this, of course, amused in the slightest the grassy knoll crowd, a powerful NASCAR constituency which sees conspiracy lurking behind every stack of Goodyears. And it left more dispassionate observers (for instance, the guy driving this sentence) to wonder who thought it was a good idea to make Talladega a Chase elimination race to begin with.

It's true Harvick could have triggered a crash elsewhere if he was so inclined, but it's equally true Talladega, with its preponderance of green-white-checker finishes, is tailor-made for gaming the system. And if Harvick didn't do that Sunday, he sure made it look that way.

The solution: Either get 'Dega off the Chase schedule altogether, or make it a non-elimination
race. Otherwise ...

Well. More shenanigans await.


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