There were many stories and take-aways to have from last weekend’s NASCAR race at the Roval. Chase “From the Same Place” Elliott crashed from the lead and then won in a dominating fashion as he drove back up through the field. There was the controversy between Alex Bowman and Bubba Wallace along with the clock striking midnight on the #6 Roush-Fenway Ford Mustang.
Ryan Newman narrowly missed the next round of the playoffs by making a mistake in the closing laps that cost him the several precious points needed to advance after serving a penalty. His whole race centered around the points battle for that coveted 12th place points position that excluded you from elimination. Newman’s race concerned only those that surrounded him in points, just like points racing in any other form for motorsports.
Clint Bowyer, the driver of the #14 Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang, referenced many times throughout the year that stage points were critical for him to not only make the playoffs but advancing in them. Jimmie Johnson, who missed this year’s playoffs for the first time since the playoff/chase format began in 2004, echoed those statements when his bid into NASCAR’s version of the postseason seemed weary.
A premium has been placed on points that I don’t believe motorsports has ever seen. Being competitive all race long at the front of the field yields your greatest reward at stage end. As earning stage points on top of your race result is the only real way to separate yourself from the pack. Teams have built their strategies for the race weekend around them.
I know, I’m preaching on a points system that was introduced in 2017, but I don’t think we as fans appreciate what it brings to NASCAR as much as we should. It creates excitement, it produces pressure, it requires drivers to be exceptional all race weekend.
I enjoy that; especially when a chance to advance forward for a championship is on the line, much like it was at the Roval.
So that is my take away from last weekend’s race. That points racing has become more than managing a gap and being happy with the finish you got. It has become about pushing on every lap and attacking when the opportunity presents itself.
You know, like racecar drivers are supposed to do.
photo credit: roushfenway.com