...and a few additional topics that come to mind.
Random thoughts on the NASCAR Chase, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the end of a long season:
1. Is there anybody more ready to get this NASCAR season over than Jack Roush? You have to wonder if the mild-to-moderate rule changes between this year and 2015 will be enough to level the Ford playing field between the two Penske cars and the rest of the Fords in the field.
2. That late-race call for four tires for Kevin Harvick, two for Ryan Newman and none for Denny Hamlin? They were all exactly right. Depending on how the rest of the race went, any of the three calls could have been a winning move. It just happened to fall where it was Kevin Harvick’s winning move. Odd though that Jeff Gordon peeled off for tires at the very last stop – he ended up 10th, and you think he could have done better than that if he stayed out and kept track position. It almost looked like he was eliminating himself from the race-ending drama. (He wasn’t, of course, but it looked like it.)
3. A pretty decent farewell for ESPN, though I would have liked to see a little more about what was going on with the other 39 cars in the race. Dale Jarrett has really developed into a good broadcaster – just like his father, Ned. And I really liked the way Allen Bestwick signed off for all the ESPN anchor teams, including Bob Jenkins, Larry Nuber and Benny Parsons.
4. And a tip of the hat to ESPN and Motor Racing Network for mostly avoiding what I was afraid we’d be hearing constantly from lap two on: “If the race ended right now, the points would look like this…”
5. I was the happiest for Tony Stewart, who finally had something good happen to him in 2014. It should also put a spring in the step of everyone at Stewart-Haas, including the people working for Gene Haas’ Formula One team.
6. Sure, Harvick was celebrating, but the giddiest guys should be Brian France and his lieutenants. The four Chase drivers really made his decision to do the “Final Four” at Homestead-Miami look good. So many things could have gone wrong: No Ford in the Ford Ecoboost 400; a driver winning the championship with a 15th-place finish, instead of a one-two contender podium; rain; red flags, Goodyear guessing wrong on the tire compound. But as they often do for the France family, the stars aligned, and the four Chasers all looked liked they deserved to be running for a championship.
7. Like her style of reporting or not, you have to admit that Claire B. Lang of Sirius-XM radio is the hardest-working woman in (NASCAR’s) show business.
8. This really proved that chemistry is everything, didn’t it? Kevin Harvick leaves Richard Childress Racing, hoping for better chemistry at Stewart-Haas. Ryan Newman leaves Stewart-Haas, hoping for better chemistry at Richard Childress Racing. And both find it, where the other guy thought it was lacking.
9. Speaking of championships: Two years ago, Chrysler won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami with the Dodge Charger, and immediately left the series. Last month, Chrysler won the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship in the GT-Le Mans class with the Dodge Viper, and immediately left the series. Saturday, Chrysler won the Trans Am championship at Daytona with the Dodge Challenger, and Sunday, Matt Hagan won the NHRA Funny Car championship at Pomona for Chrysler’s MOPAR brand. Does this mean that Monday, Chrysler will announce it’s leaving Trans Am and the NHRA?
10. I feel terrible for Joey Logano’s jack man. And I thought it was classy that one of Kevin Harvick’s crewmen, in a post-race interview with the aforementioned Claire B. Lang, said that he felt bad for the pit crew that serviced Harvick’s car for seven months, until the first week in September, when Harvick’s constant carping was answered by swapping his crew with Tony Stewart’s. The way Harvick blamed them for everything but the zombie apocalypse, I doubt if they ever could have performed to his satisfaction. This personnel move, like the one previously engineered by Chad Knaus for Jimmie Johnson, proves you are only a “team” until you aren’t.