Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rating the Hollywood Casino 400: 2 Stars **

Sunday’s race at Kansas certainly looked like a lot of Chase races in the past five years as Jimmie Johnson ran his trademark Chase-dominating race and scored his second win of the season. However, he stunk up the show, which turns in the fourth 2 Star Rating in the four Chase races.

Wow, has Kansas become the new California? In past years, the Chase race at California was the most predictable race of the season. Johnson would dominate. Period. Move on to the next race.

Well, he did the same thing Sunday.

While NASCAR may be pleased that the points standings are remaining close, this certainly looks very similar to the last five years. That #48 car was on a rail nearly the entire race Sunday. When that team hits the setup right, nobody can catch it.

Overall, the race at Kansas emphasized the issues many NASCAR fans love to complain about. Johnson kicked the field’s butt, there were debris cautions and much of the race was devoid of any action. It’s wonderful that the middle of the field looks like a swarm of bees after restarts, but some of that action has to continue after the first few laps.

After the field settled down after the restarts, that was it. Everybody rode around until the next pit stops.

It’s not the drivers’ faults, necessarily. The racing, or lack thereof, we have seen in the first four Chase races isn’t terribly different than several of the races during the middle of the regular season.

Unfortunately, the current configuration of the cars makes it incredibly difficult to pass. Nobody made a pass at New Hampshire, the only lead changes at Dover came after a restart and Kansas looked similar to those past two races. The only difference was this track was a bit longer and had a tri-oval.

However, all is not lost. The lack of action in the first part of the Chase has kept the points standings bunched together. Right now eight drivers are still within 20 points of the lead, and the front three are separated by just four points. That could set up a wild run to the championship.

Also, the racing should get better in the coming weeks. Races at Charlotte are usually interesting and exciting more often than not. Talladega is a wild ride no matter the rules or style of racing and Martinsville has been the most exciting short track on the schedule the past few years.

So, shake off the early Chase cobwebs and get set for a stretch of races that hopefully turns up the excitement factor. Maybe excitement is too strong of a word at this point. A race that is a little more watchable would be a good start.

Thank goodness most of the Chase has yet to be run. Although the standings are tight, the races have had very little tension.

The next few races have to be better. But hey, they can’t be much worse.


  1. I'm not expecting CMS to be that exciting, Martinsville and Talladega may be the only watchable races in the Chase this year.

  2. couldn't agree more....Bathurst and the Japanese F1 were both tense as anything and Kansas had to go ruin a great weekend :(

  3. I think PHX will be the most exciting race of the Chase from what I am hearing about the resurfacing - the drivers dont like it at all.

    Perhaps there will be some excitement at CMS with the ladies racing...otherwise JJ takes it again.

  4. Gene - Those are the two races I've been waiting for. It will be interesting to see what the new restrictor-plate rules do to the racing at Talladega.

    texgm99 - I bet, wish I could've seen Bathurst. Hope it went well enough that SPEED continues to show races like that.

    klvalus - I hope Phoenix is exciting! I'm guessing we'll hear plenty of complaining that weekend. There could be a lot of stuff going on there with the championship picture and everything. Are you set to be there that weekend?