No. 964
September 19, 2018

About The Autoextremist


Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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September 8, 2010

The "chase" for the championship, Autoextremist-style.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

The much-anticipated - not in these circles but in some circles anyway - NASCAR "chase" for the Sprint Cup Championship begins in two weeks in Loudon, New Hampshire, after the series makes its second appearance of the year at Richmond International Raceway next weekend. The convoluted "chase" - Brian France's Big Idea to take NASCAR into this new century - was created to manufacture interest in a series that traditionally ran out of gas in the fall, burdened by an excruciatingly tedious points race that usually had all the excitement of a cocktail mixer at a library convention.

But after four straight championship runs by Jimmie Johnson and the stark realization that the hope of NASCAR actually competing with the NFL and college football on an even footing was a fleeting notion at best, NASCAR is right back where it was before the "chase" for the championship was created. In other words, out of gas.


Schedule fatigue has a lot to do with it, but that's only part of it. Not only does NASCAR cling to its ridiculous death march of a schedule, it saddles its vaunted "chase" with too many ho-hum races at too many cookie-cutter race tracks. There's nothing like setting-up its loyal, NASCAR-centric fan base for massive disappointment right out of the gate, but the brainiacs in Daytona Beach seem to have the disappointment business down cold of late.

So what can be done?

Let's pretend for a moment that there was someone down in Daytona Beach with a shred of vision and an ounce of creativity and most important, a willingness to walk away from the oppressive "we've always done it this way" mentality that perennially cripples NASCAR from getting out of its own way. And even better, let's say this person has the ultimate power to re-invent the championship. What would that "chase" look like? Let's suspend reality for a moment and imagine a "chase" for the championship, Autoextremist-style.

Okay, I like Richmond being the last regular season race before the "chase" but that's about it. From here on, it gets weird.

Race 1: No, not New Hampshire. Instead, a road race to kick-off the "chase." The venue? Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and a stone's throw from the heart of Packer Country. 50 Laps, 200 miles, with the crisp cool autumn air helping to cool those frying brakes.

Race 2: Eldora. The entire Sprint Cup field cut loose on the half-mile dirt track called the "Big E." Utilize the heat race format and end up with the best of the best in an "A Main" feature. Not feasible? Come on. NASCAR can even give cash to its teams to help defray the costs of building the dirt-specific cars. And wait a minute, aren't these guys touted as some of the best drivers in the world? Prove it.

Race 3: Kansas. We'll leave the France family's latest track-side money making machine - the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway - alone and give them this one. Besides, it's a good first stop heading west.

Race 4: Las Vegas. Leave the empty grandstands and uninterested southern California "fans" at Fontana behind. Race in Las Vegas instead, besides if it gets too boring there's always The Strip. It's all good. Plus, it almost gets us to California, and now we're heading north.

Race 5: Laguna Seca. The only people who don't agree that the road races on the Sprint Cup calendar are the best races of the year are in NASCAR's upper management. So we're adding more road races to the "chase" and it's going to be spectacular.

Race 6:
Texas. Not a good idea to go up against football in Texas, but it's always worth the effort to race here.

Race 7: Talladega. NASCAR has to go to Talladega for the "chase." It's pre-ordained and etched in stone.

Race 8: Martinsville. From high-banks hysteria to a half-mile flat track bull ring. What could be better?

Race 9: Charlotte. The spirtual home of stock car racing and where most of the teams are based, Charlotte remains NASCAR's premier speedway venue. They gotta be there.

Race 10: Daytona International Speedway. In February. Yes, after a six-week break the teams return to Daytona Beach to settle it all in the Daytona 500. I'm sick of the NASCAR hype machine calling the Daytona 500 "our Super Bowl." If it is, then so be it. Make it for all the marbles in the most important stock car race of the year. And then crown the Sprint Cup champion in victory lane.

Okay, we can suspend our little stream of consciousness session here and understand that none of this is going to happen. Ever.

But it sure would generate a lot of interest.

And it sure would be fun.


Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Sebring, Florida, 1964. Ken Miles in the Shelby American Cobra 427 Prototype (CX2196) that he co-drove with Bob Johnson. The Shelby American team stuffed a 427 V8 in the Cobra to better compete against the Corvette Grand Sport racers. The car didn't finish after the engine let go.


Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD



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