What a week it has been. The actions taken by NASCAR this week, taking one driver out and putting two in is unprecedented. What happened last week at Richmond certainly is not.
I'm not sure what exactly started this 'Panic! at the Race Track' as it were. Why people decided that this moment, this particular time that a teammate caused a caution or gave up a spot was the back breaker. But it gained momentum, and NASCAR had to do something. Its hand was forced.
As I have said from day one, this happens all the time. Every week drivers let friends and teammate lead laps, or they don't race them so hard for a position here and there. Even the act of pitting to give your teammate a point or two at Richmond is not an original thought. Why do you think that every member of Michael Waltrip looked like a deer in headlights when the this started to boil at Richmond last weekend? It's been a pretty wildly accepted practice in the sport.
Of course, this week is a game changer in so many ways. It looks to me that in NASCAR's eyes, what was done for Martin Truex, Jr. was some how worse then what was done for Joey Logano, since only the former was removed from the chase. I don't get it and neither does Truex.
"All I did the last two weeks was drive my heart out. I broke my wrist at Bristol. I found out this week that I have two broken bones in there, not just one, which makes things even more difficult. The last two weeks, we raced our hearts out," said Truex. "When the race was over, I wasn't aware of what happened, what the cautions were for. I didn't know the 55 (Brian Vickers) pitted at the end. It's tough to swallow. It's a difficult situation, like I said , for all of us. Just ready to move on."
The Chase will move on, without Truex and with for the first time 13 drivers. Race number one is Chicagoland. Among the Chasers, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Kyle Busch have won at the Illinois track before.
"I really like tracks like Chicagoland where the surface is a little bit worn out, because it makes for better racing," said Harvick. "We were fortunate to win the first couple of races here, so Chicagoland has always been a really good race track for us as far as fans and following, too."
Getting off to a good start to the chase is important, but you don't have to win to win the title.
"Certainly, if we win Chicagoland I'd say, 'Yeah, we're going to win the whole deal. Why do we even have to run the next nine?'" said Kyle Busch. I think in all reality it takes 10 weeks. You have to be strong for 10 weeks. That's the fact of it. You can win five and DNF in the other five and be pointless. You have to be consistent enough, but you may also have to have a couple of wins, too."