NASCAR & Auto Racing

Sorry, Chase foes, format isn't to blame for this one

Some notes and observations on NASCAR, motorsports and more:

OBSERVATIONS

You can't blame the Chase for this one

Kyle Busch led Carl Edwards by 207 points at the end of the first 26 races this year, but two races into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Busch is now 210 points behind.

Chase haters will use that to cast Busch as this year's "victim" of the playoff format, but the reality is that even under the pre-Chase points system Busch would be in free fall. After finishing 34th at New Hampshire and 43rd at Dover, the former system would have Busch 33 points behind Edwards after 28 races.

Talladega hit the fairway by picking Weekley

In one of the all-time perfect fits, Talladega Superspeedway has named professional golfer Boo Weekley as the honorary starter for the upcoming AMP Energy 500 at the Alabama track.

Weekley, from Milton, Fla., was one of the stars in the American Ryder Cup victory last weekend and he's also a big NASCAR fan who has actually attended a race at Talladega. He also did the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Lowe's Motor Speedway when the PGA Tour came to Charlotte earlier this year.

MY TWO CENTS

Longtime customers - fans - deserve some consideration

NASCAR is certainly feeling effects of what's going on in America's economy these days, but the bigger impact figures to come next season.

Many fans who have tickets at a given track year in and year out had this year's tickets paid for months in advance. That was before gas prices surged and the other bad news hit as hard as it has in recent weeks. But a lot of fans have swallowed hard and found a way to make it to the races this year.

But now, tracks are sending out renewals for their 2009 events. Fans are making the difficult decisions about whether they can afford to pay for the tickets now and worry about if they'll once again be able to find ways next year to take care of the travel, the hotels, the food and all of the other costs of going to the track.

If I ran a track in the current environment, I would come up with a way to give my customers options. If a fan who has bought tickets in the past can't renew in 2009, I'd leave that fan at the same level of priority he now has for one year. I would offer him a chance to come back to the same level of seat he has in 2010, hoping things get better.

You could argue that's not fair to the people who do choose to buy tickets for 2009 and deserve the right to move up the ladder for their willingness to step up in difficult times. But it strikes me that the longer view would wind up keeping more fans in the market for tickets further down the road.

BY THE NUMBERS

510 - Most points scored in first three Chase races in any year (Kurt Busch 2004 and Ryan Newman 2005).

131 - Points Greg Biffle needs Sunday at Kansas to top the best Chase start ever after having won the first two races at New Hampshire and Dover.

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