- Marty Smith, NASCAR
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Hypothetical: Say Mark Martin indeed follows the original plan for 2007 and hands the tank over to Regan Smith at Bristol Motor Speedway in a couple of weeks. And say the duo ultimately performs well enough in tandem to win the season's owner points championship.
What then? Is there any true benefit? Or might it be an ol' kiss-your-sister deal?
Running the proposed partial schedule -- 16 of the first 26 races for Martin, 10 for Smith, according to Ginn Racing executive Jay Frye -- neither driver will accumulate the driver points necessary for Chase qualification. So they can't run for a true championship.
But what if they combine to score the owner's title?
Get this: There are actually two Chases for the Nextel Cup -- a driver Chase and an owner Chase. Like the driver points, the owner points are reset after the season's 26th race at Richmond.
Here's the exact terminology from an amendment to the NASCAR Nextel Cup rulebook issued to teams regarding the 2007 changes to the Chase:
"After the completion of the first 26 events of the current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship season, the top 12 drivers in the driver championship point standings and the top 12 car owners in the car owner championship point standings will each have their accumulated aggregate point total adjusted to 5,000 points.
"In addition, ten bonus points will be awarded to the adjusted aggregate point total of these top 12 drivers in the driver championship point standings and these top 12 car owners in the car owner championship point standings for each first place finish in each of the first 26 events of the current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series championship season.
"The adjusted aggregate driver and car owner championship point standings (including bonus points) will be effective entering the 27th event."
Hello, dilemma. What's NASCAR to do if Driver X wins the driver Chase, but Martin/Smith/Ginn score the owner's Chase? Dual head tables at the banquet?
That'd be fitting. Start the year with Duels. End the year with duals.
Ultimately it'd mean a decent little payday for Ginn Racing. The winner's portion of the point fund is 22 percent of the overall total. Last year, that total was $6,785,982. Half went to driver Jimmie Johnson, half to Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon, Johnson's car owners.
If Martin/Smith/Ginn were to win the owner's title, they'd pocket the $3,392,991 owner's point-fund purse. (Well, more, given that figure was last year's take and this year figures to be more lucrative.)
Not bad, even for a gabillionaire like Bobby Ginn.
Chop's Line of the Week: "If I were Montoya, I'd be glad I've got fenders now."
Question: All this talk about Mark Martin raises an important fact XXXX It's not that important if he does miss the race. With the new Chase rules, his rankings will not really be impacted, especially if he wins a couple of races.
Keep in mind that the 12th-place driver is usually more than 500 points out of first, and Martin is probably at worst going to lose 190. I think that could be why he's not nearly as worried about missing a race as everyone else is.
-- Josh H., Woodstock, Ill.
Interesting observation, Josh. And you're right, one race wouldn't hurt. However, 10 is a different story.
I honestly think it's even simpler than that, though. Martin has had it with the circus, and frankly has earned the right to race whenever and wherever the heck he pleases.
First, great response to Dan from "Missing In Action," Fla. What team do you think will benefit the most from the COT and which team will struggle with the COT transition?
-- Buddy, Hanover, Pa.
In my estimation, Toyota is the big winner with the Car of Tomorrow, Buddy. By introducing a totally new car, NASCAR instantly placed Toyota on the same plane as the Nextel Cup super teams. That bridges a mammoth gap for Toyota. Once on that plane, it's more than willing to spend whatever it takes on research and development to compete.
As for the biggest loser? NASCAR's smaller teams, such as Morgan-McClure. Sure, it initially puts them on that same plane with the super teams, but whereas Toyota has the financial ability to stay there, the small teams don't. This will further separate the haves and have-nots in the sport.
You seem like you are a very smart guy, and I think that is great for the image of NASCAR. I mean, it can't hurt the image when people turn on ESPN and hear you using those big words that you tend to use.
Unfortunately, I usually don't know what those big words mean. Can you tone it down a bit? I love the information you give -- when I can understand what you mean. And I don't mean the racing lingo, I mean regular words that people with Master's degrees use.
By the way, do you have a Master's?
-- Christine, Louisville, Ky.
Most of my friends clown me for said verbiage, too, Christine. You're not alone. My ESPN colleague, Shannon Spake, asks me all the time what I just said. The chief hater, though, is Jimmie Johnson. He is forever giving me lip on our XM Radio show, says he needs a dictionary to hang out with me.
It's truly not on purpose. I don't study these words. Matter of fact, it's in direct correlation to my upbringing. My mother and father are both very well read -- like, a-book-a-week well-read. When I was younger, I had this habit of asking where something or someone was "at." Momma invariably responded, "Behind the at."
And no, no master's degree. I'm not that diligent.
Are all penalties able to have appeals heard, or are some just one-way tickets to trouble? I'm specifically thinking of Michael Waltrip Racing, but have there been others?
-- Bruce, The Bay Area, Calif.
Rest assured, screwing around with the fuel is most certainly a one-way ticket to trouble, Bruce.
That said, Waltrip did have the opportunity to appeal. According to NASCAR, teams have the right to appeal every penalty. There is a 10-day period from the time the penalty is issued to file an appeal. MWR simply chose not to do so.
Couple more names for the COT. Just for fun I really don't have a problem with the COT but I like making fun of stuff.
Mermaid: From a distance it looks great, but up close you find out where the fishy odor is coming from. (Also because the wing reminds me of a tail fin)
Wild Turkey: My favorite after the "whale." It's big and round like you want your turkey to be, and many drivers would like to carve it up.
FAFIA: (Sounds like some kind of Italian racing term doesn't it?) Fast And Furious It Ain't
Bloodhound: It's got its nose to the ground and it's coming towards you whether you are running from it or not.
Hope you enjoy! Have a nice weekend.
-- Brandon Averette, Lincolnton, N.C.
For once, I am speechless.
With that, I'm off to Sin City. Bellagio sports book. ACC men's basketball tourney. Go Hokies.
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.
What if Mark Martin sits out 10 races just as he has said he would and still ends up winning a points title? Marty Smith goes Door-To-Door to lay out the scenario.