Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 12:21pm UTC
By Luke, Thunder Lounge
Published on Thunder Lounge.
This is the question that has went unasked thus far in 2008. It’s time, past time actually, to ask it.
Currently, the best Rookie in the Owners Points is Sam Hornish Jr. He currently sits in 35th for 2008, as we head into race #6 where this years points take effect. Next up is Martinsville, and there are guys behind him with a lot more experience at this track. Considering the finesse it takes, this track has a habit of kicking Rookies to the curb. The odds of Hornish Jr. overcoming this are ones I wouldn’t take in any bookie joint in the land.
Behind Sam Hornish Jr. comes the rest of the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates.
Dario Franchitti is in 38th, just 37 points back, with Regan Smith nipping at his heels and just 2 points behind him in 39th.
Then we have Patrick Carpentier bringing up the rear, 186 points out of 35th (46th overall) and just 2 starts out of 5 possible this season. Stick a fork in their Top-35 efforts. They’re done.
What begs to be asked is that whether or not the Top-35 will be the deciding factor in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year winner for 2008. I’ll bet it does. It already has.
For those who are unfamiliar with how this all works out, here’s the description from the NASCAR.com Rookie Standings Page:
“Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates earn points based on their best 17 finishes of the season. Points are earned through entry points, competition points based on finish, top 10 bonus points, bonus points based on three segments of the season and a panel of voters at the completion of the season.”
|Rank||Car #||Driver||Distance From 35th|
|35th||#77||Sam Hornish Jr.||0|
|38th||#40||Dario Franchitti||Behind 37pts|
|39th||#01||Regan Smith||Behind 39pts|
|46th||#10||Patrick Carpentier||Back 186pts|
You will notice that it says “their best 17 finishes of the season“.
If driver A makes 30 races, and the next driver makes 20 races, didn’t driver A just get a 10 race advantage by having the opportunity to have more races to select their best 17 finishes from?
Sam Hornish Jr. is in 35th right now. What’s also not taken into consideration is that at least for a race or two, quite possibly more, Michael McDowell will be in the #00 for Michael Waltrip Racing when David Reutimann takes over the #44 at Martinsville.
Not that it’s likely, but the possibility (however slim) is there that just by him keeping it in the Top-35 he could literally run away with the Rookie of the Year, and missing the first 5 races of the year. Then again, it could be Hornish that does the same. Based solely on nothing more than having had 17 races to choose from, when other drivers may have much less.
While those races are not the only factor, they make up most of it. That being the case, the better the odds and the more races you have under your belt, the better you’re going to come out in the wash.
Now the question is, is this a fair way to judge the performance of the rookie class? Sure, you have to make a race to compete, which is part of the whole process. However, if someone makes just 12, but runs really well (better than someone barely keeping it in the Top-35) then how does that play out?
What we have here is yet another fiasco waiting to happen, and it’s on the verge of exploding. Nothing against Sam Hornish Jr., or any other rookie for that matter, however there is room for improvement in the overall system.
I don’t know what the answer is, honestly. There are so many possibilities, and none that can be implemented mid-stream in the season.
Should you go back to a 2 day qualifying session with provisionals? Maybe lock in the Top-20 as well?
How about increase the field? Where did 42 plus one past champion, to make 43 spots come from anyway? Why not add a couple starting spots, and make it an even 46, 48, or even 50? Surely there is enough room for everyone. OK, Martinsville and Bristol might be a tick on the tight side, but it can be done.
Right now, there are enough teams that are trying to run full time that opening even 3 more spots would help. There wouldn’t be a worry of “field fillers”, although some at the very back of the Top-50 in points now could be considered flirting with that concept. However, that’s not by lack of effort, it’s from a lack of funding, brought on by the whole Top-35 deal.
I have no answer to the problem, but there has to be a solution that works out for everyone involved. Whether that’s more spots, less lock-in’s, provisionals, or whatever the case may be.
One thing I do know, however, is that Saturday’s at Richmond (and Bristol) sure are boring when there isn’t a thing going on at the track before the sun goes down, the lights come up, and the show begins.
Join the discussion.
Filed Under: Chip Ganassi Racing #40, Dale Earnhardt Inc #01, Dario Franchitti, Drivers, Evernham Motorsports #10, Martinsville, Nascar, Regan Smith, Sprint Cup, Teams, Tracks
Tagged As: Dario Franchitti, Michael McDowell, Michael Waltrip Racing, Patrick Carpentier, Raybestos, Regan Smith, Rookie, Rookie of the Year, ROTY, Sam Hornish Jr, Top-35
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