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2011 Sprint Cup Winner Tony Stewart

2011 Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart with the Sprint Cup. (photo credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

This year marks a year of great change in NASCAR and for fans trying to navigate these changes. The first change is a new qualifying procedure that has multiple cars on the track at any given time- deemed “Knockout Qualifying.” Next the whole 2014 Chase format has been changed (think of the NASCAR Chase as being a championship playoffs if you are new to NASCAR).  Instead of 12 drivers (what it has been in seasons past)- the Chase has been expanded to 16 spots- where drivers are subsequently knocked out of the chase in three three-race rounds- eventually narrowing the field to four cars for the final race in Homestead-Miami. That right there seems like a lot of change right?

But what seems to be causing a lot of the confusion right now is HOW a driver qualifies for that Chase. Somehow- the idea that if a driver wins a race in the “regular season” (defined as the first 26 POINTS PAYING races of the NASCAR season) that driver is qualified for the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Series Cup.  This has been mentioned by national media on TV as well as by drivers.  Because of all the confusion, I decided to go back to the original NASCAR release announcing the new Chase format (which also address exactly HOW a driver qualifies for that chase) and read over it several times.

Let me answer some questions as I understand the new rules: (more…)

I have been as antsy for the 2014 season to start as I can ever remember being.  I am sure most Tony Stewart fans know that feeling I am talking about. Hopefully it brings back our beloved driver into the driver’s seat where he belongs, where we love to see him.  Since his injury at the beginning of August I know that I personally struggled to maintain much of an interest in the 2013 NASCAR season.  It was hard for me to get into it on that personal enjoyment level. Yes my driver’s car was out there being piloted (mostly by Mark Martin – but also by Max Papis and Austin Dillon depending on the race) and yes my driver happens to also be an owner so I had other teams to root for, but it felt much like watching football feels to me. I am vaguely interested in what is happening but not personally vested in it. I miss that feeling.

That said- there is still the unknown for our driver. How will he be able to physically be able to handle the car? The 500 is a long race.  He will only have been in the car a bit for the practices and Sprint Unlimited. I know he is chomping at the bit to get into the car and drive and I honestly can not blame him- I WANT him in there too…but part of me worries it is too soon, he’s not healed enough, etc. Because I am a worrier- that is what I do.  So this fear of the unknown is knot one.

But now- NASCAR is switching everything up this season. (more…)