What they’re saying about the Chase
November 4, 2006
This year’s Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship just gets better and better. As I mentioned earlier, Brian France must be doing cartwheels of joy in his office, even though TV ratings are down. However, with the World Series over, my prediction is that sports fans will be coming back for the final four Chase races.
Of course, the situation has prompted racing writers all over the country (and the world) to stretch their vocabularies and metaphorical skills to the limit, and I’ll share some of the more eloquent commentary with you here:
“It’s NASCAR’s version of the Final Four – four races to go to decide the championship . . . in what is shaping up as the tightest title fight in NASCAR history.” – Larry Woody, The Tennessean
“A stampede of the most dramatic story lines I can remember this late in a NASCAR season.” – Ed Hinton, Chicago Tribune
“This format is more difficult to predict than chaos theory.” – Monte Dutton, Gaston Gazette
“Who is the driver to beat? If this were a mystery novel, there would be enough suspects to keep the story going for 700 pages.” – Tony Fabrizio, Tampa Tribune
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“With the Chase for the Championship packed tighter than a can of sardines . . .” – Brad Harrison, Macon Telegraph
“The introduction of the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship was indeed greeted with don’t-fix-what’s-not-broken attitude. But now, three years later and in the middle of what may be one of the most exciting championship runs in the series’ short history, it appears minds have been changed en masse.” – Jim Pedley, Kansas City Star.
“The race to the Chase looks more like a billiards game, with drivers changing positions while often whacking into one another.” – Dave Caldwell, New York Times
“Welcome to NASCAR’s latest rendition of the playoffs, the Chaos for the Cup . . . The consensus of this week’s punditry is that a free-for-all down to the wire is precisely what NASCAR wanted when it initiated the Chase in 2004. No doubt, there’s plenty to talk about.” – Ed Hinton, Orlando Sentinel
“The next five NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races are the rough equivalent of a parallel parking contest among 12 guys in Hummers vying for eight meters – blindfolded.” – Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Either the apocalypse is upon us, or NASCAR’s Chase for the championship has gone from merely chaotic to downright bizarre . . . The playoffs have broken so wide open that the sun has broken through even for the 47-year-old veteran long notorious for the bleakest, humblest outlook in all of NASCAR.” – Ed Hinton, Chicago Tribune
“If the Chase were a prescription drug, it would be recalled by the FDA. It’s side effects include short-term memory loss, symptoms of schizophrenia and senseless belligerence.” – Monte Dutton, Gaston Gazette
“Some call ‘The Twilight Zone’ the true beginning of modern science fiction. Perhaps the Chase is the beginning of post-modern science fiction.” – Monte Dutton
“This may be the never-say-never championship.” – Mike Mulhern, Winston Salem Journal
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call …… The Chase.” – Monte Dutton
My personal take on the whole thing is that with the swings in drivers’ fortunes from week to week, the yo-yo from despair to exultation and back again as one or another competitor suffers a disaster or scores a triumph, the Chase has taken on the aspect of a bad case of bipolar disorder for both the drivers and the Chase itself.
Mark Martin, the most optimistic pessimist (or pessimistic optimist) in the garage area, appears to be out of the Chase going into Texas.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” said Martin in more than one interview. But with four races left to go, and the way things have shaken out so far, I’m not counting Mark out. And he’s not the only driver to concede the title only to bounce back. You know, this Chase thing just might catch on!