Backseat Drivers Fan Council
Handicapping the Chase and the year's biggest surprises
By: Matt Taliaferro | 9/12/12, 7:51 PM EDT
NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship is here and with it comes the question of who will win it. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council tackle that question and more, including what is the biggest surprise this year and if they think drivers give their best effort every race. Here’s what the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had to say about those issues and more.
Who will win the Chase?
23.7 percent picked Jimmie Johnson
17.1 percent picked Denny Hamlin
17.1 percent picked Dale Earnhardt Jr.
11.5 percent picked Jeff Gordon
9.8 percent picked Brad Keselowski
7.0 percent picked Tony Stewart
4.2 percent picked Greg Biffle
2.8 percent picked Clint Bowyer
2.4 percent picked Kevin Harvick
2.4 percent picked Matt Kenseth
2.1 percent picked Kasey Kahne
0.0 percent picked Martin Truex Jr.
What Fan Council members said:
• Hoping for a first-timer, suspecting it will be a six-timer.
• Here's hoping that Denny can keep it going for the next 10 weeks. I would love to see Grubb prove to everyone he's one of the best in the garage.
• Jimmie Johnson is running good and heading into familiar territory on some tracks he dominates. No-brainer, here. It's Johnson's to lose.
• Dale Jr. for a change — if Stevie can hold them together.
• After (Saturday) night, I believe that Gordon and the 24 team are capable of ANYTHING. And he wants it as badly as I've ever seen him want something.
• I think there are a couple of very good choices here, but I'm going to say Jeff Gordon. After the horrendous start to his season, his team worked their butts off & that hard work paid off the last few races.
• My heart says Dale Jr., but my head says Jimmie!
• Denny will win the championship after a battle between he and Kasey Kahne.
• Brad Keselowski is, in my opinion, a cross between Dale Sr. and Darrell Waltrip, and we know what they did.
• You can't go wrong picking a Hendrick driver, but I hope Harvick takes it with no wins to rid us of the Chase.
What has been the biggest surprise for the 2012 season?
35.1 percent said Michael Waltrip Racing putting two cars in the Chase
32.6 percent said Carl Edwards missing the Chase after nearly winning the title last year
29.6 percent said Jeff Gordon rallying to take the final wild card spot from Kyle Busch
2.7 percent said Denny Hamlin leading the points entering the Chase
What Fan Council members said:
• All of the above are surprises, but Carl Edwards not making the Chase is the biggest surprise of all.
• I didn't think MWR would put ANY cars in the Chase, let alone two!
• With the luck that he has had this year, I had written Gordon off MONTHS ago. Even as recently as Watkins Glen, I knew he wouldn't make it. But he made me eat my words.
• Mark Martin, in his interview following the race, stated it best: MWR has been plugging away in the shadows and now we all can see their determination, especially with Truex.
• Not a big fan of Mikey, but if you told me he would have more in the Chase than Gibbs, Childress and Penske I would thought you were crazy.
• After ending last season with a tiebreaker I really thought Carl would have at least made the Chase. That 99 team has me completely puzzled this year. It just seems strange that the second-place finisher of the Chase does so poorly the next year. I sure hope if Dale Jr. doesn't win the Chase that he finishes third.
• Carl Edwards not really being competitive AT ALL this year was a huge surprise to me. I never would have predicted that.
• I think MWR has to be the biggest surprise of 2012 so far. They put their two full-time drivers into the Chase and their No. 55 with (three) drivers almost made the Owners Points Chase. This is an incredible step forward for this organization. They are consistently in the top 10 each week, so making the Chase was not a fluke. That being said, I don't think they are championship contenders. Not yet.
• Biggest surprise was how the whole No. 18 team fell apart and didn't make the Chase.
• While I expected two of JGR's cars in the Chase, I definitely didn't think that Denny would be sitting atop the points.
• MWR has probably become the No. 1 team for Toyota over JGR. Anyone who watched that team two years ago would have laughed if they were told this would happen. The team deserves a lot of credit for having two teams that are not only in the Chase, but have legitimate title hopes.
Do you think drivers give their best effort every week?
71.0 percent said Yes
29.0 percent said No
What Fan Council members said:
• These guys are busting their butts every week. Effort is NOT a question.
• Not since the stupid Chase began. Drivers have admitted to not racing as hard as they would have if they weren't trying to protect their spot in it. I don't think it applies to every driver, however. I do think there are a few that give their best effort every week. But they are becoming more rare.
• No matter how boring some races may seem to be, there is no doubt in my mind that ALL the drivers put their everything into a race. I believe even the start & parkers give it their best … it's not their fault they don't have the mega bucks.
• I do think the best drivers put for the best effort every week. With the big sponsors leaving the sport, they have to do their best every week to keep the sponsors they have. The car has a bad aero package right now so the boring races really don't have anything to do with the drivers.
• Just like us, they are human, so I don't believe they put forth their best effort every week. If they aren't confident in their car/team, feeling sick, or distracted by contract talks it may be hard to give 100 percent.
• On the most part I think drivers put forth their best possible effort every week to get a win. I sometimes think some drivers who are having a difficult race give up and just run their laps. I am not talking about those who had to go to the garage to have their car worked on because of a wreck or mechanical issues. Many of them come back and try to make up positions if possible.
• These guys are so full of competition I don't ever see them doing anything but 110 percent every time they get in the car.
• I'd like to think the drivers do give their all each week, but the cynic in me is not so sure. When the 48 drives in the back of the pack at 'Dega it makes my blood boil. That's playing it way too safe for me, and I lose a lot of respect for a driver when they do something like that.
• Quite simply, if a driver isn't giving 100 percent each week, he wouldn't have a job. These drivers know that every single point counts during the season, and it is worth giving 100 percent to get one more spot. Ask Carl Edwards. Or Kyle Busch.
Grade the Cup race at Richmond:
57.8 percent called it Good
28.4 percent called it Great
10.4 percent called it Fair
3.5 percent called it Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• I'm so glad the race went the distance and NASCAR stayed with it. I don't think you could have scripted a better race
• I was at the race. Despite the delayed start, brief intermission, and lack of wrecks the race had everything! There was passing, there were a few leaders, there was drama, and there was three-wide on more than one occasion ... which may or may not have made it to everyone's TV screen via the telecast.
• As much as I hate the Chase, this made it worth watching this year.
• Same as most every other race this year: single file, not much passing, no beating and banging. BORING!!!!! I really expected more from this race in terms of action, especially considering you had Ky Busch and Cousin Carl fighting for Chase spots. Unfortunately, they were quiet and mild as could be.
• That race proved that you don't need wrecks to have an exciting race. With different pit strategies, lots of passing and a driver that raced his heart out to make the Chase it never got boring. I stayed up to watch the checkered flag and wasn't even tired even at 1:30 am because the race was so good.
• Drama, good racing, strategy and last lap edge-of-your-seat wild card race made for a great race.
• Honestly, if not for the drama of the wild card deal, the race itself was a snoozer. I am happy that NASCAR let it go the whole distance. I was worried they would call it at halfway.
• I admit that I dozed on and off because of the rain delays, but the action was awesome. Bowyer getting spun out and then winning thanks to our old friend JPM, and watching Gordon and the 24 team battle to get in the Chase was drama at it's best. NASCAR must be happy — this is what they wanted the Chase format to do.
• We were cold and wet, but we stuck it out until the end. Thank goodness we did, that was just so cool to watch. We went to Richmond to see Gordon make the Chase and that he did in style.
The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at email@example.com.
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Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
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