Finale could use a little Miami Vice

November 13, 2007 7:38 AM
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ROBERTS Top 5
AT MIAMI
1. #1 Martin Truex 12-1
2. #17 Matt Kenseth 10-1
3. #16 Greg Bifle 18-1
4. #5 Kyle Busch 12-1
5. #2 Kurt Busch 14-1

Here we are at the end of the NASCAR season after ten months of stock car racing. I can’t imagine how the drivers or the traveling teams feel at this point, but I for one am worn out. I feel like I have been in a 700 mile race with only two laps remaining.

However, I’ll be missing the races within two weeks, eagerly anticipating Daytona’s early January test times.

I should be awaiting this Miami race with the anticipation of the Super Bowl, Game 7 of the World Series, or the World Cup Final. But I don’t.

So what does that say about the Chase format, Miami, Chevy domination, or teammates battling for the title when someone like me, who is an above average follower of the sport, isn’t getting psyched for Sunday’s season finale?

Well, it’s funny that I pose the question because I have a few answers to why I’m not as revved up as I should be.

The Chase: It’s a great idea on paper and I believe the media who don’t regularly follow NASCAR like the idea; but the everyday fan has had enough.

The media likes it because they can relate to NASCAR. These are the reporters who wonder every year why NASCAR’s biggest race of the season starts the year off. The Chase makes sense to them.

For the fan, they’re not drawn by the fact the team who worked the hardest all season can have their title taken away because someone was better over the last 10 races. True, that’s how they do it in all the other sports, but NASCAR isn’t every other sport; remember, they run their best race at the beginning of the season and plenty of people like it just the way it’s always been.

Go back to the way it’s always been and put it on the ledgers as a tried event with simpler just being better.

Homestead-Miami: There’s nothing against Homestead or Miami, but this is the race NASCAR caps its season? Yeah, it makes sense because there is so much NASCAR history intertwined throughout with Miami.

For instance, my greatest auto-racing memory from Miami was a Crockett and Tubbs car chase in a Miami Vice episode. When I think of Miami, it’s about South Beach, girls in microscopic bikinis, Cuban sandwiches, and Mojito’s. NASCAR comes last on the list of non-supported events by Miami fans of which includes the Dolphins, Hurricanes, Heat, Marlins, and Jai Lai.

The solution? Make the final race of the season at a place that will have some energy. Daytona would definitely have some spice — beginning and ending the year at the birth place of stock car racing? Yes, that definitely has some appeal. How about Las Vegas? A Saturday night race on national TV with a celebrity invite list that would beat courtside at a Lakers game? Yes, that has the glitz and flair you need in a meaningful championship event. I can guarantee that both venues would be sold out weeks before the event dropped the Green flag.

Now, stuff that matters

Enough of the conjecture, lets get to some info that may actually assist in your final week of auto race wagering. The Homestead-Miami Speedway can be classed into the 1.5 mile high banked category along with Las Vegas, Charlotte, Texas, and Atlanta. You can also group the Miami track with those simply because they’ll be using the Car of Yesterday which they have on all of those tracks. Unlike the Speedway Motor Sports tracks that are tri-ovaled, Miami is more like a paper clip shape with two long equal drag racing straights that run right into 20 degrees of banking in the turns.

Since three of the last five races have come at Texas, Charlotte, and Atlanta, there will be plenty of data to analyze. Or if you don’t want to go through anything, all you basically have to do is bet Jimmie Johnson, that’s all!

Johnson won two of those three races and has won the last four races in a row, two of them in the Car of Tomorrow and two of them in the Old Car. Apparently it doesn’t matter which car Johnson goes with, he’s just better. His Old Car may actually have more of an edge on the competition than the COT.

If you would have blindly bet $100 on Jimmie Johnson for each race at an average price of 5 to 1 all season long you would be up $3,100 with one race to go. Who needs to handicap and decipher practice times and past history? If you just bet the 48, you get paid!

Johnson has won 11 races and has a comfortable 86-point lead over Gordon. All Johnson has to do is finish eighteenth or better and regardless of what Gordon does, Johnson will win his second consecutive Nextel Cup title. Meanwhile on the flip side, Jeff Gordon has now been beat two of the last four seasons out of a championship that would have been his under the old system. If NASCAR had left things alone and not try to conform to what other sports do, Gordon would be getting his sixth Cup title this year.

If you’re looking to play a few drivers that could beat Johnson this week, Greg Biffle might be the first one to look at. Biffle has won the last three Miami races and has done so in impressive fashion. The parallels between Biffle’s 2006 and 2007 season in Miami are very similar. In both years Biffle had a disappointing season with only one win and struggled on 1.5 mile high banked tracks after dominating in the past. Just like this year, he isn’t considered one of the favorites to win and just like last year the probable best car, Jimmie Johnson, may just lay back and try to finish well to win a Championship.

We’ll go with a safe pick in Martin Truex Jr. not because he finished second in the Miami race last season, but because of how well he ran at Texas three weeks ago. He’s likely to bring the same chassis and why not, because it’ll be the last time they can use it as we say farewell to the "Car of Unsafe Yesterday."