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NASCAR Bacon Safe For Now

CHARLOTTE NC (September 16, 2013) – Matt Kenseth saved NASCAR’s bacon – at least for now.

Kenseth put a cap on one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of NASCAR when he won Sunday’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. The victory, Kenseth’s sixth of the season, kept him atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase For The Championship by eight points over Sunday’s runner-up finisher Kyle Busch.

Kenseth temporarily turned down the flame on NASCAR’s griddle because his winning meant Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman didn’t.

Logano, Bowyer, Gordon and Newman are all wearing the scarlet letter ‘N’ branded on them by various NASCAR decrees over the past week. Also during that time, today’s court of public opinion – Twitter and Facebook – have been on fire voicing its thoughts in record numbers on multiple credibility issues in the sport.

If you thought ‘Chasegate’ and all the crazy actions/decrees that came out of last week’s race at Richmond are going away any time soon, think again – we’ve got nine more weeks of this folks.

Seriously, what if Logano, Bowyer, Gordon or Newman wins one – or more – of the remaining Chase races?

What if one of them actually wins the Chase?

The public opinion burner will be on high and the bacon will be sizzling with each win.

It will burn if one of them wins the championship.

Crispy.

It could happen.

Gordon – who was added to the Chase by NASCAR decree – finished sixth at Chicago last evening. No worries about him being 100 percent. This could be his last great chance at a title. He’s definitely got a shot at the big prize.

Newman – also a NASCAR Chase appointee – is hanging around too, 10th at Chicago last night.

Bowyer – who many howl shouldn’t be in the Chase because of his intentional spin at Richmond – finished ninth last night. He had a shot late in last year’s Chase and could be there again this year.

Logano – NASCAR’s Roger Penske ‘no look’ pass entry in the Chase – had his championship hopes significantly diminished after a blown engine relegated him to a 37th-place finish at Chicago. Still, he could win a Chase race or two.

Bottom line – if one of these four wins a race – or worse – is standing on the stage accepting the championship trophy at the conclusion of the final race at Homestead, all the burners will be on high.

If that happens, break out the fire extinguishers.

Missing In Action?

Remember last winter when there was a big wind out of Daytona about a new, game-changing track-drying system NASCAR had developed – the ‘Air Titan?’

Boasting the new system would cut track-drying times by more than 50 percent in some instances, the Air Titan was demonstrated at Daytona and on hand for the 500 this year.

Has anybody seen it since?

As reported here earlier this year, NASCAR does not provide the device to tracks – not even those owned by NASCAR parent company International Speedway Corporation (ISC) – without charging a fee.

The policy is no dough, no blow regardless of who you are.

It wasn’t used at Chicagoland this weekend.

If everyone is giving ‘100 percent’ here, the Air Titan would have been on hand all season regardless of facility or cost. If this technology is so much more superior, then why not provide it?

For the betterment of the sport – you know, the fans.

That’s worth a couple of million a year to cart it around from track to track and deploy it, right? The PR value of you doing it would pay for the dang thing.

The fact that the Air Titan was not on hand for the first round of the ‘playoffs’ only makes this worse. Shouldn’t this be at each track in the Chase?

Would it have shortened last night’s five-hour delay to four maybe?

We’ll never know.

C’mon guys – 100 percent, right?

Last Call –

After having a 15-year career as a NASCAR spotter, I got a big chuckle that a bunch of the fallout from Richmond was heaped on the spotters.

It used to be the standard line from a driver after a crash was “my spotter didn’t tell me.”

Now NASCAR is jumping in and seems to be saying, “my spotter told me too much.”

Laugh out loud.

The end result is NASCAR is saying no more deals on the spotter’s stand – a practice they have overtly condoned/ignored since spotters became a competition tool in the 1950’s.

Now, the spotters will be more scrutinized. They will only be allowed two radios, (both analog, no more digital radios with frequencies unavailable for NASCAR monitoring) and no cell phones (same reason.)

Also – NASCAR will install a camera on each spotter’s stand to now monitor their activities.

Spotters beware – Big Brother is watching.

Shoulda known this whole mess was the spotter’s fault.

Too Funny.

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John Close covered his first NASCAR race in 1986 at Bristol. Since then, Close – a former Associated Press newspaper sports editor – has written countless articles for numerous motorsports magazines, trade publications and Internet sites.

His Close Calls column appears each week on www.CloseFinishes.com, www.MotorsportsAmerica.com and www.RacingNation.com.

Close has also authored two books – Tony Stewart – From Indy Phenom To NASCAR Superstar and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – From Desert Dust To Superspeedways.

Close is a weekly guest every Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern on Tradin’ Paint on NASCAR SIRIUS Channel 90.

You can follow John Close on Twitter @CloseFinishes and on Facebook at John Close.

Be sure to visit John’s website – www.closefinishes.com