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September 22, 2014

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No thanks, Jimmie Johnson! Keep Talladega in the Chase

According to a story in The New York Times, Jimmie Johnson made the rounds of the Manhattan television studios last week, which included an appearance on the special “No Restrictor Plate.” While being interviewed by Kyle Petty, Johnson mentioned that he would like to see the fall Talladega race removed from the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

What?!

Is he kidding?!

Apparently he isn’t.

And he’s probably not the only driver that would like to see such a travesty perpetuated on NASCAR fans.

Talladega is the wild card in the 10-race playoffs. It’s the race that all drivers worry about, whether they are in the Chase or not. One false move by any driver during the close-quarters racing can result in a dreaded big wreck that can take out half the field. So it’s understandable that drivers are leery about racing at the 2.66-mile tri-oval course.

But the suspense that Talladega creates is a crucial component in bringing drama to the Chase. That fall race has the potential to jumble the points standings and alter the Chase landscape for the remaining events. Surviving Talladega is no small feat, and that challenge helps to determine which team has the mettle to earn the championship.

Naturally, Johnson would rather not have to contend with the variables that Talladega throws into the mix, but that track hasn’t destroyed his chances of winning the Cup for the last five consecutive years. While the odds of ending the day behind the wrecker is probably higher at the Alabama track, a bad day can happen at any race. Just ask Denny Hamlin how his day went at Homestead.

Johnson and the other Chase contenders are in Las Vegas this week for several days of festivities before Friday’s Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony at the Wynn. On Thursday the drivers will be piloting their cars for a victory lap on the Las Vegas Strip and coverage of Friday’s awards ceremony will be broadcast on the Speed Channel at 6 p.m. local time. Speed is also offering coverage of the NASCAR Championship Week today and Thursday on NASCAR Race Hub at 4 p.m.

In other Las Vegas racing news, Las Vegas Motor Speedway announced this week that Lowe’s has signed on as the sponsor for the Sprint Cup event on March 6. The Kobalt Tools 400 will be the 14th NASCAR Sprint Cup event at LVMS.

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