What is the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

March 29, 2010 by  
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The Chase for the Sprint Cup was introduced to NASCAR to increase the competition mid-season, as well as to generate greater fan interest and higher television ratings. Certain changes have been made to the format since its inception in 2004, but The Chase continues to add drama to the NASCAR season.

The Chase was introduced in 2004 after Matt Kenseth won the Winston Cup in 2003 by such a large lead that much of the season lost its excitement, reducing ticket sales and TV ratings. Matt Kenseth had won only a single race all season, however, due to the point system and his consistent placing throughout the season, Matt Kenseth won. Because of his large point lead it was also a forgone conclusion, killing any possibility of a tight finish. On the other hand, Ryan Newman took first place in 8 races that season, but only finished in sixth place. This point system had proved more than once to be a dampener for spectators, who would rather switch the channel to watch the NFL. Thus the Chase for the Sprint Cup was introduced.

So how does the Chase for the Sprint Cup work? Once 26 races in the season have taken place, 12 drivers with the top points then qualify for The Chase. At this point the 12 NASCAR drivers’ points are adjusted to start with 5 000 points, along with an extra 10 points for each win the driver had during the season so far. These drivers will continue to compete for the last 10 races of the season. All 43 of the season’s drivers will still compete for wins and prize money under the standard point system. Drivers who win receive 190 points. Any competing driver who leads a lap in the course of the race will be awarded 5 bonus points. Also, 5 bonus points are given to the driver who leads for the most laps. At the end of the season’s final 10 races, the NASCAR driver with the top point total is named champion of the Sprint Cup Series. This Chase for the Sprint Cup format almost certainly results in a points’ battle right until the last race of the season, adding to the thrill of the sport.

Jeff Gordon

February 9, 2009 by  
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On August the 4th, 1971, Jeffery Michael Gordon was born in Vallejo, California, but he was raised in Pittsboro, Indiana, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jeff Gordon is an American race car driver who has claimed the NASCAR Winston Cup four times and is the driver of the #24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. Jeff is also co-owner of the #48 Lowe’s sponsored team, driven by the 2006 NEXTEL Cup series champion, Jimmie Johnson.

Jeff Gordon decided from a young age that he wanted to drive and his family fully supported him and his endeavors. They even went to the point of moving to Pittsboro, Indiana, where provisions are made for young drivers who want to race. Here Gordon was successful, winning three short-track races as well as being awarded with the USAC Midget Car Racing Rookie of the Year before the age of 18 years. Then in 1991,at the age of 20, Jeff was moved up to the USAC Silver Crown category becoming the youngest driver to win it.

Gordon had two excellent years with NASCAR Busch Series in 1991 and 1992 where he captured eleven poles in one season. In 1993, he had a full season in Winston Cup for Hendrick Motorsports, winning the Twin 125 Daytona 500 qualifying race, receiving the Rookie of the Year award and being placed 14th in points. Many critics questioned Gordon’s ability to participate in races of this caliber at such a young age, but in 1994, the critics were silenced when won the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the Coca Cola 600, one of the most gruelling and demanding races. At the age of 24 he won one of his four NASCAR Winston Cup Championships. There are only two other drivers with more than four Cup titles. He was also the only NASCAR driver to have four Brickyard 400 victories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and one of five drivers to have four wins at the historic track.

NASCAR regards Jeff Gordon as one of its best drivers, especially with all that he has achieved at such a young age. At the age of thirty-five Gordon has collected 75 Nextel Cup victories, which is just one less of Dale Earnhardt Jnr‘s 76 wins and is ranked seventh on the all-time list.

Ryan Newman

February 9, 2009 by  
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Ryan Joseph Newman was born in South Bend, Indiana on December 8, 1977 and is currently a driver for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Newman and the late Alan Kulwicki are one of the few drivers who attained a college degree before racing for NASCAR. Ryan Newman graduated with a B.S. in vehicle structure engineering and Kulwicki with a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University in 2001.

Ryan Newman has had a fantastic career in motor sports. Amongst his awards have been the following USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year (1996), USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series Champion (1999), Winston Cup Rookie of the Year (2002), Sprint All-Star Race XVIII winner, 2003 Driver of the Year, and winner of the 2008 Daytona 500. As of the end of 2009, Ryan Newman’s stats were looking impressive: 13 wins and 121 top ten finishes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series; 7 wins with 27 top tens in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; and 1 win, plus 3 top tens in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Between 2003 and 2006 Newman was invited specifically to the International Race of Champions three times and came second to Matt Kenseth in 2004.

Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie run the Ryan Newman Foundation. The foundation has no association to racing but focuses primarily on unwanted dogs and cats in pounds and shelters ensuring that they receive adequate care. Newman also helped with the funding of the Catawba Country, North Carolina Humane Society shelter, which was constructed in his home county. Ryan Newman also enjoys spending time working on vintage cars, particularly the 1950’s Chrysler and apart from that enjoys fishing.

Bill Elliott

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born in 1955 in Dawsonville, Georgia, William Clyde ‘Bill’ Elliott is one of the most distinguished drivers in Winston Cup history. In his early days he started by helping out at his father’s shop which sold parts for racecars. His father, George Elliott, was an avid racing fan and he often took his sons along to work where they would help fix up different cars. Bill’s two brothers, Ernie and Dan, also did some racing in their youths, but it was young Bill who had the biggest passion for the sport – a passion which his father encouraged after Bill started converting a road car into a race car. According to George, it was his way of keeping Bill off the back roads of racing. He bought his son a 1963 Ford Fairlane and before long, Bill was whizzing around the racetrack.

Bill Elliott started racing regularly in 1974 when he took to the Dixie Speedway in Georgia. When he started winning, with his father’s support, Bill’s career reached new heights and just two years later, Elliott made his first Winston Cup start at Rockingham. His first Winston Cup win came in November 1983 at Riverside and in 1985, he clocked up eleven wins and 11 poles. He took the chequered flag at the Winston Million and his success led to him being garnered with several nicknames such as ‘Million Dollar Bill’ and ‘Wild Bill’. He also became the first NASCAR driver to be featured on the cover of Sport Illustrated – an accomplishment which boosted his career even further. Amazingly enough, even though Elliott had enjoyed numerous successes by this stage in his career, he had not won the Winston Cup Championship. He eventually accomplished this feat in 1988.

With a career going back to 1975, by March 2010, Elliott had clocked up 810 NASCAR starts and 44 wins. He had won the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series, placed in the Top Five 175 times, and 320 times in the Top Ten with a total recorded winnings exceeding US$37million. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on 15 August 2007. On Memorial Day in 2009, Bill Elliott became the 7th member of the so-called “800 Club” by taking his 800th career Sprint Cup start at the Lowes Motor Speedway. He was also the first NASCAR Driver to be featured in a video game. No doubt his reputation as a unpretentious and friendly person had endeared him to thousands of fans and, when combined with his brilliant racing ability, will continue to hold him in good stead as he continues onward with his racing career.

Morgan McClure Motorsports

February 9, 2009 by  
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In 1983 Morgan McClure Motorsports, or MMM, was formed by Larry McClure and his business partner Tim Morgan. They had purchased a racing car from G.C. Spencer, a NASCAR racing veteran, and recruited the brothers Ed, Teddy and Jerry McClure later in the same year.

Morgan McClure Motorsports entered into their first NASCAR Winston Cup race at the then Alabama International Motor Speedway, now known as Talladega Super Speedway, in 1983. The No. 4 MMM Chevrolet that was sponsored by Oldsmobile, was driven by Connie Slayter. Unfortunately, the car blew its engine, and the team had to settle for 40th place.

MMM’s familiar yellow No. 4 Oldsmobile was unloaded in June 1986, as they had secured a sponsorship from Kodak. This would be the beginning of an 18 year relationship between Kodak and MMM, considered one of the longest sponsorships in the sport. In July 1988, Wilson and MMM both had their career best finish at the Pepsi 400, which was held at the Daytona International Speedway. Wilson came in second, after leading the race for 19 laps.

The 1990s also proved to be successful for the team. In 1990 the made the important decision to recruit Ernie Irvan to drive their No. 4 car. In the very first race that he drove for the team, Irvan started from a 30th spot and moved his way up to finish third. Another big decision that was made that year was to go over to Chevrolet, and gain more support from the vehicle manufacturer. No matter what, there just was no stopping Ernie Irvan. In 1991 he won the Great American Race held at the Daytona 500, won the Budweiser held in Watkins Glen and made the partnership between MMM and himself a force to be reckoned with.

Through the following years, Morgan McClure Motorsports have changed drivers, and strategies, and each time they have proved themselves to be even better than before. MMM’s twelve year partnership with Chevrolet came to an end in 2003 and it celebrated its 20th year anniversary. The success and growth had started with a dream shared by two men, and three employees to become one of the most popular and well knows companies on the track today.

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