NASCAR has granted Tony Stewart an opportunity to still have a chance to make the chase with a win this season despite missing three races.
More importantly he missed three attempts to qualify. At the beginning of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season the big news from the sanctioning body was the fact that a new emphasis was placed on wins. In the past drivers that were already in the chase in points tended to protect their points during late season races.
The way the drivers did this was to drive a race not to win it but to not screw things up and lose points. This led to some pretty boring races where some of the sport’s most famous names drove around the track during late season, and chase races, like they were out for a Sunday drive. The new points system changed all of that. But has NASCAR stirred the pot by skipping over another important piece of the points system?
The new points system indicated that in order to be eligible for the chase a driver needed to make the attempt to qualify for each of the races on the 26 race regular season schedule.
That means a driver had to just show up and attempt to qualify for each of the races prior to the start of the chase. They didn’t have to actually make the race… they just had to show up for qualifying. But with many rules in NASCAR there’s a grey area.
The other part of the new rule about qualifying for the chase was a possible medical exemption. If a driver missed a chance to qualify for a race because they were sick then they could apply for a waiver. It’s just like school. If you miss a day then bring in a note from your doctor. The point for the new qualifying rules was to ensure that part time teams didn’t make the chase in case they won a fluke race.
In my opinion, it was a way to make sure that only full time teams were eligible for the chase. It forced many smaller teams to actually attempt to make it for every race. A medical waiver is also a way that NASCAR can make sure all of their star drivers are eligible. NASCAR has granted Tony Stewart and Stewart Hass racing the waiver. If Stewart wins one of the last two races in the regular season then he’s officially in the chase.
Can You Blame Them?
You can’t really blame NASCAR for making the decision to let Stewart have the waiver. After all he probably falls into the medical exemption if you take mental health into consideration. After all Stewart’s dealing with the death of a person, Kevin Ward Jr., who was struck by a car he was driving.
What I now question is the vagueness of the rule. If it was a driver from a lesser known team running towards the middle or back of the pack every week would the waiver have been granted? Or was it just because it was one of the biggest names in the sport?
Regardless, the other NASCAR drivers support Stewart and the decision to grant the waiver. It’s a given that Tony Stewart wants to put the death of Ward behind him if at all possible. And that’s probably not possible. Now it looks as if NASCAR does as well.