BLOG-View from the Stands (10/10/2013)
by Eric Arnold, Knoxville Raceway Blogger & Twitter Commentator
The World of Outlaws season is coming to a close now with only 3 nights of racing left. Daryn Pittman has essentially wrapped up the title. Mathematically Donny Schatz is still alive, but unless he wins the last 3 races and Pittman has a couple of 20th place finishes, it’s over. Schatz has won 21 features and Pittman has won 8. This has stirred up some controversy about the WoO point system, but I feel the point system is fine as is. The season long battle is just that. It should reward consistency over the long haul of 70 plus nights of racing. Pittman has not won a feature event since July 23 at Rolling Wheels. That is nearly 3 months and 22 races ago. Ironically the WoO goes back to Rolling Wheels this Saturday night before the season ends at Charlotte.
The discussion on the points system is mainly about the bonus points for qualifying. Everyone seems to look at that as the difference between Schatz and Pittman this year, and it’s not. To me the number I look at (being the numbers geek that I am) is how many times each driver finished 18th or worse. That number is Pittman with 1 and Schatz with 5. Pittman with only one finish of 18th or worse in 70 races… HELLO! On June 7, Pittman finished 22nd at Burlington’s 34 Raceway after he was in an accident with Jason Johnson. That is the only blemish on their season. The KKR team deserves a lot of credit for keeping an extremely reliable and fast car on the track, and Pittman deserves a lot of credit for driving it up front. Not once have they had a self-inflicted mistake, and when you can do that over an entire season, you deserve to win the championship.
Schatz hurt his championship chances in the first 10 features of the season. His average finish was 10.5 while Pittman’s was 5.3 in that time frame from Florida to Chico. Schatz had 1 win but also had a 22nd, 23rd, 13th, and 19th in that stretch. You toss aside those first ten races, and Schatz probably wins the championship. That makes it even more impressive for the 9 team to accomplish what they did with Pittman and KKR being fast from the start with a new combination.
Should there be points for qualifying? Yes I think rewarding qualifying is big deal and prevents teams from being tempted to sandbag to start on the front row of a heat race to get into the dash. The quick qualifier gets 5 points and it goes down one point per position, 4, 3, 2, 1. Historically, qualifying has not been one of Schatz’ strong suits. He typically sets quick time 2 or 3 times a year is all. But winning a race is also rewarded as there is 4 points difference between first and second in the feature and a two point drop in every position after that. Pittman and Schatz both have 43 top five’s and Schatz has 57 top ten’s compared to Pittman’s 56, which is incredible to be in the top ten 80% of the time. Schatz was right at 80% the past two years with the WoO, and Jason Meyers beat him with an 86% effort in 2011.
I think the WoO point system is fine. It rewards wins, consistency, and hurts the team that doesn’t finish races. What else do you need in a points system?
Now I hope I didn’t just jinx DP and KKR#9.
How about Fred Rahmer winning the Williams Grove National Open!!! It’s a fairy tale ending for arguably the most successful driver in the history of the Pennsylvania area. To announce that he was planning to retire, and then win the race that had eluded him for 27 years in his last attempt, wow. It’s a special moment in sprint car racing history. Congratulations to Rahmer, and the Rob Sell team on winning one of sprint car racing’s “major” events.
*Eric can be contacted at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @_EricArnold.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Knoxville Raceway.