Craig Murto: Should Kyle Busch make the chase?


With his win in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch has won three consecutive Sprint Cup races, four of the last five, and is only 23 points away from cracking the top 30.

That will put Busch in The Chase, despite missing the first 11 races of the season due to injuries suffered at Daytona in an Xfinity Series race. NASCAR, which owns the Daytona facility, gave Busch a waiver on the requirement that he try to qualify for all 26 races leading to The Chase. They cited his injuries as their fault since he hit a section of wall not equipped with SAFER barrier.

Whether Busch should have been given the waiver has been highly debated. Many feel that giving waivers diminishes The Chase.

But nobody really expected that in a 26-race “regular” season, Busch could make up enough points to crack the top 30 after missing 11 events, as well as win a race to earn his spot.

That’s exactly what appears to be happening. And if it does, it should.

Kyle Busch’s comeback has been nothing short of remarkable. When he earns his way into The Chase, he will deserve it. And if he actually continues on this hot streak and somehow wins the Sprint Cup title, he will have earned that, too.

When Busch came back he was given an impossible task, one that doesn’t seem that impossible now that he appears to be only one race away from making The Chase. This is not just a great motorsports story, this is a great story in all of sports, one that should be celebrated.

Should Kyle Busch be allowed in The Chase? And if he wins the Sprint Cup title, all the better. Kyle Busch proved himself a champion already.

NBC Sports has been attempting to prove itself as a motorsports broadcaster. It carries F1, IndyCar, and now the Sprint Cup Series.

The on-air talent NBC presents to viewers is topnotch. You can watch a Sprint Cup race and actually learn something, without the announcers making you feel like you’re a redneck for watching.

But as much as I’d like to give NBC an A for their efforts, they only deserve a B, and in some cases a C.

First of all, programmers at NBC may have forced races to change their schedules to fit the network’s requirements. That hurt at-the-track attendance. Sunday’s Brickyard 400 is one example; the stands were practically empty. The race used to run on Saturday, which gave paying spectators all day Sunday to get home.

Another good example was the IndyCar race at Fontana, Calif., earlier this year. It was probably the best IndyCar race ever run, and the stands were empty. Why? Some reported it was because NBC wanted the race to run earlier in the day local time, so it could be prime time on East Coast TV. Unfortunately that meant 90-degree heat and no shade in Southern California, which kept spectators away.

But it’s not just the broadcast times that hurt the network; they’ve obviously hired people who either don’t understand racing, don’t respect it, or both, to man the controls during their broadcasts.

There are between 20 and 43 race teams on the track, depending what race you’re watching. The race doesn’t end when the leader takes the checkered flag; the race ends when all the cars left on the track take the checkered.

The Brickyard 400 ended with a green-white-checkered finish. So you can bet that behind the Kyle Busch/Joey Logano battle, there were incredible battles heading to the line for 10th, 15th, 20th or 30th.

But we never saw them. As soon as Busch won the race, the camera panned up to show us the flag man waving the checkered. Then we got to see the crew celebrating. We saw nothing more of the race, despite the fact that there were two- and three-wide battles coming to the line.

Other networks were guilty of this sin in the past, but have gotten much better. They now try to show the cars racing to the line at the end of the race. You do get to see every car in the points finish an F1 race.

Showing the field finish a race demonstrates an understanding and respect of the sport. It’s a shame that after such a wonderful broadcast, NBC resorted to an amateurish, tired old cliché. Hopefully they fix it in the future. The viewers who spend hours watching the race on their network deserve more respect.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.

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