I know, I know. It's an apples and oranges type question, but that's not where I'm going
As the cutoff for the Chase grows nearer and nearer, the NASCAR pundits are starting to weigh in with their opinions on who will win the Sprint Cup Championship. Most seem to agree that it's a two man race between Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, and hence the title question- sort of. Which champion is better for NASCAR and the state of the sport?
Jimmie Johnson has won a history tying three straight championships and is gunning for a fourth. There is no doubt that he and Chad Knaus save their best stuff for the Chase (well, except for Homestead in 2005 when Chad wouldn't listen to Jimmie; otherwise, Jimmie would be going for five straight this year). A fourth straight championship would almost certainly guarantee Jimmie and Chad entry into the Hall of Fame when the time comes, but do the fans really want to see the #48 team on the championship stage yet again?
Tony Stewart has made the owner/driver combo look like child's play this year. Tony came out of the gates at Daytona in February ready to run. In a season where most pundits predicted that he would struggle to even win a race, let alone contend for the Chase, Tony has won three points races plus the All-Star race and currently sits atop the points chart. Simply starting the Michigan race on Sunday guarantees his berth in the Chase. Should Tony win the Championship come November, he would be the first owner/driver to do so since Alan Kulwicki. Yes, there are a myriad of differences between what Tony has accomplished this year and what Kulwicki accomplished, and Tony will be the first to point that out. However, you can bet that you will not hear mention of that from the sportswriters come November if Tony wins. The headlines will simply read "Stewart Becomes First Owner/Driver To Win Championship Since Kulwicki."
So which champion would be better for the sport of NASCAR, Jimmie or Tony? One thing is for certain. It looks like we might finally get the exciting Chase that was promised when the 10 race playoff was put into place in 2004.