The Frontstretch: Drinking The NASCAR Kool-Aid On A New Championship Scenario by Mike Neff -- Wednesday January 29, 2014

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Drinking The NASCAR Kool-Aid On A New Championship Scenario

Mike Neff · Wednesday January 29, 2014


NASCAR floated a trial balloon over the last couple of weeks about possibly changing the Chase format so that the final race of the season will be a “winner-take-all” race amongst four drivers at Homestead. It seemed like most fans were against the idea based on the feedback to articles on both social media and the Internet. Surprisingly, the same cannot be said for the folks on the NASCAR teams who have been parading in front of the assembled masses at the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway this week.

Mike Helton and Brian France are reportedly championing a new points system to be announced this week. But will the intended changes create more enthusiasm within NASCAR’s fan base?

To a man, the drivers, owners and crew chiefs, over the first two days of the tour, have been completely supportive of the new format. They all maintain that we have to add excitement for the fans and change things up so the sport doesn’t get stale. Apparently, none of them are concerned about the legitimacy of a champion who is crowned by finishing the best out of four drivers in one race.

That’s unfortunately, because a whole lot of other people are. Auto racing is not a stick and ball sport, but the folks in NASCAR continually try and make it into one. With the support of their constituents, they are going to be taking a big step in that direction when the new Chase format is announced, most likely on Thursday. The sport is going to go from crowning a champion based on performance over a lengthy regular season, to crowning one in a ten-race playoff, to now crowning it based on the results of a single race between four drivers out of a 43-car field.

The argument that is always easiest to use in support of new and different title-winning scenarios is that all of the drivers know what the requirements and rules are going into the season. If that is going to be the case in 2014, well, we’re going to see some interesting strategies and different attempts unfold. They’ll be directed at winning races and positioning drivers to be in the top four in points heading into the last race of the season. But that doesn’t mean these new strategies will lead to excitement, or an extended connection from fans to a sport whose “playoff system” has been one of its most criticized ideas since being brought into existence back in 2004.

The curious point will be, if Jimmie Johnson wins it again, what will they try next to keep him out of the record books. Just don’t buy that “change for the sake of change,” whatever the intent is the answer to NASCAR’s problems.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Michael in SoCal
01/29/2014 11:00 AM

It’s much easier and cheaper to tweak the Championship format (yet again) as a means to instill excitement into the schedule than to tear down a number of the Dull D cookie cutter race tracks built in the 1990s boom days of Nascar and replace them with shorter, more challenging, more entertaining race tracks.

01/29/2014 11:13 AM

Totally agree with you Mike. I didn’t really understand the changes until I read your article today. My two cents – Get rid of the chase entirely and go back to the way it used to be.

Wayne T. Morgan
01/29/2014 07:02 PM

No Thanks on drinking the “Kool Aid” as I don’t need the added sugar NA$CAR feeds us.

01/29/2014 07:16 PM

NASCAR doesn’t miss an opportunity to hurt their credibility. Now, they bring us a one-race Champion.

Instead, why don’t they just run the 36 races and then have a pie eating contest to decide who’s Champ?

Bill B
01/29/2014 08:43 PM

And the line between Sport and Entertainment takes another leap toward the E. A few more tweaks and we may have ourselves a reality television show.


01/30/2014 12:17 AM

The sanctioning body is just applying the way they conduct races to the way they crown their champ.

Previously the Chase was just a competition caution in the Championship race designed to bunch the field.

Now they have turned it into the GWC championship.

The fact it has to be frequently changed shows there is something seriously wrong with the “product”

Is it interesting no one talks about the races anymore-it’s all this contrived noise?

01/30/2014 01:21 AM

I would think these teams and drivers are rich enough to afford a little push back for the sake of sanity. Apparently I am mistaken. If ever was a time for all to stand up and tell the Emperor Brian that he seems insane, now would be the time, sadly I was mistaken. Are these rich drivers out of touch too? The whole thing is insane. Brain I think needs race teams much more than they need him. Using one of Nascars favorite sayings..back at em!

01/30/2014 07:52 AM

All I know is that this is the first year in at least the last ten where we’ve not bought season tickets at Texas Motor Speedway. Thanks for all of the entertainment, Brian……idiot.

01/30/2014 09:03 AM

Just in: Carl Edwards has been suspended for 36 races for “ Actions Detrimental to Brian France”. He must also complete NA$CARs Road to Being A Yes Man Program!

01/30/2014 01:43 PM

I don’t like multiple point resets and a winner take all finale. However, I’ll give it a chance for a year. I have a feeling that the there will be no more mister nice guy at the end of races. It will now be totally worth it in the first 26 to dump a guy for a win. If you like Bristol like fighting, this will create it.

01/30/2014 07:34 PM

Good one 88.

bud sudz
01/30/2014 10:32 PM

Dumbest rule change since 1991: When the pits opened, the blue flag waved to permit the odd-numbered cars to pit first. The second lap, the even-numbered cars (based on starting position) would then be able to pit. The blue-sticker cars lined up on the inside, the orange-sticker cars on the outside, and lapped cars to the rear on all restarts.
At least that was done in the name of safety!

02/01/2014 05:02 AM

Is this convuleted mess of a gimmick simpler to understand or a champion decided by who earns the most points over 36 races? Use your brain cells to fix the insomnia inducing racing, NASCAR brass, instead of further breaking the points system to where its a joke in the motorsport world, just like you are fast becoming since Brian France took over.


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