The Frontstretch: No Bull: When Did NASCAR Institute Elimination into the Chase? by Nick Bromberg -- Tuesday October 19, 2010

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No Bull: When Did NASCAR Institute Elimination into the Chase?

Nick Bromberg · Tuesday October 19, 2010


Is it me, or did Brian France and Mike Helton slip in the proposed elimination format for the 2011 Chase this year? Or is it already 2011 and Jimmie Johnson is going for his sixth straight Sprint Cup title?

Yes, the Chase for the Cup was the closest it has ever been after the third race of the Chase at Kansas, and yes, I’m partially to blame for hyping up how close said Chase was at that point in time. Johnson took the lead from Denny Hamlin, but Hamlin was only eight points back. Tony Stewart was 127 points behind in 10th place, and Matt Kenseth was 149 points back in 11th. And not to beat a dead horse, but…Clint Bowyer was 252 points out, yet would have only trailed Johnson by 102 if the penalty hadn’t happened.

With Johnson’s continued near perfection, is Denny Hamlin one of only a few drivers still with a shot of winning the Chase?

Now, Johnson leads Hamlin by 41 points and Kenseth is still in 11th, a whopping 256 back after Johnson’s third-place finishes at both California and Charlotte. How many other Chasers are keeping Johnson in sight?

— Kevin Harvick lost 24 points at California and 23 at Charlotte
— Jeff Gordon lost 27 at California and 71 at Charlotte thanks to that speeding penalty. (And to be fair, a speeding penalty at California was the reason that he lost points there, too)
— Kyle Busch lost 107 at California because of his blown engine, but gained back 10 at Charlotte. Probably too little too late.
— Tony Stewart gained 20 by winning at Auto Club, but lost 70 by struggling at Charlotte. What a tease.
— Carl Edwards lost 109 points at California because of his engine problem and 38 more at Charlotte

You get the point. No one can afford a bad race when Johnson is running as well as he is. Of course, that’s stating the obvious, but it’s worth pointing out at times just how quickly a poor finish can doom someone.

Realistically, this year’s Chase is a three-man show. Gordon is in fourth, but he’s 156 points behind. He can’t be counted out completely because that’s a margin that could be realistically made up in five races, but with the way that his season has gone, is anyone expecting Gordon to make it to Victory Lane, let alone close that deficit against Jimmie Johnson?

Stewart and Busch are tied for fifth — Busch has the tiebreaker thanks to more victories — but they’re 177 points out. If anyone in the field could make that up, it would be Busch, but he said Thursday that the only person who could realistically go out and win the last six races was Johnson and company. If Busch doesn’t believe he can do it, then it’s not going to happen.

It is possible that the field could do the opposite of what’s happened over the past two races and tighten back up, but come on; it’s probably more likely that NASCAR will decide to give Clint Bowyer his 150 points back.

NASCAR’s gotten a lot of grief from many about the Chase because a lot of purists feel that it’s contrived and manufactures drama. Whether you believe that or not, imagine the cries if the sport was to put that proposed elimination format in place for 2011? And at this point, why should they? Sprint Cup teams are showing NASCAR that they’re perfectly capable of eliminating themselves from contention.

Contact Nick Bromberg

Tuesday on the Frontstretch:
5 Points to Ponder: Kahne Out of Line, RPM Out of Control, and NNS Regulars Out of Luck
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In NASCAR: Charlotte-Martinsville Edition
One Last Look At NASCAR’s Hall Before Closing The Door On Next Year
Talking NASCAR TV: ESPN Errors Muck Up Charlotte

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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10/19/2010 09:35 AM

If this was the NNS, then Busch could make up 177 points over 5 races, but he hasn’t showed that consistency in Cup, and certainly not during the chase.

Now, I hate to have to do this, but Randy is right in this instance. Whether na$car uses the old points format, the current points format, or a new points format driver’s always elminate themselves from contention along the way.
Rewriting the rules so that a particular points position is automatically eliminated regardless of their mathematical chances won’t add to the chase’s credibility, but it certainly won’t detract from it either.
There is no credibility to begin with, and this would just add another layer of superficiality, forcing drama where none exists.
It would be good for the media and bloggers though. It would give you another topic to discuss along the way.

10/19/2010 09:55 AM

I’m convinced NASCAR is more concerned with turning the Chase into a show than finding the fairest, best way to crown a champion. ISC needs to sell tickets at Homestead, and they need a viable championship battle. The elimination chase is out there to guarantee the title is decided at Homestead. If you think the regular season champ gets the shaft now, enter the proposed elimination chase. Some one could theoretically lead the points all the way to Homestead, have a problem no fault of their own and lose the title. Yeah, it would be an exciting show, but so is a demolition derby. While far from perfect at least the current Chase works the same as the old system with a point reset.

10/19/2010 10:13 AM

Craig, consistency has always been the key. I would just like to see them drop the chase altogether.
Homestead can go F___ itself, as far as I’m concerned. If na$car wants people to buy tickets to the track, how about altering the track to provide great action whether or not a championship battle occurs there?
I do agree with what you say about na$car looking for a show rather than a fair way to crown a champ.

10/19/2010 10:41 AM

Jacob, I agree with you about Homestead. It’s amazing how we get the Chase not long after Homestead becomes the last race of the season. It seems like this track is dependent on late season drama to sell tickets. If a track can’t support a Cup race on the strength of the race alone, it shouldn’t hold the finale. Bruton Smith was 100% right about Homestead, he just didn’t say it in a nice PR way. Under the proposed elimination chase as I read it, Homestead would become a winner take all battle between 2 or 3 drivers. THAT IS NOT NASCAR OR HOW A CHAMPION SHOULD BE CROWNED.
In the past people accepted the distinction between what it took to win races and a title. Individual races seemed to matter more pre-Chase, especially with the Winston Million/No-Bull rewards. It’s amazing that Indy Car and Formula-1 can get good close championship battles without some playoff format. I believe the problem before the Chase and now is with the way driver points are rewarded. Too little incentive to win races, and too little punishment for a bad run. Start and parks have made this even worse (look at Texas last year).

10/19/2010 10:56 AM

Jacob, is it really necessary to bold certain words for emphasis? It’s annoying and self-indulgent. The first couple of times it was fine, but now you’re bolding words for no reason at all. Your remarks are written well but the bolding is the equivalent of yelling by typing in caps.

10/19/2010 12:32 PM

How about the years without the chase?….

You mean when race wins actually meant something and the championship was secondary to a fan?
When ratings were climbing and sponsors names were on race cars?
When drivers were heroes and not corporate spokesmen or pretty boy self anointed rock stars?
When 500 miles were a grueling challenge and not a product?

I didn’t think so.

Those trees make a forest you know…

10/19/2010 01:49 PM

Sad, but true. This long time nas$car fan has lost interest in my once beloved sport. I cannot believe I’m saying this. But nas$car under Brain Fart’s leadership (sic) is headed into the proverbial toilet. I didn’t know who wo n last week-ends race till the next day.

10/19/2010 03:15 PM

Oh, Randy, I am certainly not a fan. But on the rare occasion that you make a solid point, I will acknowledge it.

AnnieMack, thank you for saying that I write well. However, the entire purpose of the ability to use bold print is for placing emphasis on the words that you choose. If there are complaints over that, they should probably be directed to the webmaster. Why is the ability there, if people aren’t supposed to use them?

Craig, I agree with you. And babydufus, as well. all the signs are there, na$car refuses to listen, see, or be distracted by such petty trivialities.

Carl D.
10/19/2010 03:47 PM

Personally, I don’t care whether there’s a close points race or not. I believe in rewarding the guy who has performed the best over the entire season. I prefer legitimacy and integrity to contrivance. The ratings over the past few seasons seem to indicate that a lot of other fans share this view.

By the way, prior to the chase being implemented, there was still good racing at the season-ending races at Atlanta even when the championship had already been decided prior to the race.

The only “elimination” that Nascar needs to implement is the complete elimination of the chase.

Vancouver Olympian
10/20/2010 09:31 AM

Jacob eats puppies

Its not my fault… the webmaster lets me enter random statements and then bold them whenever I like. Take it up with him.