NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Heartland: Making a Mockery of How NASCAR’s Chase Makes a Mockery of Racing

Well kids, here we are once again. NASCAR’s season is over, evidenced by the fact that football has started! Oh, yeah I forgot. We still have this “Chase” playoff system thingy to suffer through yet so once again, I will extol the virtues of getting rid of it! Before I begin, though, let me say a few things (again) about racing in general.

First of all, we all know the Chase is Brain Fart’s idea of competing against the NFL during this time of year. It came about because Matt Kenseth, throughout the course of the 2003 season, had the audacity to win only one damn race, while Ryan Newman won eight – yet Kenseth claimed to be the champion!

This made a lot of people (mostly in the Ivory Towers of NASCAR) upset, and Mr. Fart saw it as the perfect time to leave his stench upon the sport. Thus, the Chase was born.

What the head Fart failed to consider, though, was this simple fact: racing is NOT a stick and ball sport. In other sports, during their “playoffs,” should you lose at the wrong time, you go home. That is not the case in racing. Never has been and never should be.

Up until 2004, the purpose of having a racing “season” has been to crown the best overall performer THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. Yes, the points system to determine the best has changed over the years, but no matter its form, it still rewarded not only wins (although not enough) but consistency over the entire year. People forget the reason that Kenseth was the 2003 champion, and it is really quite simple. Kenseth’s average starting position was 21.3. His average finish was 10.2! That is his average for the entire year, folks! Newman, meanwhile, faster than a chick I knew in high school during qualifying, averaged a 6.7 start with a 13.9 finishing average. Now you tell me, who would you vote for to be the champion? A guy that starts in the back and finishes up front, or a guy who starts up front but falls back by the end of the race? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this year’s averages for some key drivers through 26 races, showing you how this playoff system makes a mockery out of their stats.

Up until B. Fart essentially “started the season over” after last Saturday, Kevin Harvick was leading the pack over second-place Kyle Busch by 228 points. Harvick and Busch both have three wins, so what is the difference? Kevin’s average start is 19.0, combined with an average finish of 9.8! Kyle starts at 14.7 in comparison, posting a 12.5 finish as well. Who’s been the better racer this year? The guy who improves almost 10 spots, or the guy with just over two? Now, let’s look at the boys who have the most wins, but yet could not catch Harvick.

Denny Hamlin: 6 Wins. Avg. Start: 16.2. Avg. Finish: 15.2!
Jimmie Johnson: 5 Wins. Avg. Start: 7.3. Avg. Finish: 14.5!

If there was NOT a Chase, Hamlin would currently sit in ninth place overall, with Johnson sitting in fifth. Magically now, even though one guy only improves his position by an average of one position per race, and the other actually drops seven positions, they sit first and second among all drivers. Totally absurd!

Other key players in this drama are…

Carl Edwards: Avg. Start: 16.8. Avg. Finish: 11.9.
Jeff Gordon: Avg. Start: 12.0. Avg. Finish: 12.1. (seems he’s only dropping back by a quarterpanel or so!)
Greg Biffle: Avg. Start: 17.3. Avg. Finish: 15.3. (Greg barely limps into 12th spot, 546 points behind leader Harvick, yet magically with the Chase is suddenly up to seventh, only 20 behind him! Better yet, he’s only 50 behind “Chase leader” Hamlin!)

Listen folks, and I know you are getting tired of hearing this criticism but… this system is just way out of whack!

If NASCAR wants to put ALL the emphasis on winning, while making a mockery of the rest of the season and consistency, let’s just do it then! Forget all this other Chase crap; simply put, the man with the most wins takes the Championship!

Personally, I’d crown the champion by a system that rewards both wins and consistency. Oh yeah, we sorta had that… but what do I know? I’m just a hayseed in Iowa!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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