(Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)

Voices from the Cheap Seats: How Can There NOT Be An Asterisk?

The more I soaked in the shower and thought about it – yes, I do some of my best thinking when I’m all wet – the more I became convinced that this new format virtually invalidates all the previous Chase championships before it.

Notice I said, “Chase championships.” I’m not even going to go down the road of NASCAR’s playoff versus the classic points system. No, this new format is so screwed up it makes me yearn for the days of simply “the Chase.” Maybe that is Brian France’s master plan, but wow, how screwed up is that?!

Now, somewhere out there, there is a nerd – er, excuse me, a person who has way too much time on their hands – that has been still keeping tabs on all the races for the last 10 years and converting the standings using the classic points system. That is great and it does come in handy sometimes when trying to get a point across about the mess this all has become, but now, the thought occurred to me that this person has a whole new area into which to expand.

Enter the era of the “Elimination Chase” versus the “Classic Chase.”

From now on, someone needs to keep track of how those that have been eliminated – especially since some really, really big teams are among them – would have fared, say, one scant year ago under the old Chase system as they continue on through the year.

Not only that, but the nerd could go back and look at, for the sake of argument, “Jimmie Knaus,” and see if Jimmie Knaus ever had a couple of bad races that would have eliminated them under the new format and see if they would have six championships. Maybe they still would have… maybe not. The only thing I do know is I sure as heck am not going to be the one to waste all the time to figure it out. Chances are, based on how much the Chase crowned different champions compared to the old point system I have a sneaking suspicion this new format’s close to doing the same.

(Credit: CIA Stock Photography)
There’s the “Classic Chase” and there’s the “Elimination Chase,” which yielded some unexpected results Sunday. (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

The long and the short of it all is, with this “Chase grid,” how can there NOT be an asterisk by a champion’s name? Especially if you are of the mind that this type of champion is as important as or equal to a past Chase champion – not to mention a champion of yesteryear, like Jeff Gordon, to keep it somewhat modern. I’ve said it before, as recently as last week, that this format is nothing more than who gets lucky at the right time. Brad Keselowski got lucky. Yes, he is a good driver but he is also still in the hunt due to nothing but luck.

Guess what though? Things are gonna change.

There were a couple of things I heard Jimmie Johnson say during his post-race interview that vividly point out what is wrong with the sport today and how it has even become the norm in the way the competitors think about the sport.

The first was when he hoped he would get help from “another Hendrick team, like the (No.) 41.” Does that just not sit right with anybody else? Yes, I know that there is an alliance and that Stewart-Haas Racing uses Hendrick engines, but really? To think of them as a teammate?

The second little tidbit came when Johnson said something to the effect that the rules will change, officials will adjust things and that they’ll be back in it next year. This matter-of-fact philosophy is how they think, folks!

While those comments cannot be found in the written press releases, the entire video can still be seen here on NASCAR.com.  (For now, anyway; I’ve noticed that videos sometimes tend to disappear from that site once the censors have the time to go through them all and remove anything that might be detrimental to stock car racing.) Johnson’s interview starts at 1:43 and ends at 3:11. I urge you to take a look and tell me what you think.

You know, as I re-read some of what I have written, I’m really sort of glad that I’ve decided to hang up the weekly column gig. Me, referring to it as the Classic Chase…  look what they’ve done to me!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter
I agree to have my personal information transfered to AWeber ( more information )
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Jeff is one of the longest-tenured staffers at Frontstretch, starting his second decade as the resident humorist and pain-in-the-butt that keeps NASCAR (and his fellow co-workers) honest. Writing Voices From The Cheap Seats, every Tuesday, his BSNews! Segments along with alter ego “Stu Padasso” have developed a large following. Jeff makes his home in Tennessee and is a Bristol groupie, camping out for the August night race every year since he can remember.

Support Frontstretch on Patreon

Check Also

Stock Car Scoop: Bubba Wallace’s Newest Sponsors

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks With the Daytona International Speedway road …

Daytona’s Going to Be Different. Let’s Enjoy It.

Arguably the most normal part of the 2020 motorsports calendar came on Jan. 25, when …

20 comments

  1. Avatar

    It’s hard not to think of the champions from the last ten years all having asterisks by them. We haven’t had a consistent format since that schizophrenic idiot took over. I hate the chase but what I hate more is the fact that it has changed 5 times in 10 years. All Jimmie was doing was making an observation that we’ve all made ourselves, the format seems to change every year. Funny how none of the other, serious, sports do that with their playoffs. I am so tired of this war that’s been going on between fans and the Brian France for the last decade. I’m just waiting for Jeff to retire then I can remove myself from this madness.

    • Avatar

      I wonder how many more fans will leave when their favorite driver retires? I’ve never really had a favorite driver so all I can equate it to is manufacturers. If Ford left tomorrow I would never watch another NASCAR race. I remain convinced that Dodge took more fans with them then Toyota will ever bring in (if Toyota has brought in any fans at all). And finally I wonder, ARE there any new fans? I have run across only a few other people in the past year or so that even follow NASCAR anymore and none of them were under 50. When was the last time you saw a NASCAR t shirt anywhere but the track?

      • Avatar

        from the sounds of it, at least 2 and I know enough Gordon fans who say the same thing to figure that many of them feel the same way. I am not invested enough in the “sport” if you can still call it that, to pick another driver to follow.

        As far as NASCAR shirts or hats, not many places at all. I keep a hat in the car just in case it rains or if I’m going to be out in the sun, otherwise unless I’m at the track I no longer see them, not even at Lowe’s.

        • Avatar

          GinaV24, I know exactly what you mean about not being invested enough to pick another driver. If NASCAR solved all their problems tomorrow and every change they made was a positive one in my eyes to the point that I will stick around after Jeff retires, I will never align myself with another driver. I don’t want anything keeping me from walking away if NASCAR changes things so much that I can’t buy into it (like they have since BF took over).
          I would never have embraced the sport if it had been set up like it is now. They have let the balance beam slide so far to the entertainment (i.e., luck) side at the expense of the competition side that I can’t buy into it as a sport anymore.

    • Avatar

      Bill B, right there with you. I’ve made it clear that I am not a fan of the chase, whatever variation, BZF decides is “right” for this year and this crapshoot version makes me really angry and I’m tired of feeling disenfranchised and marginalized by NASCAR & much of the media.

      I’m still in it only because Gordon is still out there on the track, when he retires, I’ll be done with NASCAR. I have to say that I have enjoyed this season (before the chase started) more than others simply because Jeff has had a far better season than others. That doesn’t mean that the racing is better because I don’t think it is, it just means that personally I have been able to have more fun. Fun, remember that? That’s what it used to be about during every race, that went away with the onset of the ugly brick on wheels and the chase.

  2. Avatar

    Chase d’jour. That’s French for “Brian France is an incompetent moron”.

  3. Avatar

    The best and most satisfying “WIN” for me, would be to see either Newman or Kenseith win the Chase without winning a single race. How to you explain, that to someone who does not follow NASCAR, they would think you were an idiot! When both the #20 and #31 are eliminated I will reach for my remote.

  4. Avatar

    On Jayski’s Nascar site, there is an unofficial standings list using the current points system but not the chase format, showing where everyone would be right now. Though now I am curious who would have won the championship each year since 2003 if the points system had never changed, and the chase never existed. Maybe I’ll painstakingly go through every race since then and calculate that.

    • Avatar

      Unfortunately, you cannot compare the two, because the drivers race differently based on a 26 race regular season vs a 36 race full season.

      Case in point would be Tony Stewart missing the 2006 Chase and still winning 2 or 3 races on fuel mileage. There’s no way he would have stretched his fuel for the win if he was still capable of winning the Championship.

  5. Avatar

    BOOM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The best article EVER on this website!

  6. Avatar

    Jeff Meyer, Rick Hendrick’s money is everywhere, how do you know if he had not dumped a boatload of cash to SHR or continues to do so? At our house SHR is referred to HMS South. Jimmie knows of what he speaks. And I gotta ask, what is this a new thing this year with the TV people and print media referring to him as “Mr. Hendrick”? Has Rick reached a plain of super-duper specialness and importance? Poor Roger Penske, Jack Roush, and Joe Gibbs…never hear or read Mr. Penske, Mr. Roush, or Mr. Gibbs.

  7. Avatar

    Instead of the usual griping, vote against BZF/iSC/NA$CRAP pay with your wallet. There’s plenty of competition to get your stock car racing fix –from CARS X-1R Pro Cup to local/regional series (e.g. Southern All Stars).

  8. Avatar

    I think, JM, you have over-thought the interview with JJ. Actually I think too many over think JJ period. He doesn’t decide where the cars will race, he doesn’t build the cars, he doesn’t make the rules – he just drives the hell out of the car.

    Team mate – yes SHR gets HMS support, probably more than we know, and it is also traditional that, in many cases, Chevy helps Chevy, Ford helps Ford, etc… These concepts are not something that JJ and Knaus came up with recently on their own. It’s been happening long before any of us likely saw our first race. I think ultimately JJ is resented (privately) by many drivers because of his success. I the end I do not think JJ should have expected support from Kurt Busch with who he has had run-ins with in the past and likely is one who resents his success. Ultimately in racing narcissism wins out and every driver thinks about what is best for himself.

    Rules comment – JJ was just stating the obvious, NASCAR cannot leave the rule book alone. There will be more changes ahead. There are constant yearly rule changes and also inconsistent enforcement of existing rules. I actually believe that NASCAR is not JJ’s biggest fan – he doesn’t spend much time patting them on the back or vice versa. Gordon on the other hand is. Let him in the Chase last year and the new rules/ car package obviously suits his team. JJ has won more championships under different rules and car packages than any other driver. Give him due credit. I think that is a clue that NASCAR is not trying to give them an advantage – I think the opposite is true. And maybe that is a real reason for an asterisk.

    Fans are not tuning NASCAR out because of JJ or any other driver. Fans are growing tired of rules manipulations and the obvious quest for the quick and easy almighty dollar at the expense of integrity, credibility and fair competition.

    • Avatar

      I agree with you that fans are tired of rule changes, NASCAR manipulations & the quest for the almighty dollar at the expense of credibility, but I also think that the driver factor, Jr not being as competitive until this year, JJ dominating the 10 race trophy run, etc. AND pretty poor tv coverage and the implementation of the ugly car which led to a LOT of poor racing, impacted NASCAR’s popularity. Plus the tracks & NASCAR just plain got greedy with their prices. Now they are paying the price and removing seats.

  9. Avatar

    …when he said the rules will change he is referring to the already in place 2015 rules package regarding the cars having lower downforce, lower power, and an adjustable trackbar among other things. but okay, spin it how you like.

  10. Avatar

    Often hear (& Well earned) Mr Penske

  11. Avatar

    what a bunch of whiners.. I went back and watched a bunch of 1990 era races..The racing this year is equal or, in my opinion, superior to back then. What part is better that you all are missing so much. Mullets, bimbos kissing the winners, 2 cars on the lead lap? Drunks in the infield? Smoking Winstons at the pit stops?
    The current drivers would out race 80% of the old school drivers by 5 laps.
    Nascar has lots of competition on the tv and people in Obama’s nation has less and less money to spend after they pay their taxes, health bills, cell phone bills. It still is the best spectator sport we have.. just enjoy it.

    • Avatar

      You might be right. Maybe most of us are just a bunch of nostalgic “whiners”, as you put it. I’ve certainly been drunk in the infield and I’ve smoked a few Winston’s. However, at least those old school drivers put butts in the grandstands and in front of the TV and pretty much built what you call the best spectator sport we have. And I’ll take Dale Earnhardt Sr. over Jimmie Johnson any day.

    • Avatar

      “What part is better that you all are missing so much”
      First you have to realize that having 40 cars on the lead lap didn’t matter to me, that does not make a race good anymore than having 500 lead changes (especially if the rules are set up to purposely make that happen). I’d prefer an honest race where if someone can lap the entire field then they kicked ass and deserve to benefit from the ass kicking. Now that you have my premise….
      So what is it that I’m missing…
      Single file restarts among the leaders with lapped cars in the other lane.
      No wave arounds
      No lucky dogs
      No fake cautions
      No competition cautions
      A year long championship format
      The old qualifying system, pre 2000 when there was a second chance qualifying on the next day
      Cars that only had one sponsor for the entire season
      TV coverage that covered the race and not only certain cars (MRN does a great job)
      Both Waltrips on the track instead of in the booth (they aren’t bad if you don’t have to hear them talk)
      A sanctioning body that was more interested in satisfying the fans than chasing the dollar (funny how when you satisfy the fans you don’t have to chase the dollars, they kind of come to you

      and of course, mullets, bimbos kissing the winners and drunks in the infield.

    • Avatar

      Karl, You’ve got a point. I have to admit that at times I get tired of listening to me whine. I’ll also give you that sometimes the good old days were not so great after all. With NASCAR though, I find myself missing two things. 1) Drivers that seemed like blue collar types that I could relate to rather than spoiled pouty multi millionaires. And, 2) cars that were not identical right down to engines from only a few suppliers and bore at least some resemblance to street models.