The 2019 playoffs have given us some awesome racing, but at the same time, we have seen some drivers who were strong during the regular season have a small decline in performance throughout the last eight races. Two of these drivers are Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Both carried an enormous amount of playoff points into the postseason and so far, it is propelling them toward a Championship 4 berth at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a chance at the championship.
Is it time for NASCAR to stop letting playoff points carry over after a certain round? Should they be eliminated after the Round of 12? Round of 8? Or should everything stay the same?
Next weekend’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be the final time the track hosts the NASCAR’s national season finales. The track has put on some excellent racing over the years, especially since the repave in 2003, and it has hosted some of the most exciting finales we have seen in the sport. However, next season, the track will host its races in the beginning part of the season in March.
Should the track have lost a playoff date altogether? Does it deserve a playoff race or is the new date a perfect time of year for the facility to host a race? Will it be this way forever?
Q: Is it time for playoff points to reset to zero after a certain round? Has it been too easy for some drivers to make it through due to playoff points? Darren R., Syracuse, NY
A: This has been something I have thought about a lot, especially this season. There are several drivers who have not had stellar playoff runs at all, but they have advanced through the rounds because of the playoff points they have accumulated throughout the season.
Take Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, for example. Busch has obviously not had a great playoff run at all, with no wins and only a handful of top-five runs. We’re certainly used to seeing more out of the No. 18 driver.
Logano has also not had the best eight races so far either. He has only one top-five finish thus far in the playoffs, and that came this past weekend at Texas.
The point I am making with those statistics is that both drivers are well inside the top four in points heading into ISM Raceway this weekend, while not even scoring the best results. Is this an issue? Somewhat.
Martin Truex Jr. has had an outstanding playoff run in 2019. He would be well into the top four without his win at Martinsville, but he has had results to back it up.
Now we’ll look at the downside.
Denny Hamlin has had a consistent, yet rough few races in the playoffs. This past weekend hurt his chances of making it to Homestead, but it is not completely over. He has scored a win, and has been very solid throughout the last eight races. Even though he did have playoff points going into the playoffs, he has gained more the last few weeks.
The problem I have with the system is how the playoff points allow a driver to be borderline mediocre for a long time and they could have an easy road to Homestead. If you really want to shake it up, take away playoff points going into the Round of 12. Playoff points should secure you for the first round (Round of 16), but that’s it. This should prevent teams from cruising into the season finale on nothing but mid-season mulligans.
This would force championship favorites to maintain their strength during the postseason or be forced out of the way by late chargers. But you will have those who argue this is too much like the old system where the regular season didn’t really matter.
Personally, I’m up for whatever. Either way, Homestead always brings out the best of the best, and this year will be no different.
Q: With next week being the final playoff race at Homestead for the immediate future, would you have kept the track at least in the playoffs? Do you like where they put it on the schedule for next season? Carl S., Independence, MO
A: Homestead should not have lost their right to a playoff race. Maybe it was time to shake up the season finale, but they should still maintain some importance on the schedule.
Homestead has arguably been the best intermediate track in NASCAR throughout the last several years, with drivers having the ability to run multiple grooves. With drivers like Tyler Reddick and Kyle Larson running the extreme high lane, fans are treated to a show by more than just the Championship 4.
Now, with the schedule changes for 2020. is it in the right spot on next season’s schedule?
I do not think so.
Homestead has been the season finale for almost 20 years now, and with it being moved to the beginning of the season in 2020, it loses its luster. The vibe up to this point has always been chaotic and intense, given that a 10-month long season all comes down to this one race.
Next season, you will still see some great racing but the raw excitement will be gone. Homestead has gone from the finale to just another regular season event. But, hey, maybe at least the weather will be better?
ISM Raceway will likely still put on an exciting race for the finale next season, but I can’t help but feel somewhat sad to see Homestead lose its coveted spot on the schedule.