By admin | October 10, 2011
By Richard Allen
The Chase for the Championship was designed with the intent of creating drama during the final ten weeks of the Sprint Cup season at a time when NASCAR has to compete with the NFL and the Major League Baseball playoffs for the sports world’s attention. But after four races, this year’s Chase is hardly allowing the sport to put its best foot forward.
While a look at the standings indicates that this is shaping up to be one of the closest battles in the history of the series, the individual races have been lifeless. The problem with that scenario is individual races keep people’s attention on a week by week basis where close points battles only keep people’s attention for the final week or two of the season.
In my opinion, the problem with the Chase is the tracks chosen to be a part of the ten race format.
In Chicago, the 1.5 mile ‘cookie cutter’ did what those type tracks so often do. It provided a somewhat eventless race which ended with a fuel mileage coast rather than a fender banging battle to the finish line. No matter how much the television announcers may try to make such an ending sound exciting, there is something inherently wrong with watching race car drivers shut their engines off under green flag conditions so they can out coast the competition.
The second Chase event in New Hampshire was one of the most lackluster races in recent memory. There was no passing, no controversy and no reason for casual fans to stick around during the middle stages of the event.
In Dover, NASCAR had a race and not many fans showed up. Scores of empty seats glared through the camera lens. When people see an empty amusement park or restaurant they wonder what’s wrong with it to cause it to be empty. The same can be said for empty grandstands at a sporting event.
The ‘cookie cutter’ track in Kansas offered long stretches of parade style racing which happened to end with a somewhat interesting finish due to a series of late race cautions. Still, the finish may not have been noticed by many due to the fact that the first four-fifths of the race were son dull.
I have never been a fan of the Chase for the Championship. It is the individual races that drive my interest level in this sport. But if the Chase was indeed designed to create drama and excitement, the tracks NASCAR has chosen to showcase their title run are doing little to help the cause.
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