By admin | July 31, 2012
By Richard Allen
For anyone who has visited this website with any degree of regularity, it is not a well kept secret that this writer loathes the Chase for the Championship. So, I’d be happy with any excuse/reason that would cause NASCAR to abandon the so-called playoff.
With that said, the fact that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has taken the Sprint Cup points lead for the first time since 2004, the opportunity is now there to cast away the championship system.
Many would argue that the Chase system was adopted after Matt Kenseth locked up the 2003 title well before the season finale and thus robbed NASCAR and its television partners of a down-to-the-wire championship battle. So, an artificial means of creating a tight battle was created.
And more, the Chase and the points system itself has been tinkered with several times throughout its history to assure that the battle comes to the last race of the season with fewer points between the leaders. Last year, NASCAR and the television networks involved in the coverage of the sport had their dreams come true when Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards ended in a flat footed tie after the last lap of the season had been completed.
Further, the Chase has also been changed so as to fit more drivers into it. The original format called for ten drivers to be included. Then, that number was expanded to twelve. Finally, the current system of the top-10 in points along with two wildcard inclusions now vie for the series title.
Many would argue, and probably correctly, that the expansion and the wildcard adjustments were made to assure that the sport’s biggest stars would not be left out. After seasons in which the likes of Jeff Gordon, Stewart and Earnhardt missed the Chase, NASCAR simply expanded the number of drivers to make sure those who generate the greatest amounts of revenue would remain relevant throughout the season.
So back to my original argument. With the sport’s most popular driver now at the top of the standings, there is no need to rely on ways to artificially keep him in contention.
As a matter of fact, the current Chase format could very easily work against Junior. After the 26th race of the season in Richmond, the points will be reset and those who have won the most races will be rewarded with a greater number of points. Unless the 88 team adds more wins, there will be several drivers to move ahead of Junior in the standings.
So NASCAR needs to act quickly and abandon the Chase for the Championship while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leads the Sprint Cup standings. Hey, like I said, I’ll settle for any excuse to get rid of the playoff.
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