By admin | September 25, 2013
By Richard Allen
After Matt Kenseth won the Sprint Cup(then Winston Cup) championship by a comfortable margin in 2003 by piling up consistent top-10 finishes with only one win, NASCAR’s leadership decided to implement a new system that would assure a tight points battle down to the final race of the season. However artificial, the new format is supposed to create excitement for fans, and perhaps more importantly, television.
But in 2013, the Chase for the Sprint Cup seems to be failing in its mission to send more than a few of the field of twelve drivers hurtling toward the season’s final event with a chance to win the title. Instead, after only two races the championship battle appears to have already narrowed itself to three drivers.
After last week’s race in New Hampshire, Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, have proven to be a powerful force in the 2013 version of the NASCAR playoff. Those two, along with perennial favorite Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports are threatening to turn this into a three horse race very quickly.
As of now, Kenseth holds a 14 point lead over Busch and a 18 point advantage over Johnson. The next closest driver is Carl Edwards, but he isn’t really all that close. Currently, Kenseth’s former teammate at Roush Fenway Racing is 36 points off the lead.
But consider this. Kenseth was in 6th place of the standings prior to the Chase realignment following the Richmond race. Had the points not been re-set, fans could be treated to the epic charge of a red hot driver over the last ten races as he climbed past other drivers one by one. That charge could have culminated with a great comeback story in Homestead.
Instead, the Chase not only evened Kenseth and his team up with everyone else, but the bonus points he was awarded for winning races during the ‘regular season’ actually gave the best car a head start. Is that what the masterminds(Ha!) of the Chase envisioned?
I know, I know. Some of you can’t wait to get to the comments section to tell me that it isn’t over yet. Talladega is the wildcard that could even things up.
Well, first of all, these three top contenders have proven to be pretty proficient on the restrictor plate tracks of late and the best cars run out front at Talladega, ahead of the potential danger.
Secondly, Talladega is three races away and at the rate things are going, Kenseth, Busch and Johnson will be so far ahead that a bad race won’t matter.
The fact of the matter is, the Chase for the Sprint Cup is supposed to be a device that assures those who are interested in such things a tight points battle right to the very end. This year it’s doing the opposite by putting the best drivers out front to begin with and letting them run away from the pack.
Would anyone be surprised to hear of some big change for the Chase in the off-season if this one turns out to be less than dramatic? Eliminations?
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