By admin | October 1, 2008
By Richard Allen
Ever since its inception in 2004, the Chase for the Championship has been a touchy subject among NASCAR fans. The playoff style format has some supporters and it also has many detractors.
The starts Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch have gotten off to in the first three races of the Chase in 2008 provide ammunition for those on both sides of the argument.
Those who oppose the Chase can argue that Biffle has a chance to win a championship he has no business winning. He was 596 points behind leader Busch after the 25th race of the season in California. If the old system in which points were simply counted over the entire length of the season were still in use there is no way Biffle would have made up such a difference over the last eleven races.
Those who oppose the current playoff system would contend that winning a NASCAR championship is supposed to be about consistency over the long haul, not just getting hot during the final ten race stretch. The NASCAR season is like a marathon, not a sprint race.
However, the old system is no longer in use. It was replaced by the current playoff system in which the Top 12 drivers after the 26th race of the year are essentially placed on a level field and allowed to race it out over the season’s final ten races.
Biffle went from being far behind in the standings to within 80 points of the leader in the space of one race.
Kyle Busch’s recent struggles would have allowed Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson to have closed dramatically over the past three weeks. Never the less, it would still be only a three horse race. Biffle would remain on the outside looking in.
Those who do favor the Chase format would argue that Biffle’s resurgence shows the very beauty of the system. More drivers are brought into contention than there ever would have been otherwise.
Some supporters of the playoff system would contend that to argue against the Chase would be the equivalent of saying the New England Patriots should have been given the NFL championship last year despite the fact they lost the Super Bowl. After all, they were the best team throughout the vast majority of the season so why should one game make a difference?
Those who favor the Chase would argue that being good in the regular season is essential, but being able to get it done when it matters most is the mark of a champion.
No matter what happens over the next seven races, 2008 will likely be remembered as the year of Kyle Busch, one way or the other. Some will remember the number of wins he compiled and the dominance he showed over the majority of the season. That will stand out to many no matter who wins the championship.
On the other hand, some will remember the fact that Busch and his team collapsed down the stretch. They were unable to get it done when it mattered most despite their early season invincibility.
One’s perspective will determine just how the Chase runs of Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch are to be viewed.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Saturday.
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