By admin | October 19, 2008
By Richard Allen
Since it has essentially become a common practice anyway, why not just plan to always start the Chase for the Championship drivers in the Top 12 for every Chase race?
Qualifying for the Tums QuikPak 500 in Martinsville was rained out. It seems as though rain on a Friday at a NASCAR track has become a certainty of late(which makes me wish there was a track in the Knoxville area with a race upcoming).
As the race started on Sunday, the Chase contestants were immediately matched up with each other. That did not seem like such a bad thing. Perhaps it should just become the norm.
Make no mistake, qualifying should not be done away with once the Chase starts. It should still be held to determine what drivers actually make the race and pit stall selection. The fastest qualifier should still be rewarded in some way, but since the Bud Shootout is no longer for pole winners the only thing lost would be track position.
Maybe instead of lining up by points, the Chasers could have their own qualifying session. They would qualify against themselves for the spots inside the Top 12 while the others vied for positions 13-43.
NASCAR’s playoff system is different from almost every other playoff system in sports. Those who did not qualify for the playoff are still allowed to race among those who did. However, their place in the standings is treated differently from those who did qualify.
Since the system is a bit of an oddity, why not just go all the way and completely separate the two groups on qualifying day? That way the championship contenders could get right down to business. Apparently, Mother Nature thinks it is a good idea. Maybe NASCAR should consider it.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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