By admin | September 21, 2009
By Richard Allen
Who cares about the drivers who didn’t make the Chase for the Championship, anyway?
Well, considering that fan favorites such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and others did not make it, there are probably quite a few fans who care about the drivers who did not make the Chase. However, since the vast majority of media coverage is going to be centered on the twelve championship contenders over the last ten weeks of the season, those guys would be just as well off to stay home, coverage wise that is.
You may have noticed in the coverage for the Sylvania 300 that not a great amount of attention was given to those who did not qualify for the playoff. An argument could be made that such is just the way of things. Those drivers and teams need to perform better if they want to be talked about.
However, another argument could be made that there is something inherently wrong with a system that causes approximately three-fourths of the field to be essentially ignored.
At the initial inception of the Chase for the Championship the idea was that rather than one, two or at most three drivers competing for the title in the final weeks of the season, there would be ten(now twelve) drivers vying for the glory. So, with more drivers brought into contention, there would be more drivers to receive attention.
Actually, the opposite has become true. Fewer drivers now receive attention than before.
Under the previous system, if only one or two drivers were racing for the title, the media had to focus their attention on others. Besides, the intriguing stories under the old system often came from drivers making moves late in the season. Now, that is a secondary concern.
Let’s compare NASCAR’s system with other examples from the world of sports.
College football has a system that can be somewhat compared to the Chase. With the most recent adjustment made to the Bowl Championship Series, there are supposed to be five games to make up the most elite of the post-season games. In reality, the game that is set to decide the national championship gets virtually all of the attention while the others serve as somewhat of an afterthought.
The teams who make the Chase get all of the attention and everyone else seems to be somewhat of an afterthought even though they are still out there, much like those teams in college football who make a bowl game but not the ‘big’ game.
The NFL playoffs are not at all like the NASCAR form of a playoff. Unlike college football and NASCAR, in the NFL teams stop playing once eliminated. So, there is no need for cries of no attention being received.
Obviously, the teams outside of the Chase could not be sent home and races run with only 12 cars.
As it turns out, the Chase has proven to be somewhat counter productive for the teams to not make the playoff.
When I first heard of the idea for the Chase I thought it was the silliest thing I had ever heard. But then, I decided to give it a chance to see if it would grow on me. And admittedly, there is something to be said for the tightness of the points battle going into the last race.
Now, I have gone back the other way. I simply can’t get over the fact that the winner of the title is not necessarily the legitimate champion. For example, if Mark Martin goes on to win the Sprint Cup this season it will be because he was essentially handed several hundred points so that he could be brought even with the leader for the sake of a made for television run to the finish.
Aside from creating a system that produces an illegitimate champion, NASCAR’s system causes teams who are desperately seeking sponsorship or who get hot late in the season to be forgotten. So, to those who didn’t make the Chase this season, have a good off season and see ya next year.
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