|NASCAR's Brain Trust Seems Ready To Change Chase Again|
According to Charlotte Observer, NASCAR’s favorite outlet for trial balloons, The Chase field will be expanded to 16 drivers this year (Sweet 16?). Win a race and you’re in. If 16 drivers don’t win races (likely), the remaining positions will be filled by those with the most points.
After that, four drivers will be eliminated – based on points – after the third, sixth and ninth races of The Chase. The national champ is the top-finishing driver from the Final Four (hmmm, where have I heard that before?) at Homestead.
Why? What’s the point?
If the point is to create an exciting “game seven/Super Bowl “ for the final race of the year, this will probably do it. Of course it will cheapen the championship beyond recognition. If the 16th place driver, a driver without a win during the regular season, somehow makes it to the final and then is the highest finisher of the Final Four – and again, possibly without a win – does NASCAR really think people will view him as the Sprint Cup Champion? He may have the Cup and the money, but he won’t be the champion.
If the point is to make for better or harder racing, that’s an insult to the drivers and teams.
If the point is to derail Jimmie Johnson, why not just add weight to Johnson’s car? That’s the way they do it in sports car racing (now also controlled by NASCAR) and horse racing. Keep adding weight until he can’t possibly win.
If the point is to provide three more opportunities for the type of shenanigans that played out at Richmond last year, this should do the trick. It would have to be done with a little more flair and finesse than the ham-handed attempt by Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing, but does anyone really think, with everything on the line x3, that type of manipulation won’t be tried again?
Not surprisingly, the Observer has been fairly supportive of NASCAR’s balloon. But most of the comments in the chat rooms, racing forums and in response to articles about the change have been negative. Mostly extremely negative. But don’t think for a moment that will change NASCAR’s mind. They have shown a repeated willingness to go against wishes of its core audience. The casual fan, the ones NASCAR hopes to attract with the changes, could care less. They’re not even aware a change is under consideration.
Unfortunately, NASCAR isn’t the only organization affected by this pointless madness. Formula One seems to be committed to making the last race of the season a “double points” event, with perhaps two other double points races added during the season. Not surprisingly, Sebastian Vettel calls the idea “absurd.” He’s right.
Even the National Football League is considering a point change. Touchdowns would be worth an automatic seven points. No more extra points. But if a team wants to go for an added point (the old two-point conversion), that would be good for one point. Total of eight. If you go for it and miss, subtract one point. Is nothing sacred?
Since everyone seems to have an idea about how to make the NASCAR championship more exciting, how about this: make the final race of the year an Australian Pursuit Race. You know, put the fastest cars at the back of the pack. Whenever a car gets passed, it’s out of the race. Last car running is NASCAR’s national champion. The Australian pursuit race was a staple of short tracks in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and you still see them now and then. They're certainly exciting.
So why not an Australian Pursuit Race for the NASCAR title? They seem willing to try everything else.