Okay, now the first installment of this new-format Chase for the Sprint Cup is in this history books. Did you like it? Hate it? Are you indifferent to it? I admit I was kind of iffy on it when this format was first announced before the start of the 2014 season. I was okay with eliminations at least part of the way through the 10-race Chase, but I wasn’t sure about the championship coming down to one race. The more I thought about it, though, and after seeing it play out once, it grew on me.
Critics of this new Chase, some of those being critics of the Chase through all of it incarnations, griped that it doesn’t reward the “real champion.” I guess by “real champion,” they mean the driver who accumulates the most points through the entire 36-race season. Well, what sport does that? Okay, other forms of motorsports do, I guess. Okay, I’ll give them that.
Anyway, the critics of this most recent Chase format got their feathers even more ruffled as Ryan Newman made his way through round after round of the Chase. After all, this system was supposed to put extra weight on race wins, but Newman was advancing just fine without winning races. The horror (sarcasm)! How could this happen (more sarcasm)? My answer to that: consistency needs to count for something folks. I actually agree with Brian France on that.
I guess, as far as those folks are concerned, it sure is a good thing five-time-winner Kevin Harvick wound up the champion in the end. But they probably won’t let go of the fact that a winless Newman came oh-so-close. He did finish second to Harvick in the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.
For those who want to see changes, at least a couple of people — people more qualified than me, other NASCAR media members and fans watching from the peanut gallery — offered ideas on some tweaks to this latest Chase format.
Jeff Gordon’s idea involved a separate points standings for Chase drivers. Here’s what he said:
“I would say that the one thing that I thought about — and this would not have moved me to the final round, but I think it’s the right thing to do — and that’s you have a separate points system just for the 16 and then for the eight, or the 12 and then the eight. I just think there’s so many factors with all the other competitors out there that you should be racing those guys. You should be racing them in points, not necessarily racing them and all the other competitors out there. I think you’ve earned that right.”
I’m not big on the idea of an additional points system. But, while I’m okay with this new Chase as it is, a tweak idea from Dale Jarrett sounds not so bad. Jarrett’s tweak pretty much just makes sure that the champion wins at least one race. Other than that, it doesn’t change much.
Here’s Jarrett’s idea, in his own words:
“I proposed something to NASCAR and maybe I’ve said this to a number of y’all before. My solution to the situation, and we’ll use this year. Ryan Newman’s here but the only way he could become the champion is if he wins this race. Otherwise, the other three are the ones racing for the championship, to finish ahead of each other.”
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? And it would silence those who complain about the possibility of a winless driver being crowned champion.
Again, I’m fine with the format the way it is. But if a change is necessary, I think I’d go with something along the lines of Jarrett’s idea.
What do you think? Take this online poll.
Also, talk to us on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner