Throw NASCAR ‘regular season’ champs a bone
Since NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell talked about the consideration of rewarding a “regular season” champion during his interview on on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio on Monday, conversation on the topic has re-caught fire. It’s a subject that I’ve discussed on my blog space, here, speaking up in favor of rewarding the champion at the conclusion of the 26-race “regular season,” but what should the reward be?
Fan ideas on social media and opinion pieces from NASCAR journalists and fan bloggers have run the gamut from only awarding a trophy to giving the “regular season” champ byes all the way to the season-finale, single-race round, no-holds-barred, winner take all at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Meanwile, my mind is leaning toward something in-between those two extremes.
While a trophy is great, and drivers, for years, have contended that their motivations are trophies, bragging rights, the pride that goes along with winning, and the such, I think a “regular season” champion deserves a little more. I realize comparisons to stick-and-ball sports make some readers cringe, but I’m going to make one, here, anyway. Regular season champs in other sports routinely receive such advantages as higher seedings and home court/field advantages in the post-season. So, why wouldn’t that work on our playground, i.e. race track?
I definitely think awarding byes all the way through to Homestead is excessive, though. Heck, I’m not even sure a first-round bye is a good idea. I think something more along the lines of a points bonus is in order, here. I’m not sure a single point in the first round is enough, though. How about a three-point bonus with which to start the Chase, above and beyond similar bonuses for race wins? I got that idea from the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program for 2016. In that series, two Dash 4 Cash bonus wins was equated to a race win in terms of the Xfinity Series chase.
Let’s give the “regular season” champ a trophy. Heck, why not even give his team an extra check? But while we’re at it, why don’t we give him some some kind of post-season reward? He’s the “regular season” champion for crying out loud!