As I’ve said before, "Tweaking the chase, is like tweaking a Yugo. It will still be a Yugo". Anything can be made better, including Yugo’s, and the Chase. With the emphasis that NASCAR places on the Chase, for it to do anything like they want it to do, (so far it hasn’t) some changes are needed.
Unlike stick and ball sports, NASCAR’s playoff involves all the teams, not just the contenders. That’s one of it’s inherent weaknesses. I’ve read countless variations on the theme that anyone who wins a race should be included. While I do favor the bonus points for winning, I can’t really buy into letting all winners in. The Chase is, after all, supposed to crown a season champion. Maybe, this being NASCAR- and NASCAR, being all about money- teams who have unused bonus points, like Jamie Mac, Juan,
or David Reutimann could sell them. You know like they do to manipulate the top 35 rule. Oops, sorry! my cynicism crept in, and I was trying so hard.
I do favor giving more weight to wins, but I still think it should be the whole package. I hate seeing multi winners, like Matt Kenseth last year, and Jamie not make it in, but if you’re good enough to be a multiple winner, then you should be good enough to put the rest of the package together.
One thing I do feel strongly about is that the regular or- as I like to call it- the pre-season winner deserves more consideration. I personally feel that he should start tied with the top bonus point man. As it stands, being the regular season leader counts for nothing. Just a further de-valuation of the regular season.
To give weight to race wins, (as well as regular season points leader) these bonus points need to carry more weight.
Remember, this whole Chase thingy came about because Matt won the championship in 2003 with only one win. A totally bogus reason, but the reason nevertheless. How’s it going to play if a winless team should hit on something, and win it all with a string of top 2-5 finishes? Not likely, but possible.
The Chase field already get their points re-set to start the Chase. Even with the re-set, they’re still racing the entire field for points.
Meaning that if a Chaser were to either break, or wreck, before the
start and park teams do their thing. They’d get 34 points while the winner could get 190, as the Chasers are not racing the entire field for the Championship. Why make them race the field for points? They should have a point system that is only impacted by how they finish In relation to the other Chasers. To make winning carry more weight, how about something like 12 points for a Chase winner, graduated down to six for seventh, with everyone eighth through twelfth, getting five. To gain the top point total, a Chaser would not have to win the race. Only finish ahead of the other Chasers. Although I expect most, if not all races to be won by Chasers.
Under this system, the rest of the field is removed from the points equation.
To reflect the reduced points, I think three bonus points rather than ten. At three, four season wins, would equal a Chase win.
Under this system, J.J., Denny, and Kevin, as the season point leader, would start the Chase with a big leg up, but I think that’s not a bad thing. Under this scenario, a winless team would have to catch fire, rather than merely get hot. To catch the teams who got it done during the regular season.
On the other side of that coin, a Chaser who breaks a motor or wrecks, in the Chase, and finishes thirty-eighth, or so isn’t completely buried. This should keep the Chase field tightened up. Giving a better opportunity for the kind of Chase NASCAR needs.
The idea of some sort of elimination has been mentioned, (even by me, if you were paying attention) but I was making fun of it at the time. I’m trying to be as serious as I ever get now. The elimination thing seems like just another contrivance in an already contrived situation. We all know that the bottom half of the Chase field have little, or no realistic chance of winning the thing. The Earnhardt/Gordon, expansion from 10 to 12 practically guaranteed this. Chase teams earned their way in, and I think they deserve the attention and sponsor exposure that goes with it for the entire Chase.
As it is, teams missing the Chase, still get to race, but it can’t be fun, being relegated to "field filler" status. Having to tip toe around the Chase teams. To me that’s really the fatal flaw in the Chase.
If you remember the first one in 2004, if Kurt had lost his wheel 50 feet further down the track, Johnson would have won five of them. I’m not saying that JJ is not a great, or deserving champion. If we had no chase he still would have probably won some championships during this stretch, but I doubt it would have been four.
As long as we have the Chase, it needs to do at least two important things: it needs to generate some renewed fan interest. At a time when fans are a little jaded, and distractions (like football) are intruding. Probably most important, at least to me, is that it crown a deserving champion. Come on NASCAR, make your tweaks, and give us a Chase that does this, and I’ll find a new horse to ride. Until then,…… well you get the idea.-