Monday, November 22, 2010

NASCAR Should Scrap Chase

Another boring NASCAR Sprint Cup season wrapped up yesterday in Homestead, FL. Carl Edwards won the race and Jimmie Johnson won his fifth straight championship. We once again saw a bit of controversy involving Kyle "Crybaby" Busch. His car burst into flames when hitting the wall after getting turned around by Kevin Harvick. Busch had cut Harvick off, and Harvick decided enough was enough. I'm glad Busch wasn't injured, but he had it coming. I'm glad the other drivers are finally saying "enough is enough" to Busch. Kudos to Harvick. That was the best part of the race.

After the 2003 season, NASCAR completely changed it's championship points format in it's Sprint Cup Series (formerly known as Nextel Cup and Winston Cup). Championship points were based upon a running total for all 36 races. Starting with 2004, NASCAR modified the point system into the "Chase for the Championship." Under the Chase format, at the conclusion of the first 26 of the 36 races, the point totals for the top twelve drivers are reset and seeds determined. Each driver's point total is reset to 5000 points and then they are awarded ten bonus points for each race won during the first 26 races. If a driver didn't win a race, their point total remains at 5000. If a driver won five of the first 26 races, they would be awarded ten bonus points per win for a total of 5050 to start the last ten races of the season, known as The Chase. At the conclusion of those ten races, the driver with the most points wins the championship. The Chase format has been both applauded and criticized. I'm one of the critics and believe The Chase should be scrapped and NASCAR should return to the old point system with a modification.

The Chase format makes it impossible to compare the performance of drivers today to ones from the past. Plus, it punishes drivers who consistently perform better than the others. The Chase is basically NASCAR welfare. By resetting the points after 26 races, it's like giving multiple "mulligans" or "do-overs" allowing drivers who had poor performances a chance to catch up. Prior to 2004, drivers didn't get those. If there were 5 or 6 races a driver didn't finish at all or finished poorly, their championship hopes were done. Not now. Have a bad day ?? That's o.k. "The guv'ment" a.k.a. NASCAR will "bail you out" by resetting the points after 26 races.

I saw a report somewhere today that states that Jimmie Johnson has won his first five championships quicker than Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt (the only drivers in NASCAR history to win seven championships) won theirs. Really ?? It depends on which point systems you're using - the old one or The Chase format. Consider the following :
  • In the first year of The Chase (2004), Kurt Busch won the championship. However, after 26 races and before the points were reset, Jeff Gordon had a big lead. If NASCAR had still been using the old point system, Jeff Gordon would have won it and Busch would have finished fourth some 247 points behind Gordon. Instead, Gordon finished third under The Chase format. It would have been his fifth title. 
  • After winning his first championship in 2006, Johnson won it again in 2007. However, if NASCAR had still been under the old system that Petty and Earnhardt won their's under, Jeff Gordon wins the title over Johnson by 353 points. Why ?? No point reset. It would have been Gordon's 6th title. Minus one for Johnson.
  • Kevin Harvick had a 200+ point lead after 26 races this year. However, due to The Chase "mulligan" format, he ultimately finished third behind Johnson by 41 points. Under the old point format, Harvick wins by at least 100. Johnson is minus another championship.
If you take those things into consideration, Johnson has two less championships. He would only have three - 2006, 2008, and 2009. Cale Yarborough would still maintain the NASCAR record of four consecutive championships, and there's no Jimmie Johnson to Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt comparison floating around. I mean, .... c'mon. Johnson's not in their league anyway. He couldn't tie their shoe laces. With The Chase format, NASCAR has basically changed history.

The only thing I've liked about NASCAR's new Chase points system is that it rewards drivers for winning. If I was NASCAR, I would revert back to the old point system that rewards, instead of punishing, drivers for consistent, quality performances. No resetting of the points. However, I would continue rewarding the drivers for winning. I would return to the old point structure - i.e. 175 points for winning, 170 for 2nd place, 165 for 3rd place, etc. Plus, I would continue giving the five bonus points for leading a lap and five more for leading the most laps in a race for a possible maximum total of 185 points per race. The one change I would make in order to reward them for winning is that a win would be worth 200 points instead of 175. So, the maximum point total that a driver could earn in a race would be 210 (200 for win + 5 point bonus for leading a lap + another 5 point bonus for leading the most laps).

In my opinion, NASCAR should revert back to the old point system adding the "tweak" I've suggested. It would provide the best of both worlds - rewarding consistency and wins. I've been a NASCAR fan for over 30 years but they need to do something. The races are getting boring and ticket sells are down. Consider this - how long would the NFL's ratings remain high if the same team won five consecutive Super Bowls ?? We know they would not as people would stop watching the games. Furthermore, ticket sales would fall as people stopped attending games. I know NASCAR fans that are bored and have stopped following the sport. They're bored. I believe if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Unfortunately, NASCAR made the mistake of fixing something that wasn't broke. They should have just tweaked it a little, as I've suggested. Instead, they fixed it until it was broke !!
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1 comment:

The Second Chance Sheepdog said...

NOTE TO MY READERS - when this blog post hit yesterday, it contained typos and other errors. For some reason, when I corrected these during proofreading, Blogger did not save the corrections. I apologize for that. The corrections are now posted. I hope you will re-read the post. It's a much better read, now. Once again, I apologize.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

The Sheepdog