Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reaction to Chase Changes

On Thursday, NASCAR announced their not-so-secret changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  And I don't agree with the direction they're going.

Before I get into the good and the bad of the new system, be sure to check out my story on CLNS Radio to get a better feel for what the new system is. 

After taking a look at the new system, there are some things that I like about it. The idea that a driver must win to get into the Chase is a great idea. This is a good way to place more importance on winning in the sport. Now most people have a chance to get into the Chase, especially when it comes to the restrictor plate tracks. 

Another part of the new format that I like is the eliminations. This should keep the Chase exciting. This is nothing really new though, because it happens anyway. At least half the field is basically eliminated by the time the Chase is halfway over, so this will just solidify the fact that only a few drivers will fight for the championship. 

The part I most disagree with is the winner-take-all finale. I get it, they want that "Game 7" moment. They want another Carl Edwards vs. Tony Stewart showdown. The problem with this thinking is that these moments can't be fabricated. 

These moments are exciting because they don't happen that often. That's what makes them special. With this new format, NASCAR is making sure the finales are exciting, but they are also making sure that these moments are no longer special. 

With the exciting finale, NASCAR is trying to make itself like other sports, but in doing so, they are just solidifying the fact that they are unlike any other sport. And that's okay.

NASCAR needs to stop trying to be like stick-and-ball sports and focus on making its product better.  Even after saying all this, I'm sure it will be exciting and most fans will like the changes.  

Many people believe that this change was made to keep Jimmie Johnson from winning the championship, but I still think he will tie and pass Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Johnson is just that good, and no matter the format he is one of the best drivers ever.

And I have to laugh, because this new format is supposed to foster more competition and more winners in the Chase.  If this system had been in place last year, however, the winless Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have won the championship.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have won the championship last year under this new format. (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
No one actually knows what the new system will be like, or how it will play out.  We'll all find out in a few more weeks, when the Daytona 500 kicks off the NASCAR season.

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