NASCAR's new point system is a mockery to professional sports. It doesn't matter if the best team wins the championship. Just as long as it's exciting.
NASCAR announced on Thursday, the final day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour, that they have made a complete overhaul of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase format. NASCAR says the new system is simple.
The changes include an expansion of the Chase field to 16 drivers. How NASCAR will determine the 16 drivers is that if you win a race in the first 26 races of the season you are virtually locked into the Chase. When you get into the Chase, it has three rounds eliminating four drivers each of the three rounds. Prior to each round, promptly named the Challenger Round, the Contender Round and the Eliminator Round, the points will reset leaving the next three races just as important as the last three were. Each round is three races and the bottom four drivers of each round are eliminated, unless you win a race which would advance you if won in that round. The system allows four drivers to have a shot at the final race of the season, which in the 2014 season, is the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the final race all four drivers will compete for the championship with the highest finishing driver taking the Championship crown.
Confused? You shouldn't be. Brian France says it's the simplest system NASCAR has had yet. Yet, all I've see are how confused people are and how people just totally don't understand the system. There are few real question marks in looking deep into the system.
The first thing is there is no incentive for drivers to win more than one race. For example, the driver who wins February's Daytona 500 is automatically locked into the Chase field. That gives that particular team 25 races to get prepared for the last ten. How that team goes about getting prepared is different among different drivers and teams. Many teams could potentially test in those 25 races and be well prepared for the Chase. Is that really what we want to see? A team who won the Daytona 500 using experimental setups until it really counts? It's a mockery to professional sports.
NASCAR loves to compare itself to stick and ball sports. Let me tell you right now. NASCAR is not a stick and ball sport. Never has and never will be. The fact that NASCAR compares itself to them is silly. However, lets take a moment and compare this to stick and ball sports.
Lets say it's week one of the NFL Season. The Denver Broncos are playing the Houston Texans. The Broncos are 17 point favorites and if Houston beats this heavily favored team they will make the playoffs because they have beaten the heavily favored Broncos who are the defending AFC Champions. Houston finds a way to win pulling off an upset in their own building. If this was a NASCAR points system the Texans would make the playoffs on their sole win against the Broncos. It doesn't matter if they lost the remaining 15 games on the schedule. They beat the defending AFC Champions so that grants them access into the playoffs.
Kind of seems ridiculous right? Yet that's what we're living with in NASCAR. To expand on the example because the Texans won that game and the Kansas City Chiefs lost two games to the Broncos in the regular season, yet had nine wins. But because the Chiefs didn't beat the best of the best they failed to make the playoffs at nine wins. Houston gets in with one win but Kansas City doesn't at nine. Can you see the NFL losing fans after that? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would get slammed for making such a dumb system.
It's mind-boggling to think that the regular season doesn't matter at all. There are so many racetracks that will be hurt by this and it will affect the racing on the racetrack drastically. Lets say it's Jimmie Johnson who wins the 56th annual Daytona 500. Congratulations Mr. Johnson. You have made the Chase for the tenth consecutive season. Johnson is the first Hendrick Motorsports driver in the Chase. The #48 team can do as they please. They can test, run hard or just have a little fun during the races. It really doesn't matter. Hell if it comes down to late in the regular season that team could even move over and let a teammate slide by for a win locking his teammate into the Chase. How is NASCAR going to police that? Owners can do as they please and get all their sponsors locked in if they are in a case similar to Johnson's. I don't blame the owners one bit. They're playing by the rules, they're playing by the flawed system that's in place.
Then comes the winner take all championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four teams have a shot at winning the championship at Homestead. For an example in this theory Joe Gibbs Racing has two of his three cars with a shot at winning the championship. The other car, Matt Kenseth, is on the outside looking in for the event. Kenseth's job for the race is strictly don't let the other two cars pass you. Block, drive dirty, do whatever needs to be done to guarantee a Joe Gibbs Racing car wins the championship.
Not only that, can anyone really see NASCAR taking a win away from a team/driver if they cheat in the final race? One of the biggest cheating scandals in NASCAR history goes back to October of 1983 in which Richard Petty's car was found to have an engine that was big after winning the Miller Lite 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR docked him 104 points and $25k. Yet Petty, who won his 198th career race that afternoon, kept the win as per protocol in NASCAR.
Only once in the modern day history has NASCAR ever stripped a win away from a driver who won a race in the Sprint Cup Series. That dates back to the 1991 Budweiser at the Glen where Ricky Rudd spun out Davey Allison in the closing stages. Rudd was coming to the checkered flag as the leader and received the black flag instead of the checkered flag. Allison, meanwhile received the checkered flag winning the race, in an unbelievable moment.
Whether or not you were on Rudd's side or Allison's side NASCAR did something remarkable. They took the victory away from Ricky Rudd. However, since then NASCAR has never taken the win away from anyone in the Cup Series. Can you imagine the champion celebrating in victory lane with the trophy doing all the interviews on ESPN as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion only to come out Monday and say that someone else was the champion due to an illegal part? I couldn't. It would be an absolute disaster and embarrassment to the sport.
Yet this is the system NASCAR wants to go forward with? This is the system how NASCAR will determine their "champion" for the next ten years? A champion is suppose to be a sports best team, NASCAR doesn't seem to care about that. They just want a crazy, wild, exciting race at Homestead. They don't care if the best team wins the championship.
That, to me is a mockery to professional sports.
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