NASCAR Tweaks Chase Format…Again
Well, I will give the NASCAR governing body credit for this at least...they're quick to action when issues arise. Let's rewind to the SpinGate controversy surrounding the final 2013 regular season race at Richmond. After immediate outcry from fans and some Sprint Cup Racing teams, NASCAR quickly came down hard on Michael Waltrip Racing. The result, Martin Truex was booted out of the 12th and final Chase spot, replaced by Ryan Newman. Jeff Gordon was also quickly added to the Chase roster as an unprecedented 13th participant. The drama sure churned up interest and dispute amongst the sport's loyalists.
Now, as we get set to embark on the 2014 race season, and Daytona's Budweiser Speedweeks just over two weeks away, NASCAR has changed their championship format, yet again. The "NASCAR Chase Grid" as it will now be known as, will feature 16 drivers. Every three Chase races will see the elimination of four drivers, based upon championship points, until the field is whittled down to just four championship contenders for the final race at Homestead.
NASCAR is obviously trying to tweak their championship format to be as exciting as those we see with the ball and stick sports...the same B&S sports that see dramatic TV ratings and revenue results each year. There is no doubt that NASCAR is scurrying to figure out how to attract a new fanbase. But, the purists from "The Ol' Boys Club" are, again, none too happy about change. "Why not go back to the old school way? Determine a champ by his or hers point accumulation throughout the entire season." I can definitely see their side. After all, it's much less nerve-racking to know your favorite driver won't blow his or her chances by some sort of car failure in a single race...engine issues, blown tire, etc. However, the casual fan will not be drawn to their TV set or local track with such an archaic set up. I'm not saying I support the latest move. But, I do love the sport, the science involved, and the endurance factors that drivers and crews must overcome during the 9 month stretch. I'm willing to give it a shot, and will reserve judgment until the end of the trial run...or, when ever Tony Stewart gets f'ed by the new rules!!! 14!!!!!!!!!!