From this fan’s view, the race at Richmond showed why the addition of the Chase format has added a great dimension to the Nascar Championship.
No matter how you look at it, The Chase makes the end of the season run for the Sprint Cup Championship much more exciting and dramatic. I have heard a lot of conversation on how good, or bad, the Chase is for the fans and Nascar over the few last weeks and, I’m sorry, but I just have to add my two cents.
I know there will be those that disagree with me on this, but let’s take a look at the obvious facts…
If, (and I stress the word “if” once again), we went back to the old way of doing things, we notice before the race in Richmond, Tony Stewart was leading the points by 237 points over Jeff Gordon, was 290 ahead of Jimmy Johnson and 398 ahead of Denny Hamlin. Looking further at the list showed Carl Edwards next in line at 532 points behind Stewart and from there it just got worse.
Looking at that information tells me the competition for the Cup might have been fairly interesting between the top three but the rest of the top fourteen were pretty much out of contention. With a lead like Tony had on the field, it was a pretty sure bet he would have continued to walk away with the Championship. The Chase changed all that and, this year in particular, made the whole process even more interesting than in the past few years.
Why is this year so different? Just look at how important this last race was to spots 11 -14. Look at how it affected Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and Kyle Bush. Look at the fact of Kyle Bush not making the Chase even though he won four races this year.
Even further, look at how almost completely the standings were mixed up AFTER the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 all because of the tweak of adding bonus points last year for every win!
Mark Martin moved up 9 spots to first place, Tony Stewart back one to second, Jimmy Johnson and Denny Hamlin retained their positions of 3rd and 4th and Kasey Kahne moved up one more to 5th. Jeff Gordon lost four spots back to 6th, Kurt Bush stayed in 7th, Brian Vickers moved up 5 spots from 13th to 8th and Carl Edwards lost 4 spots ending up in 9th. (Now, bear with me for just a little bit longer); Ryan Newman lost one spot moving to 10th, Juan Montoya lost 3 back to 11th and Greg Biffle lost 1 spot ending up in the 12th and final spot for the Chase. Matt Kenseth lost 2 spots and Kyle Bush gained 1 and neither one of them made the Chase.
If that isn’t mixing up the standings after just one weekend of racing, I don’t know what is…
Kyle Bush winning 4 races and not making the Chase has been one of the hot topics following Saturday night’s race with several saying Nascar should change the rules about those that can make the Chase. The ones that are in support of that say it just isn’t fair for someone to win four or more races and not make the Chase.
As a fan, I say they should leave the way the Chase is decided alone. Right now, there is no reason to make a change just to include winners of races or possibly expand the number of those allowed in the Chase. If someone wins a bunch of races during the first 26 races of the season and yet doesn’t qualify for the Chase should not make any difference. Nascar has always been about consistency and offering a free ticket into the top 12 for “just winning” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. The winner of the Championship should be the one that consistently finishes at or near the front most every week and has the points to show for it, not just the most wins.
See ya next time…
© September 16, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman