Friday, July 2, 2010

How much change does NASCAR need?

The Sprint Cup series Chase format is, once again, under review by NASCAR.

Stop me if you've heard this before.

Clamoring for some kind of (pardon the pun), jump-start to TV ratings, NASCAR Chairman Brian France brought up the subject in Daytona on Friday.

"We want to make sure [the Chase] is giving us the biggest impact moments it was designed to do. Everything, to us, means pushing the winning envelope to mean what it needs to mean in our sport. We're happy with the Chase, [but] if we can enhance it in a pretty significant way, we may do that."

That kind of talk prompted driver Denny Hamlin to hit his Twitter page with a couple of blasts.

"Why do we keep wanting to change chase format, bc 1 guy has won 4 in a row?? i mean damn he deserved it," followed by, "if we haven't noticed already... the more we change stuff the lower the ratings get."

For a format that was introduced in 2004, it has undergone a few facelifts to try and make it more fan friendly, however, I have to side with Hamlin on this one. The more change that is introduced, the more confusion you throw at your fan base.

Perhaps, NASCAR is watching what has taken place in the NBA and NHL finals, where the LA Lakers won in 7 games, and the Chicago Blackhawks won in 6. A pair of tremendous series, filled with action and drama. NASCAR isn't about 7 game, head-to-head series. It's about week in and week out racing, being consistent, and winning races (or should be, anyway).

Over the history of the Chase, 2 bad races in the final 10 for a contender equals disaster. That makes the Chase format viable. Consistency is rewarded. Good finishes are rewarded. Wins could be rewarded more, but if you are running up front, your chances of remaining in the Chase are quite good. Bad luck is a part of racing. Getting caught up in someone else's mistake happens in the Daytona 500 (race #1), as it does in Richmond (race #26). Why should the Chase format become something that is outside of the normalcy of the Series?

Is it time for NASCAR to consider going back to the good old fashioned "gather your points during the year, add 'em up, and crown a champ" method? Maybe. Sometimes, simplicity is the best answer.

Mike Solarte

1 comment:

Jason Brown said...

Perhaps NASCAR should also consider that the time of the year the Chase happens if the fall... when fans are more interested in college and pro football and maybe the baseball playoffs.