Leave It to NASCAR to Complicate a Simple Championship System
When NASCAR changed the points system in 2011 to where the points awarded were the reversed of the amount of cars in the line-up, it was easy. Fans praised the simple way it was awarded, how bonus points were added, and how it set up the Chase. Even though fans still did not like the Chase as a whole, even the addition of the two "Wild Card" spots gave the emphasis on winning.
In three years of that setup, the top tier series saw three different championship hunts. Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards tied for the title that first year, with wins determining the champion. A year later, it was early wins and strong finishes that allowed Brad Keselowski to get his first title.
Just a year ago, the two top drivers the entire season did battle right down to the final laps at Homestead, with Jimmie Johnson taking his sixth championship.
So why is NASCAR deciding to complicate the Chase? They say it's to add that winner-take-all idea to the final race, with the best finish winning the championship. But, at the same time, they also took the entire Chase and made it into three separate Chases. Four resets, four more drivers added, and an "automatic pass" if a Chase driver wins a Chase race in any of the rounds.
All NASCAR has done is take what was a simple concept of race to win, but award consistency as well, and made it more complicated, and even more confusing.
Here's the issue, while a win automatically would qualify a driver for the Chase, that means that some teams that don't have the consistency in their weekly runs would end up going after a title that maybe they aren't prepared to race for. A team could have it's strength be the restrictor plate tracks, but after being eliminated in the first three races, could not matter.
The only aspect of the reworked 2014 "Chase Grid" that is carried over from the previous setup is that entering the first round, all drivers have 2,000 points with three bonus points added for each win.
After that, nothing is the same.
This means more confusion with each reset, more controversy as to why it was changed, and more importantly more hatred of the Chase. Sure, the way the champion is determined has changed a couple times since it's inception in 2004, but each one had a simple setup and determined the rightful champion, whether it was during a 10-race stretch or if the champion was that strong all season.
The new system just makes it complicated with the resets after three rounds, and not just for those that move on, but also the ones that are eliminated. It just seems like while NASCAR wants to create more excitement, they fail to realize that in doing so they just made fans more angry.
Brian France, Mike Helton, and everyone else in NASCAR created a lot of Chase controversy a year ago by adding a 13th driver.
It's unknown how much controversy and buzz this change will make.