By: Al Pearce on March 26, 2014
LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC – Jimmie Johnson has not yet won a race in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, but could even now proceed his championship reign.
It truly is ironic: NASCAR insists it needs winning to indicate much more in the Cup Series, but it still does not use a winners-only playoff system to decide its champion. A winless driver winning the Cup is supposedly unfathomable, but the likelihood of it reveals the new Chase for the Championship format’;s potential inconsistencies. Beginning this 12 months, the Chase field includes sixteen drivers: the 15 winningest normal-season drivers and the points leader—if he or she is winless—through Richmond in September. If there are fewer than 15 winners, the highest-ranked winless drivers fill out the discipline.
If there are more than sixteen winners, only the highest-ranked sixteen make the Chase. 4 drivers are then eliminated soon after every single 3 races in the course of the 10-race Chase, leaving just 4 eligible for the Cup in November’;s Homestead finale. The highest finisher amongst individuals 4 is the 2014 champion … even if that driver hasn’;t won a race.
Amusingly, although odds are slim a winless driver will declare the Cup, consider: Employing this year’;s Chase format, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have been last year’;s winless champion.
He would have created the sixteen-driver area due to the fact he was amid the 5 highest-rated winless drivers right after Richmond. (Only eleven eligible drivers had won by then.) Based mostly on last year’;s Chase finishes, he would have survived the initial cut soon after Dover, the 2nd cut right after Talladega and the third reduce after Phoenix. He completed third at Homestead, beating his 3 would-have-been championship rivals in the finale, which would have sent Junior Nation on a monthlong bender.
FYI: The late Bill Rexford in 1950, Ned Jarrett in 1961, the late Benny Parsons in 1973 and Matt Kenseth in 2003 are Cup’;s only one particular-win champions Austin Dillon was winless as last year’;s Nationwide Series champ. But these championships weren’;t earned in a playoff format—rather, by points paid constantly throughout the full season. NASCAR introduced the Chase in 2004 to hold any person from clinching the Cup ahead of the last race, as Jeff Gordon did most not too long ago in 2001.
But NASCAR could guarantee itself no winless Sprint Cup champion by changing the Chase format yet once again. Why not try out this?
Regardless of how a lot of qualify, only winners via the first 26 races make the Chase. Whether or not it really is 5 or 8 or twelve or 18 winners, they all advance. The Chase has featured 10, twelve and 13 drivers in recent many years, so why not depart the grid open-ended for a alter? 4 winless drivers experienced for final year’;s Chase and 4 winning drivers didn’;t. That cheapens winning’;s worth.
Beneath our program, winning gets to be even a lot more important once the 10-race playoff starts. Chase drivers have to win throughout the first 9 races to be eligible to win the Cup at Homestead. If 9 different Chase drivers have won by then, they all advance. If just 2 or 3 have, people handful of advance. Worst-case situation: If only 1 Chase driver wins for the duration of the very first 9 races (unlikely), he gets to celebrate a week early. (Consider note: It’;s took place just before, and the sun nevertheless came up the up coming day.)
The very best-finishing Chase driver at Homestead is the champion, and absolutely everyone else settles into the final standings based mostly on how several races they won during the season. (If there are ties behind the champion, use the 2nd-, third-, 4th-, and so forth.-place finishes.) The very good information is that in some form or style, all are winners. And isn’;t that what this championship stuff is all about?
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