By: Al Pearce on March 26, 2014
It is ironic: NASCAR insists it would like winning to indicate far more in the Cup Series, but it even now does not use a winners-only playoff technique to figure out 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. Commencing this yr, the Chase field includes sixteen drivers: the 15 winningest standard-season drivers and the factors 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 field.
If there are much more than sixteen winners, only the highest-ranked 16 make the Chase. 4 drivers are then eradicated following each and every 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 among people 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, think about: Making use of this year’;s Chase format, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have been final year’;s winless champion.
He would have created the sixteen-driver area since he was amongst the 5 highest-rated winless drivers soon after Richmond. (Only eleven eligible drivers had won by then.) Based on last year’;s Chase finishes, he would have survived the very first cut right after Dover, the 2nd cut soon after Talladega and the third minimize right 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 final year’;s Nationwide Series champ. But these championships weren’;t earned in a playoff format—rather, by factors paid constantly during the total season. NASCAR launched the Chase in 2004 to hold anyone from clinching the Cup before the final race, as Jeff Gordon did most just lately in 2001.
But NASCAR could promise itself no winless Sprint Cup champion by shifting the Chase format nevertheless once more. Why not try this?
Irrespective of how numerous qualify, only winners via the very first 26 races make the Chase. Whether or not it’;s 5 or 8 or 12 or 18 winners, they all advance. The Chase has featured 10, 12 and 13 drivers in recent many years, so why not leave the grid open-ended for a adjust? 4 winless drivers qualified for last year’;s Chase and 4 winning drivers did not. That cheapens winning’;s value.
Underneath our plan, winning turns into even much more essential once the 10-race playoff begins. Chase drivers should win during the first 9 races to be eligible to win the Cup at Homestead. If 9 diverse Chase drivers have won by then, they all advance. If just 2 or 3 have, individuals couple of advance. Worst-case scenario: If only one particular Chase driver wins in the course of the initial 9 races (unlikely), he will get to celebrate a week early. (Get note: It truly is occurred before, and the sun nevertheless came up the subsequent day.)
The best-finishing Chase driver at Homestead is the champion, and absolutely everyone else settles into the ultimate standings based on how a lot of races they won during the season. (If there are ties behind the champion, use the 2nd-, third-, 4th-, and so forth.-place finishes.) The excellent information is that in some form or trend, all are winners. And isn’;t that what this championship things is all about?
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