Monday, November 10, 2014

The flaws of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup

Now I'm writing about a series I am not so familiar with. NASCAR, I mean. But I'll write anyway, sometimes it's easier for an outsider to see flaws (or an outsider just can't see why they really aren't flaws).

The Chase for the Sprint Cup will get its conclusion next Sunday at Homestead-Miami. Or should I rather call it the Sprint for the Chase Cup as after 26 races, the title is decided in the last ten races. Anyway, I spotted this interesting statistic:

Qualified for the Championship round:
Logano - 5 wins - 15 times in top 5
Harvick - 4 wins - 13 times in top 5
Hamlin - 1 wins - 7 times in top 5
Newman - 0 wins - 4 times in top 5

Eliminated after the Eliminator round:
Keselowski - 6 wins - 16 times in top 5
Gordon - 4 wins - 14 times in top 5
Edwards - 2 wins - 7 times in top 5
Kenseth - 0 wins - 13 times in top 5

So, it seems like the eliminated drivers form a stronger lineup than the Championship round lineup. I think that highlights the biggest flaw of the current Chase system. It's just crazy that after 26 races, the advancing drivers are decided in three-race elimination rounds, and in the end, the title is decided in one race. I'm not saying the Chase is a bad system; I rather think it could be a great system. Extending the title battle to the last race and eliminating four drivers after every third race makes the end of the season exciting and keeps the title battle more open. It may not be the fairest system but it's balancing between having a fair and an entertaining system. That's why team sports have the playoffs and so has the PGA Tour, too, and those systems work.

I think the Chase system should reward the entire season's success more. Somebody with Gordon's season shouldn't be out of the title contention while Newman is in the final four with no wins. So, instead of resetting all drivers' points to the same amount between the elimination rounds, don't reset them or reset them so that the best drivers of the season have a significant advantage but even the last qualifier has a chance to win the title.

Also, I don't like how the title is decided in the final race. While winning the title by finishing 7th with even 11th place being enough while the main rival wins would be anticlimatic, winning the title just by finishing ahead of the other contenders doesn't feel right if they've had a better season until then. Have it like in the previous elimination rounds, you're through if you win, otherwise points decide.

So basically, give more importance for the entire season's performances. For example, don't reset the points but allow advancing to the next elimination round and winning the title by winning a race if a driver doesn't otherwise have enough points for that. That kind of a system would reward having a great season but would also reward winning.

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