Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage is pleased with the format changed introduced by NASCAR Thursday in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
TMS hosts the eighth race in the Chase, which this year with be the Nov. 2 AAA Texas 500. That race will fall into the Eliminator Round of the Chase, which is where eight of the initial 16 Chase drivers will have a chance at the title.
The Texas race has always been pivotal to the championship and Gossage doesn’t think the new format will change that.
"I think it will help the AAA Texas 500 in that by then you are getting down to it," Gossage said. "There are eight drivers at that point that will have a shot at winning the championship. The next race – when you go down to Phoenix – it’s going to be a cutoff race so if you bobble here or if you have an off race – a cut tire, blown engine, some pit miscue – you may have well blown your 2014 season chances. This (AAA Texas 500) has been a critical race, the race that really determined the championship a few years ago. I think with this, the pressure is going to be even greater. We are going to see the champions rise to the top and the pretenders fall by the wayside."
The first TMS race of the year, the April 6 Texas 500, could also be crucial under the new format. That’s because a win in one of the first 26 races all but guarantees a driver a spot in the new 16-driver Chase.
Gossage applauded the changes by NASCAR.
"The thing that NASCAR did with this is they made sure every single race counts," Gossage said. "You are no longer racing for a big, long-term picture; you are racing for today and that is what fans want to see. They want to come to a race and know that they are seeing the drivers and their teams doing the very best, lap after lap, race after race and that this race today matters more than anything else going on. They are not worried about next week. They aren’t looking toward the end of the season. They are worried about today because if you win today you are in the Chase."
The Chase will be divided into four segments this year. The first three races, known as the Challenger Round, will be used to cut the field from 16 drivers to 12. The next three Chase races, known as the Counter Round, cuts it from 12 to eight. The fall TMS race falls into the three-race Eliminator Round. Following the Phoenix race, four drivers will have a shot at the title in Homestead.