NASCAR should be cautious in changing the Chase

BY Larry McReynolds • July 19, 2010

As you have probably heard, NASCAR is flirting with a lot of changes right now. It is taking a hard look at things. One of those things is the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

When it comes to the Chase, I agree with what Darrell Waltrip said: “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” I don’t think we need to complicate this thing. Sometimes when you complicate things, the fans lose interest. It’s just human nature because if you don’t understand it, you lose interest.

So I am in favor of a simple format. Now there are two things I hope NASCAR doesn’t do to the Chase. First, I hope officials don’t add any more teams. Let’s face it, the current 12 slots encompass over a fourth of our field. The other thing is, I hope they don’t add any more races. Currently the Chase has a 10-race format. I think that is already too many. I would like to see the Chase reduced to six or eight races.

One of the things that I like that NASCAR is considering is a possible elimination component. In addition, I still maintain that the guys in the Chase need their own point system. Keep them tight. In a perfect world, they get to the last race of the year and have no idea who the champion is going to be.

I just think it is very anticlimactic when a team and driver go to the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway knowing, for example, that they only have to finish 20th or better to win the championship. Where is the excitement in that? It’s like telling one of the teams in the Super Bowl, just score two touchdowns and you are the winner, no matter what the other team does. That’s the excitement, anticipation and drama of the Super Bowl. You have no idea who is going to win it going in. That’s where we need to get to with the Chase.

I like the tracks we go to now in the Chase, but again I just think there are too many races in the segment. Of course, there is always that debate about whether there should be a road-course race in the Chase. Personally, I question that because we only have two road-course races the entire season.

The schedule is another area where I am hoping NASCAR takes a very hard look. Everyone knows you can never lay out a perfect schedule based on weather patterns. It just won’t happen. You can, however, look at weather trends and make some adjustments based on that.

For instance, it has been really neat that we race in Daytona in the evening for the July 4 holiday. The problem, however, is we always fight rain. There’s a pattern there. The same holds true for Martinsville Speedway. Trying to go to Martinsville in late March is hideous when it comes to the weather patterns.

So I hope they take our 38 races, which includes the two non-point events, and then take a calendar and a listing of weather trends for all locations and lay it on the table. From that information, take a look at what makes the most sense of where to race. Where do we not normally see cold, rainy and windy weather?

Again, there is no perfect world, but I sure think we could do a better job at it. We know the window for tracks in the Northeast and the Midwest is much smaller. There are just places we go to where we fight the elements that maybe if we shifted some dates around, we wouldn’t always have that same battle.

Again, I don’t care what tracks are on the yearly schedule or even on the Chase schedule. I just wish we would do a better job of looking at the weather trends and laying out a race schedule based on that.


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