Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chasing the Change

There’s an old saying: “Start as you mean to go on.” It’s something I’ve often tried to live by when a new beginning presents itself, and my first post at Skirts and Scuffs is no different. As I’m a person who generally has definite opinions, not the least of which is about NASCAR, it seems only fitting I offer my first post with regard to a topic that has been percolating in my brain for the last week or so.

As the recent S&S post Let’s Race to the Chase alludes, many NASCAR eyes are focused on the last set of races of the season, by which the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cut champion will be crowned. For over 50+ years, the Cup champion was determined by a season’s worth of points accumulation. Every race was of equal value for every team, especially if you planned to be on stage at the awards banquet at the end of the season. “The Chase”, often referred to as NASCAR’s playoffs, is a comparatively new invention, with this being its 7th year. Whether NASCAR needs The Chase is really a rhetorical debate. It’s here, and it is what it is. However, suggest there needs to be some changes in The Chase, and you will receive a wealth of opinions and conjecture.

Recently as last week, it was reported the powers that be at NASCAR held meetings that included owners and drivers regarding potential changes regarding The Chase. And, frankly, I couldn’t be happier. There are some serious design flaws with regard to the current system. Some speculation has been made that the number of drivers to make the cutoff will be raised to 15 or lowered to 10. Even further ideas have placed half the Chase field being eliminated at the halfway point.

I believe the root of the ‘problem’, if you will, is the scoring itself. Granted, Sprint Cup isn’t like traditional ball games, but in very few incidences does a team carry its season record into the playoffs. Once you make the initial cut, everyone starts from the same point. Everyone in the playoffs has an equal chance of coming out on top. Unless NASCAR decides to institute something similar, there isn’t much mathematical reason to have more than 5 or 6 drivers in The Chase. With current scoring, the team starting in the #12 spot has more of a chance of being burned by Ricky Bobby’s invisible fire than actually winning the championship. And, if only 10 men get to stand on the stage at the Waldorf Astoria, there’s no sense in having 12 teams make The Chase. Of course, there’s been plenty of discussion about corporate NASCAR’s sense, or lack thereof, as well.

So, whether it’s 5 or 12 or 15 drivers, full Chase, half Chase, with Junior or without Junior (and yes, there’s speculation that the current wave of changes is to ensure Jr.’s Chase participation – preposterous!), the heart of the matter is the system itself. I’m sure there are some opinions who would say I suggest NASCAR cut off their nose in spite of their face. Frankly, this is one face that could use a great deal of rhinoplasty.

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