Did you watch the race Sunday? If you did, you’re in select company. It was pretty sad that a place like Richmond International Raceway couldn’t draw a better crowd than it got. It should have been a sell out. This isn’t one of those oft-criticized “cookie cutter” tracks. This is one of NASCAR’s “classic” short tracks. Regardless of the potential for good racing in NASCAR’s heartland, the attendance was pretty sad.
Day after day, folks like your truly ponder the future of racing, and opine what can be done with respect to fixing NASCAR. Many of the proposed fixes are seismic and expensive. Making changes to the tracks and making changes to the car- while perhaps good ideas- are potentially expensive. Now, while no one in this sport is starving, changes to the car and changes to the track (or changes of venue) are time consuming, and eat away at money that needs to be spent on putting on the show, and paying those that put it one.
Sometimes- the best fix is the easiest one. This is what is proposed today. Fixing NASCAR in one simple step is as easy as giving the fans one major thing their asking for. The best part of it is, it’s inexpensive, and it communicates a ton from the governing body in terms of responding to its supporters in a meaningful way.
It’s time to ditch the playoff format. Let’s return NASCAR to a classic points system.
A vast majority of fans have hated with a visceral passion the many iterations of NASCAR’s playoff format since the inception of the Chase back in 2004. No matter the revision, none have been met with anything that has been described as widespread support. It’s not hard to understand why it was tried. Conceivably, you can wind up with a winless or a one win champion. But think about it: if a racer accomplished that, a la Benny Parsons in 1973, Bill Rexford in 1950 or Matt Kenseth in 2003, they got there with an unmatched consistency.
You know what’s funny? If you look at the so-called “Chase Era,” ONLY ONE would have won a championship under the old system. That was in 2011 with Carl Edwards. In 2004, Jeff Gordon would have won his 5th championship with five wins. The future Hall of Famer would have won a sixth in 2007 with six victories, and a record-tying seventh in 2014, using the newer points system without the Chase. By the way, he had four wins.
Using the same logic, Carl Edwards would have won two titles (instead of none), and Kevin Harvick would have won three, instead of one. Jimmie Johnson would STILL have multiple championships, but would have three and not seven. For you stat geeks, check this out at Jayski.com. Here’s another perspective from Auto Week.com.
How hard could it really be, especially if NASCAR’s leadership came humbly before the fan base, and said, “We tried nine ways to Sunday to create a playoff format to create excitement. While a noble pursuit, you, the fan have spoken. You hate it. We’re changing back to the points system used between 1975 and 2003.”
After all the craziness seen between 2004 and now, it would be ONE MORE CHANGE with a fan base that has grown weary of it. Yet, while fixing NASCAR in this way would provide some short-term pain, the long term gain would be tremendous.