Woody: Asterisks For Jimmie? That’s Asinine
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
The only thing more predictable than Jimmie Johnson’s championship stretch run was the afterburner whine of a certain segment of fans who continue to chastise the Chase.
Some even suggest putting an asterisk beside each of Johnson’s four titles, as well as the championships won by Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart under the Chase format.
What a bunch of baloney.
Would they put asterisks beside a couple of Richard Petty’s titles which were won under a different points system that came along later?
From the very start – from the day that Busch was crowned the inaugural Chase champion – critics have been calculating who would have won the title under the old points system. By their calculations it was usually someone other than the Chase champ.
I repeat: What a bunch of nonsense.
That’s like trying to calculate how many points a college basketball player in the old days would have scored if the three-point shot had been in effect. It can’t be done because there’s no way to know if how many three-pointers the player might have attempted – and how many he might have made.
A high-scoring player back then might have scored FEWER points under the three-pointer rule because he might have put up more long shots and missed.
The same goes for the NASCAR points system. Nobody can calculate how many points a driver would have accumulated under the old system because there’s no way to know how that driver would have raced. Like a basketball player prior to the three-point shot, a driver might actually have scored FEWER points because he might have raced differently.
If the Chase has been in place during Petty’s heyday, would he have won more than seven championships? Fewer than seven? The same?
There’s no way to know. Critics of the Chase can melt their calculators trying to tabulate what might have been, and they still will never know.
All we know with absolute certainty is that for the past six seasons every driver knew about the Chase going into the season.
Every driver was aware of how it worked.
Every driver arrived at Daytona for the season opener with the same number of points – zero – and they all knew that they had 26 races in which to make the Chase.
So how does the Chase favor any particular driver?
It’s also a bunch of bunk to continue to claim that the Chase renders the first 26 races irrelevant. That’s like saying the 16 games of the NFL regular season are irrelevant.
The Chase makes the first 26 races MORE important because they’re how a driver punches his ticket to the Chase.
And the old argument that if a driver doesn’t make the Chase his season is over is absurd. Jamie McMurray won a Chase race and got tons of attention for himself, his sponsor and his team.
Remember, if your favorite driver wasn’t in the top six – never mind the top 10 or 12 – under the old system, he wasn’t going to win the championship anyway. The Chase puts MORE drivers in championship contention.
Does the Chase guarantee fireworks and drama? No, unfortunately, it doesn’t. This year’s stretch run was as dull as dishwater as Johnson almost casually pulled away. But that’s not the Chase’s fault. Johnson – even despite his Texas hiccup — would have pulled away under the old points system.
At least the Chase created a dab of drama during the final races of the regular season as a half-dozen bubble boys fought for the final playoff spots.
I’m not sure what the answer is to NASCAR’s dull racing, but changing the points system won’t fix it. Increasingly boring racing is a legitimate gripe for fans and a continuing concern for NASCAR. But that’s no reason to lessen Jimmie Johnson’s amazing accomplishment.
He blew the competition away – and he would have done it regardless of how the points were tabulated.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments