Mixed Reaction Greets Big NASCAR Changes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Most drivers and team owners reacted positively to NASCAR’s change in its Chase format for 2014, but there were still those who showed little enthusiasm, preferring to take a wait-and-see approach.
Denny Hamlin saw the new format as a way a person could miss a race due to a concussion and still contend for the championship, but 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski voiced concern about team orders. Still, he said he realized a sport must change in order to grow.
“All of the sports world has some interesting conflicts and hurdles, quite frankly, to overcome,” Keselowski said. “If we stay stagnant as a sport, none of us are going to have any jobs. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. We can always argue about what’s the proper way to grow, but as long as we can acknowledge the sport has to change, adapt, evolve to all the changing demands, I think we can find common ground that way.”
Carl Edwards noted the change in the Chase format now made it impossible to compare the sport’s different eras.
“It doesn’t change the accomplishments of anyone in any other system,” Edwards continued. “If you applied this system to the past you would have different outcomes, but also people raced differently.
“The worst thing that could happen would be a guy have an awesome season, win 10 or 15 regular season races. He could win the first six Chase races, have a blown engine in the seventh one, run OK in the eighth and ninth and not be in the race at Homestead in the championship hunt. He could go dominate the race at Homestead, put on a great performance and there’s a guy who’s won seven Chase races, standing in victory lane and he’s not your champion. That would be, I think, confusing to people.”
Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty won his titles under several different point formats, none of which involved a playoff system. Instead, they all rewarded a driver’s year-long performance.
“When you get down to a championship deal, I think we’ve won the championship five different ways to count the points,” Petty said. “You get down now and you’re going to run one race and we have a champion? It’s kinda hard for me to envision that because we always had to run all year and then you had an all-year champion. The way it’s going to be now you’re going to have a one-race champion. So I don’t know how that’s going to go over.”
The Chase format change announced Thursday by NASCAR is the fourth amendment to the Chase in the last 10 years, and Edwards hopes it’s the last one for a while.
“I hope we stick with it for a long time, because that gives it credibility,” Edwards noted.
Even though the Chase format changes the 2014 schedule remains the same and that’s something with which Kyle Busch doesn’t agree. He thinks the season finale should move to a different track each year, just as the Super Bowl moves around the country. He also didn’t feel his input on the Chase format change was sought by NASCAR.
“I didn’t get a phone call. I don’t know how many other drivers were called,” Busch said. “They already have their mind made up after they talk with the 12 or 14 people in their circle.”
NASCAR did note it was Kevin Harvick who told them they needed to let the drivers in fifth through 16th in the Chase standings continue to contend for a points position after they had been eliminated from the title battle.
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