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Mixed Reaction Greets Big NASCAR Changes

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 30 2014

Richard Petty is concerned by new Chase rules. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Erik J. Perel)

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.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 30 2014
5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • Fast Ford says:

    You all have missed the real reason for this new format. This will get Danica Patrick into the chase.

    LOL, Looks like NASCAR has gone Flat Line and the doctors only need to call the time of death now.

  • John Sturbin says:

    Interesting to see that Kyle Busch was not contacted for his input. Saw an interview clip on ESPN during which Busch _ who was not paraded before the media in his driving suit for the benefit of TV _ noted this change was designed top put more emphasis on drivers winning races.
    To which Busch asked, quite incredulously…how does he, or any driver, race any harder to get a win?

  • oldSCENEguy says:

    If NASCAR is looking for controversy to keep the attention on the sport of automobile racing, they have hit on a perfect plan. There will be major controversy from the very first race of 2014 right on down to Homestead. I believe this new format will do great damage to NASCAR. The fact that Junior would have been the champion in 2013 if this format had been used then is proof positive that it is simply another convoluted attempt to get a championship for the sports most popular driver. NASCAR has put themselves into the position of determining who wins races and who wins the championship because they will have to decide if the 2nd place car took out the first place car or was it “just racing”. They will have to decide when “team orders” call for one car letting another car pass for the win is illegal or “just racing”. These things will now be seen in every single race held in 2014. I think its going to be a real mess.

  • KYBOY says:

    Its not mixed with the fans! Social media dont lie.

  • sal says:

    Really, would any driver dare to disagree with Nascar? WE all know how they react to any negative public input from drivers, so I’m sure every driver just loves this new, one race makes you a champ idea.