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Woody: Let Us Partake In Some Of These Fine Whines

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 9 2009
There is plenty to celebrate when it comes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

There is plenty to celebrate when it comes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Larry Wood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Last week I noted the excitement and drama that the Chase for the Sprint Cup brings to what would otherwise be a dreary end to a fairly dreary season, and predictably the critics began to clamor.

Here’s a sample of the Fine Whines:

THE CHASE RENDERS THE FIRST 26 RACES MEANINGLESS.

Just the opposite – every one of the first 26 races takes on added importance. Each race remains just as special as ever as an individual event, plus also counting toward making the Chase. Do the NFL playoffs make the regular season irrelevant?  Of course not; the importance of each game is enhanced, not diluted.

IF MY DRIVER’S NOT IN THE CHASE I WON’T WATCH.

Why not? If your favorite driver (for example, Dale Earnhardt Jr.) fails to be among the Top 12 Chasers, he’ll still be competing in the final 10 races. And I believe he’ll be trying just as hard as ever to win because that’s the only way he can salvage something from an otherwise disappointing season. The non-Chasers should be oozing incentive.

THE NON-CHASE DRIVERS GET IGNORED.

Yes they do, to an extent, just as NFL teams that don’t make the playoffs get ignored. But the beauty of the Chase is that the non-Chase teams don’t pack up and go home. They continue to race, and that means they have a chance to draw plenty of attention to themselves and their team the old-fashioned way: lead laps and win the race.

THE CHASE WIPES OUT ‘REGULAR SEASON’ ACCOMPLISHMENTS

True, amassing a huge points lead, as Tony Stewart has done, doesn’t allow the leader to coast through the final 10 races as he could under the old system. Just as in the NFL a team can go undefeated through the regular season and then have to start a new fight for its life in the playoffs. There’s no coasting in the Chase.

NON-CHASERS HAVE NO TITLE SHOT

No, they don’t. And neither would they under the former system. If a driver isn’t among the Top 12 with 10 races to go he had no chance of winning the championship under any scenario. That’s what makes the first 26 races so important, remember? The Chase doesn’t eliminate a single contender, it simply expands the field of contenders.

THE CHASE IS TOO ‘CONTRIVED’

You’ve got me there; NASCAR set up the system, then tweaked it by adding two more teams to the Chase and awarding more bonus points for the winner. Just as the NFL playoffs, NBA playoffs and major league baseball playoffs are “contrived.” In each of those sports the best team during the regular season is not assured of winning the championship. They have to earn it by turning in great playoff performances under tremendous pressure. What part of “excitement” don’t some people understand?

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 9 2009
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • larry woody says:

    Terrell, I remember our radio Chase debate and I’m glad to see that great minds think alike — eventually!

  • Terrell Davis says:

    Woody,
    You must be a master carpenter! Once again you have hit the nail right on it’s hard little head.
    As you can remember (maybe), we were doing a radio show in Nashville when this Chase thing came up and I was totally against it. As I remember you thought it was a good thing. Once again you hit the nail on the head while I was sitting around nursing a sore thumb!
    The Chase has been good for the sport because it does add some drama to the near end and possibly the end of the season. Could it be better? Maybe, but I don’t really think it’s broken, so why try to fix it. Chase on!