Jay Busbee

Changes are on the way for the Chase, Brian France says

Love the Chase? Hate the Chase? Indifferent to the Chase? (Of course not. Nobody's indifferent to the Chase.) Whatever your feelings, don't get too attached to them, because the Chase is going to change. Yes, again.

But don't go wailing that "NASCAR is doomed" nonsense again. Believe it or not, nobody in NASCAR wants an uncompetitive Chase. On the contrary, head honcho Brian France said in a Friday press conference, the goal is to bring a "Game 7" feel to the Chase:

"We like a playoff-style format for sure," he said. "It distinguishes us in motorsports, number one, distinguishes our national divisions number two. And, number three, the big design is to have playoff-type moments that only can be, in any sport, created when there's a lot on the line at any one moment, right? That's what the essence of Game 7s, eliminations and all that are." In other words, clinching before Homestead kind of sucks.

The problem with motorsports is that you can't eliminate cars the way you can teams, or you're left with two cars chasing each other around the track for 500 miles, which would be about as much fun to watch as midnight traffic. So NASCAR is investigating possibilities for juicing up the Chase while still keeping all 43 cars on the track.

Some possibilities: elimination rounds, where drivers are eliminated from championship contention, or points alterations, where drivers get more points for wins in the Chase (which would prevent the "just don't wreck" style of driving that often dominates). France said all ideas are on the table, so with any luck, we'll get a fan-friendly improvement or two.

In other news, France noted that the economy has not appreciably improved, but that there are more than 400 sponsors in the sport who are renewing their sponsorship. So that's some good news, even if some of those sponsors are of the little-bitty-sticker variety. He also indicated that NASCAR takes the loss of its younger fanbase very seriously, and that the double-whammy of Olympics and World Cup have sapped many casual viewers.

Sure, it's spin, but hey, we take our good news (or good outlooks) where we can get them. The full press conference is right here; if you're interested in a look at the present and future of the sport, it's well worth a look.

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