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Everyone feeling better this week? Miss the truck race Thursday because of work? Spoiler alert, Brad Keselowski won his first race in the Truck Series ... ever. Hard to believe isn't it? When I first saw that stat I had to do a double-take to realize it wasn't true.
As we're on a truck note, this is interesting. Last week at Michigan, Keselowski's team's truck's had front splitter problems. Apparently because a NASCAR official got confused. But if the official was confused, did the team say something and protest its case?
Who you got this week? Will Matt Kenseth get a win? Will another non-winner win? The most dramatic scenario over the next three races may be a Kenseth win and two more repeat winners. That would leave the cluster around 10th place in the points standings to fight it out for the final Chase spots. And you know what? That sounds pretty familiar to the old style of Chase.
Let's get to it.
If the narrative of "winning is everything" doesn't change in the Chase, it's going to be even more incorrect than it's been throughout the regular season.
Because of the bye, wins will obviously be important, but at most, three drivers will be able to guarantee themselves passage to the next round via a win. That means that nine drivers would need to worry about points in the first round, five in the second and one in the third. Points are going to be even more important than winning simply because of the odds.
Under the current points system, the cost of a last place finish is exponentially greater than the benefit from finishing second. Just look at Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano last year at Chicago. While Junior was able to claw his way back through the standings over the next nine races last year, a driver who has a bad finish at Chicago has to win to move on. If not, then tough luck.
Through the first 100 races in the Chase, 49 Chase-eligible drivers have won races, meaning that roughly five Chase drivers win a Chase race every year. (The most is seven in 2012, the fewest is four which has happened in four years, including 2013.) That means there's a good chance of a repeat winner or two and it could happen for a driver in the same three-race segment or it could happen over the course of multiple segments.
If it's the latter, it's a huge benefit. But it's not going to be close to everything.
I have noticed that during the off-season and throughout the season up till now that NOT ONE PERSON in the media nor any drivers have pointed out this glaring issue. In the new system, if I am to understand it correctly, 3 or 4 drivers get eliminated after every 3 or 4 races?(not sure which) In any case think about this....Lets say that a driver...we will go with Jeff Gordon just for the sake of argument, enters the chase, and much like Tony 3 years ago reels off like 5,6,7 or even say he wins the first nine races...OK , now its the last race in Homestead, and lets say Jeff finishes 3rd and the 4th place driver entering the race finishes one spot ahead of him in second...Gordon would lose the Championship even though he won 9 races and was the clear class of the chase, while the 4th place driver (lets say Almirola) who never finished a race prior to this one in the top 5 but ran well enough to get to the final cut...HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLY FAIR????? - Gerrit
If you're looking at the ultimate in "fairness," the only way to determine the champion is to find the best team over the course of the largest sample size. Thus, that gives us the system that was in place since 2003.
But that's not happening. American sports aren't about fairness. You think it's fair for the best team over 162 games in baseball to lose in a best-of-five series in the first round of the playoffs? Is it fair for the undefeated New England Patriots to lose in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants?
No. Part of the reason we embrace the playoffs is because of the dramatic and random nature. If you're against the Chase completely in principle, you need to be against playoffs in every sport.
That doesn't mean you can't argue against the gimmicky nature of this Chase format, however. It's set up to artificially create drama with the Homestead race. If, and it's a big if, this format sticks for 10 years, it'll be interesting to see if the drama in years eight, nine and 10 are what they were in years one, two and three. The best moments are mostly organic.
How are we dividing the tiers? I think tha's the most important thing to note in this discussion. are there three? Four? Five?
If you're going to rank the teams right now, you'd go Hendrick, Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas (consistency factor) and then probably Roush Fenway. Or does the consistency of Richard Childress Racing vault RCR over Roush? If I was dividing them into classes, I'd put the Hendrick and Penske cars together, the JGR and SHR cars together and then Roush and Childress. Are they at the top right now? No. Are they near the top? They're closer to the surface than to the bottom of the pool.
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