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Old vs. new: The points debate rages on

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports
Old vs. new: The points debate rages on

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Four-straight championships have made Jimmie Johnson the most relevant driver in NASCAR

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The band hasn't started playing Jimmie Johnson's theme song yet, but they're warming up …

Let's get to the mailbag:

Jay, as much as I hate to say it, I agree with you on your argument on Jimmie Johnson, and the haters. I'm no fan of Johnson, but it seems to me that his consistency over the recent years is very similar to the consistency that led Matt Kenseth to the title the year before the Chase's inception. It's also different. But it's more proof that consistency is as important in championships as wins.

That being the case, wouldn't it be even more argument against the Chase, and simply reinstating the old points system?

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Johnson didn't start the Chase at the top this year. His consistency – combined with problems from other teams as you noted in your article – helped get him up there. I don't think the Chase favors one driver or another. I think it favors consistency, just like the old system. I don't think the format needs to be altered. Rather, I think it needs to be dropped. The old system's just as exciting.

Greenville, N.C.

I see your point that the new system just does what the old system did, only in a smaller time frame – which, in my view, is a compromise between those who prefer the old system and what NASCAR wants (to keep the championship battle close right up to the end).

If the old system produced tight championship battles, then NASCAR might not have changed anything. But it didn't always, and so they did. At the very least, give NASCAR credit for making consistency over a long period – 10 races is a long way – still count.

Do you believe the chase playoff system has caused the dwindling interest in NASCAR or is it to be blamed on something else? Maybe interest in the sport isn't dwindling like I think it is, but I really lost interest in the sport once the system went into place.

I guess I am just a fan of the old system of building a championship season from day one and not relying on a staged playoff system. Thanks for your input on my question.

Rob Ayers
Crozet, Va.

It's impossible to quantify, but I will say this: The Chase doesn't appear to be bringing more fans to the sport. Plummeting TV ratings speak to that.

What's impossible to know is if the ratings would be any better if NASCAR were still using the old system. The idea is that a tighter championship battle would produce better ratings. When looking at which system provides a better chance of that happening, the Chase wins out.

Wally Dallenbach and I discuss the TV ratings in video analysis this week. He believes it has a lot to do with the number of commercials during broadcasts. While that may be one factor, I think it's much more complicated than that.

The combination of shrinking attention spans, a glut of NASCAR programming and a season that never ends is, in my opinion, the biggest reason why ratings are down. Less is sometimes more, and right now there is more than enough NASCAR to fill just about anyone's appetite.

Thanks for a great article Jay. There's nothing wrong with the Chase. If someone wants to see a different driver win the championship, that driver simply needs to step up and do a better job. To dumb down the chase to rig it for someone else to win would simply make it a sham. We, as a society and a country need examples of great effort and excellence. To take that away will run our society and country into the ground.

Dave Sucsy
Lubbock, Texas

Hey Jay who is leading the points? You just gotta love JJ, without him you sports writers would have nothing to write about, think about it


Ummm, OK, thinking &hellip aaaaaaaaand I have no idea what you're talking about. I do know that if Jimmie Johnson weren't leading the points, someone else would be. That's kind of how it works.

What I don't get is the insinuation that because we talk about Johnson a lot, it must mean we're rooting for him. The reason we talk about him a lot is because he's really, really, really, really relevant. (Was that enough reallys?) If Kevin Conway were a four-time defending champion, we'd talk about him a lot too. But he's not, so we don't.

Hi Jay. I don't disagree with your article about the chase being fair at all. I agree that JJ wins because he makes fewer mistakes than others. But, that's kind of the point of why people don't like the Chase I think. Why would we want to encourage drivers to try for top fives instead of risking it all for first?

It's true Tony could have played it safe and not ran his car out of gas, and that would have been the smart play to win the chase. But, isn't it much more exciting to see drivers go for it?

John Long

There are two issues in play here – one I agree with, while the other baffles me.

First, the one I agree with, and that's that NASCAR should offer more points for winning races. I've been outspoken on this issue forever. Offering more points for wins promotes better racing up front. Period. End of discussion.

But if a reason why fans don't like the Chase is because it encourages drivers to points-race, why then are they clamoring for the old system – which puts an even greater emphasis on points racing?

Want to know why I think NASCAR fans complain about the Chase? No? Well, here it is anyway. NASCAR fans like to complain. There, I said it. Now let me have it.

Hello Jay, I have read your column on "Jimmie proofing" the Chase and I think that everyone WILL overreact, as usual, when Jimmie wins his fifth title this year. The truth of the matter is this: A much LARGER points difference between WINNING, and 2nd place will definitely put a little competition back on the track. Why are we talkin about an elimination, when we want as many CONTENDERS as possible at the final race? What's it gonna take for NASCAR to realize that a major points difference MUST happen? Your thoughts?

Nick Carter
New Braunfels, Texas

I don't have a good answer for you. I asked Mike Helton about this a few weeks ago at New Hampshire, and his response was that, a few years ago, NASCAR did make a move to award more points for winning when they went from 175 to 185 while keeping second at 170. I said I didn't think it was enough, and he didn't agree.

If the Chase is so great and Johnson is so good, why is it he would not have the point lead under the old points system, which, by the way, served NASCAR well for so many years?

Johnstown, Pa.

You can't know that, Tug. Sure, if you look at the points as they happened this year, Kevin Harvick has a 231-point lead right now. But that's assuming everyone would have raced the first 26 races of the season the same, which they wouldn't have. I understand where you're going with this, but to be fair, you have to allow for the change in variables – and saying Johnson wouldn't be in the lead doesn't do that.

OK, I take back my calling somebody MRs. Lousy. Not a bad race, and she did start 14th, not 36th as I said (must've been the wrong story). But still a loss and a 1-106 record. Not to mention her crybaby tactics, which led to this interesting posting.

Danica needs to go back to playing with dolls. She's a whiner and a crier. She can bump and block all she wants, but heaven help us if someone else bumps or blocks her.

In a male-dominated sport, she tends to have the bullseye on her back, agreed, but her crying and finger pointing is not helping her to win over the other drivers. GO J.J. #48!!!!!!

Rob Durkee
North Hollywood, Calif.

This is a huge, HUGE day for me. You see, my boy Rob writes in just about every week to tell me how stupid I am. So to have him not do that is a big moment for me. Rob, I'm calling my parents to let them know. They'll be so proud.

"I wouldn’t be driving both cars," Juan Pablo Montoya, the most successful driver to make the switch from open wheel to stock cars.

Oh boy you aren't going to hear the end of that comment for awhile. For starters, some guy named Stewart?

Steve Sox
Mesa, Ariz.

In my head, I meant recent drivers to make the switch, but that's not what I wrote, so I'm dropping and giving everyone who emailed me this same thing 20.

This and that …

Why does NASCAR run less than 500 mile races once the Chase starts? I have been a NASCAR fan for 45 years and with the exception of road courses prefer 500 mile races. The extra miles can make the races much more interesting.

Russell Withrow
New Haven, Kent.

Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway is proof positive of why lopping some laps off certain races is the right thing to do. At 500 miles, ACS is an "According to Jim" marathon. At 400, it's an "According to Jim" marathon without commercials – still not great, but better.

The shorter distance compacts the action, cuts out some of that middle section where everyone's just riding around, and makes for a much more exciting build toward the climax. So I have to disagree with you on this one, Russell.

I really do enjoy NASCAR, even though an awful lot of it is boring. My question is: How does Kyle Bush manage to be so much faster that all (or most) of the others cars week in and week out unless he's doing something "questionable" to his car that the others drivers don't? There just isn't THAT much difference in all these cars, either at the Nationwide or Sprint Cup levels!

Jim Atteberry
Pollock, Texas

I assume you're talking about Kyle's 12 wins this season in the Nationwide Series. While it's an incredible accomplishment, let's be honest about something – the competition in the Nationwide Series isn't nearly as stiff as it is in the Cup Series. There aren't as many well-funded (read: competitive) cars on the track each week, and the skill level isn't nearly as high. Realistically, Busch is only competing with about four or five other drivers for wins every week – not 15 or so as in the Cup Series.

This isn't to diminish what Kyle has accomplished in the Nationwide Series this season, but rather to give it some perspective.

Hey Jay, Read your articles each week and love em. Next year NASCAR is thinking of an elimination process and I kind of like it and here's why.

This year you have Kenseth who is in the Chase and Newman who isn't, but lately Newman is running better than Kenseth. With the elimination format they're proposing and I don't know how it will be set up, but once you are eliminated you should go back and be another one of the drivers not in the Chase.

I guess what I'm getting at is if a guy who is now 13th is running better than a guy locked in at 11th the points should recognize this and move that guy up instead of having him locked in at 13th for the remainder of the year. Just my opinion. What do you think?

Orlando, Fla.

Newman is running better than more drivers than just Kenseth right now. However the elimination format works, it won't allow for the best driver outside the Chase to all of the sudden be in the Chase. And if you are eliminated, you'll still be locked into finishing no worse than 12th (or however many drivers are in the Chase.)

While I see your point, sometimes that's just the way it is. It's not just about being good; it's about being good at the right time.

Fantasy land

Here are my Fantasy NASCAR picks for the week:

A Group: Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch
B Group: Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, David Reutimann
C Group: Sam Hornish Jr., Paul Menard

Last call …

I feel like that Meatloaf song. "1 outta 20 aint bad!"

Auto Club Speedway
Fontana, Calif.

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