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Take care with your changes NASCAR

Be careful, NASCAR.
Brian France, the sanctioning body's chairman and CEO, said Friday at Daytona that NASCAR was contemplating changes to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format that could be “significant.”

If that's the case, NASCAR would be well advised to tread lightly in overhauling its 10-race playoff system.

“What we're talking about is enhancing it in a way that will bring out more of the winning moments, the big moments that happen in sports,” France said. “And if there's a way we can do that—and there are a couple of ways—we're going to give that a lot of weight.”

NASCAR already has floated ideas in conversations with drivers and team owners. Those ideas include expanding the number of drivers who qualify for the Chase; eliminating a portion of the Chase field as the playoffs progress; and instituting a point structure that all but guarantees the identity of the Sprint Cup champion will remain in doubt until the final lap of the season finale.

Why does France believe the Chase may need significant tweaking? First and foremost, TV viewership among 18- to 34-year-old males has eroded by a factor of 29 percent this year, according to Fox Sports CEO David Hill, citing ratings data from the first 12 races of the Cup season.

To change the Chase in hopes of regaining the interest of the short-attention-span generation, however, may be misguided.

The Chase was born, you'll remember in the aftermath of Matt Kenseth's less-than-scintillating 2003 championship, when the driver of the No. 17 Ford out-steadied the rest of the field, won one race and wrapped up the title at Rockingham, a week before the final race at Homestead.

Since then, the Chase already has undergone significant changes. It started in 2004 with 10 drivers, plus any drivers within 400 points of the lead after 26 races (a rule that never came into play).

After Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon—two of the sports highest-magnitude stars—failed to qualify for the 2005 Chase, and two-time champ Tony Stewart and rising star Carl Edwards failed to make the cut in 2006, the field was expanded to 12 drivers beginning in 2007.

From 2004 to 2006, the so-called regular-season winner started the Chase with a five-point advantage of second place, a 10-point advantage over third, and so forth. Starting in 2007, NASCAR has seeded the Chase according to the number of victories in the first 26 races, with each win worth 10 points added to the 5,000-point base each Chase qualifier receives.

The first Chase produced the sort of big impact moment France hopes to duplicate. Despite losing a wheel as he approached pit road at Homestead, Kurt Busch held off Jimmie Johnson and Gordon to win the first championship under the new format. The issue was in doubt until the final lap, when Greg Biffle held off Johnson to secure the title for Busch by a mere eight points.



Tagged as: Sprint Cup , chase

Related Pictures

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Cup Drivers at Martinsville
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Johnson advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS races to win Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Gordon advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with his daughter, Ella Sofia Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Gordon advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory win Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Gordon advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, races Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, lead the field to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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The green flag waves at the start of the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway on September 27, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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JK99 - Unregistered

July 07, 2010 12:00 AM

I lost interest in Nascar around the time the chase came into being. I think it's a bad idea and they should go back to the old points system. As fas as dimishing the value of championships, well it does and it doesn't. It's still an accomplishment, but Johnson wouldn't have 4 titles under the old rules....so....



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