The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format has generated as much or more debate than any facet of NASCAR since it was implemented in 2004.
The radical departure it represented from NASCAR's roots was hailed as both a revolutionary move by NASCAR CEO Brian France and a slap in the face to the sport's traditionalists.
But the question hovering over the Chase is whether it's really changed anything on the business side.
It would be hard to tell by asking Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, who cheerfully surrendered an October slot in the ten-race Chase for a date on Labour Day weekend, two weeks before the Chase begins.
“We had to weigh that, but honestly, it didn't take us long to make that decision,” Clark said of the opportunity to move to a holiday weekend and run at night.
NASCAR's playoffs, designed to elevate interest at the end of the season and keep the competition closer, has succeeded in creating more story lines on the track. But it has not delivered the playoff-style lift in TV ratings or ticket demand.
Attendance for Chase races continued its downward trend against last year in the mid-single digits, on a percentage basis, just as they have all season.
Title sponsorships to Chase and non-Chase races work off the same rate card. There's little to no premium attached to title sponsoring a Chase event, according to track officials.
Texas Motor Speedway charges fans a premium for tickets to its Chase race, but it's one of few tracks to do so. At most venues with two dates, the first race in the spring drives more robust ticket sales than the fall race.
TV ratings, once a silver lining to NASCAR's season, slumped to the finish, with ESPN experiencing declines for Atlanta, Martinsville and Charlotte, while the Texas race was flat. The 3.7 Chase average going into last weekend's season finale was trending just below the 3.8 number for all ten Chase races last year. The overnight ratings for Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway was 3.6, 5.3 percent lower than last year's 3.8. Only three of the 10 Chase races have seen their ratings grow from the first year of the Chase in 2004, and two of those appeared on TNT in the Chase's early years.