In an effort to put more emphasis on winning, NASCAR has virtually thrown consistency out the window with changes to the 2014 Chase format. Brian France announced those changes today in his State of the Sport address and seemed confident that this is what fans want.
“The vast majority of the fans that we communicated with, and I think we’re the best in sports in staying close to our fan base, really love this,” he said.
Most of the fans I’ve spoken to have been adamant in their dislike of a system that places more value on one win than a season of competitiveness. In theory, a driver could have one win, finish 30th in the points standings and advance to the Chase. Is that driver more deserving than a driver who has no wins but finished consistently in the top ten the entire pre-Chase season?
No one is debating the importance of winning races but there has to be a balance and this new format may tip the scales too far in one direction.
It’s not likely that we will have 16 different race winners leading up to the Chase so consistency will have a part to play. However, it will only take a driver so far in this Winner-take-all game that NASCAR is intent on playing.
Once you make it into the Chase, the only certain way to advance through their version of the elimination rounds is to win a race. The Chase will culminate with the last race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the remaining top four battling for top position.
Brian France says, “It’s going to elevate racing. It’s going to make winning the most important thing by a wide margin.”
This may be accurate but is this the true measure of a champion?
Sometimes being a champion is not about the glory of standing in Victory Lane. It’s about all the small moments that led up to it. It’s about making the most of a bad day. It’s about taking a tenth place car and getting a fifth place finish through sheer determination.
It’s about sacrifice, hard work and dedication and most importantly, it cannot be manufactured.