Hot 20 – Change Can be a Good Thing, as Long as we are Sure it Is

Change where change is necessary is a good thing. NASCAR wanted us to keep watching, so out went the system that determined a champion based on season long performance. Winning is big, but it was not big enough, so in came the automatic Chase bye to race winners who at least put in the time to challenge Danica Patrick in the standings. One bad race and one’s Chase ambitions came to an end, but now a win keeps one in.

Change to create unpredictability has proven to be good. A driver got hot and drove off with the Chase, but that was addressed by dividing the Chase into four segments and a fresh slate of points for the survivors. Going into the final at Homestead, four will have an equal chance of taking the prize. It could come right down to a race to the line to determine things. Excitement, drama, unpredictability.

Next season, more change and another attempt to create unpredictability. A car drives off into the sunset and the list of potential contenders for that event dwindle down, barring some unfortunate event. Reduce horsepower, make the cars more difficult to drive, and allow for more passing is one way to address the predictability factor. If I can watch a race and have two or four or more challenging for the win, all the better. If every track can produce the uncertainty of a Talladega without the carnage, who could possibility argue against such change?

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Quality racing deserves quality announcing. The broadcasters are there to enhance the action, to make us yearn to be there ourselves, but far too often they fail to even keep us in front of the tube. With 43 cars ramping it up to over 180 miles per hour, there is no such thing as a boring race, just boring, unskilled, uninspiring announcers. Hopefully this is another change that has been addressed for next season.

Yes, change can be good. It can come in the form of new blood challenging and winning a championship, such as Brad Keselowski. A driver coming of age, like Joey Logano. A driver giving notice of what might be expected in the future, as Kyle Larson is doing. Change that sees what is old become new again, like Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at or near the front.

Still, it is good to recognize what we already have that is good, like Jimmie Johnson striving to match the title accomplishments of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Our Hot 20, with our own twist of awarding 25 bonus points to race winners, showcases those stars who have shone most brightly this season.

I like the win and you are in format, but I am not totally sold on having 31 non-contenders on the track at Kansas this weekend at the same time as the dozen who are vying for a championship. If only we could figure out a way to have a real playoff, maybe one that is reserved for only the top 20 to be a part of, that might be one more change to consider. I will leave it to you to ponder the merits of that.

BOLD = Currently in the Chase

HOT 20

1 – Jeff Gordon – 4 Wins – 1110 Points
2 – Brad Keselowski – 5 – 1068
3 – Joey Logano – 4 – 1044
4 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 3 – 1044
5 – Jimmie Johnson – 3 – 980
6 – Kevin Harvick – 2 – 949
7 – Carl Edwards – 2 – 906
8 – Matt Kenseth – 0 – 894
9 – Ryan Newman – 0 – 873
10 – Kyle Larson – 0 – 859
11 – Kasey Kahne – 1 – 833
12 – Greg Biffle – 0 – 825
13 – Kyle Busch – 1 – 817
14 – Clint Bowyer – 0 – 817
15 – Jamie McMurray – 0 – 805
16 – Paul Menard – 0 – 781
17 – Austin Dillon – 0 – 779
18 – Denny Hamlin – 1 – 759
19 – Kurt Busch – 1 – 743
20 – Brian Vickers – 0 – 730

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