For as long as the Chase had been in existence, I have railed about the system. It’s not news that I consider a race within a race more than silly, if not stupid.
It’s happened time after time—a Chase contender gets taken out by a non-Chaser. In MLB, NFL, and NBA, only the championship contender gets to compete for the championship, but this flawed system allows everyone to compete. And then the problems begin. As much as the folks at the headquarters at Daytona Beach want to compete with those stick and ball sports (which is futile), this sport is nothing like baseball, football, and basketball.
Our sport has always been a season-long struggle. The winner of individual races was just as important as the champion. For some odd reason, we’ve now concentrated on the championship from Daytona to Homestead. Ask a true MLB, NFL, or NBA fan, and they will tell you that the championship doesn’t enter their mind until it’s time. In baseball, that’s August. In football, it’s November, and in basketball…well, who knows.
Their playoff system is so intricate that I can’t figure it out. Regardless, we put 43 cars out there and we have 12 championship contenders. Things are bound to happen. On Sunday, it was Kyle Busch and David Reutimann. I’ve never known any trouble between those two, but backmarker Reutimann (and I mean no harm in that statement—only the fact that he is not in the championship run) and Kyle got together in the race. Reutimann retaliated and the result was that Busch lost valuable points and finished 21st. That’s racing. Always has been and always will be, but the age old argument that Busch was going for a championship just doesn’t sit well with me. Not that Busch did anything wrong. It appeared to me that it was just a racing incident.
The problem comes when the flawed system rears its ugly head. On any other day, it would have been just that—a racing incident, but with the Chase system, it becomes a problem. Should those not in the Chase just ride around and not cause any problems? The whole premise of the situation is that NASCAR has created an unnatural situation with the Chase format. Everyone runs and is at the mercy of the other 31 cars on the track. It’s happened several times in the somewhat short history of the Chase. The nature of a race is that everyone is trying to win the race. Even the guy starting 43rd in most cases wants to win and will do anything to accomplish that goal.
In the stick and ball sports, which NASCAR is trying to emulate, that is not the case. Only the champions compete for the win. I don’t know what the answer is. Well, yes I do. Scarp the Chase. Back in my youth, the championship was who won at the end—no one paid much attention to it because the individual race was what was important.
The famed Wood Brothers only ran a select number or races and went for the win in every one. Today, everyone must run a full season to get valued sponsor money. The goal is to make the final cut, and if you do not, you still run to win, but no one notices.
Greg Biffle won at Kansas, but ESPN immediately went to interview Jimmie Johnson, the multi-champion and ask him if he had a few more laps could he have caught Biffle. The winner’s interview was an afterthought, and even then the talk was that he was only 86 points behind Johnson and what he could do to catch up.
The win was secondary. It’s my problem, this hatred of the Chase, something that the media tells us everyone has embraced, but I thought Biffle’s win was significant. It was his second of the year—more than the darlings of the media—and it was only the second Ford win of the year.
Never mind that because Johnson finished second and is “on a roll.” Whatever happened to winning a race? I guess you’ll have to ask those who created the Chase. The single worst thing that has happened to the sport in my lifetime.