When Brian France first introduced the new points system after the 2003 NASCAR season my response was this, “This is not going to be a good thing for the sport because the actual champion wouldn’t win.”
I have always maintained a personal belief that the person who earns the most points over the entire 36 race schedule should be hoisting the championship trophy at the end of the season, not the guy who did the best over the final 10 races.
Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for their five consecutive Chase titles, but in my opinion they are not 5x champions. Do not get me wrong. Jimmie Johnson is a fantastic race car driver. He has won 53 races in 9 years, but 5 championships is an over exaggeration.
It is not just the economy that is driving NASCAR fans away. A lot of fans drove away from the sport when they lost old school traditional drivers, such as Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett.
The new car has not made the racing anymore exciting. The cars are so identical that no team can really gain an edge unless they really come close to the boundaries. Unfortunately for drivers, like Clint Bowyer, there is a risk that comes with pushing the limits and they were caught and Bowyer received an 150 point penalty, which effectively ended his championship hopes. While NASCAR will never have attendance like the NFL, we could be doing better than we are now. The NFL has no problems putting people in the stands. You do not see Roger Goodell making a points system that gives the team with the most points scored offensively an automatic berth in the Super Bowl. The Patriots would win in that scenario with 289 points, but they have the same record as the Atlanta Falcons (8-2). Falcons have allowed 192 points on defense and the Patriots have 242. It probably won’t happen, but a system like that is similar to NASCAR.
NASCAR fans do not want to see the championship come down to a lottery, as Ryan Newman said it. NASCAR fined Ryan Newman for those comments. The old system was the way to go and NASCAR has transformed it completely backward. The only change I would make to the old system is the 10 extra bonus points for a win. This in my opinion would make the championship more exciting. Now, some of you are probably saying, “It was more exciting!! Look at the point differential!” It is not about the point differential. It is about how the points system should be! Kevin Harvick had a tremendous year and would have beaten out Jimmie Johnson by 285 points for his first title. He was four top-tens away from tying Jeff Gordon for the modern record. Consistency wins championships.
Let me just give you a glimpse on how the record book should be since the implementation of the Chase in 2004.
2004 Winner Jeff Gordon(5th Championship) Runner-Up Jimmie Johnson (-47)
2005 Winner Tony Stewart Won Either Way (2nd Championship) Runner-Up Greg Biffle (-215)
2006 Winner Jimmie Johnson Either Way (1st Championship) Runner-Up Matt Kenseth (-4)
Yes that is one position that decided the championship! Johnson deserved that title. He came from behind and his team never gave up! Congratulations to them!
2007 Winner Jeff Gordon (6th Championship) Runner-Up Jimmie Johnson (-353)
2008 Winner Carl Edwards Runner-Up Jimmie Johnson (-16)
2009 Winner Jimmie Johnson(2nd Championship) Runner-Up Jeff Gordon (-66)
2010 Winner Kevin Harvick Runner-Up Jimmie Johnson (-285)
Brian France needs to step back on his Chase changes comments and just go back to the old system. I assure everyone that is reading this that it will bring the traditional fans back. They are not happy with that they see right now. Now, with a championship under his belt, Kevin Harvick is ready to defend it in 2011. Carl Edwards is coming off two consecutive wins to close out 2010 and of course you always have to watch out for Jimmie Johnson.