Life is change, growth is optional. Someone else said that long before I came along, but I love that statement, mostly. And every year NASCAR embraces the part about change. This year, there's been a lot of change.
There's the new qualifying rules and now there's the new Chase rules, which "we" did chat about almost two weeks ago.
Well, it's official. Each race is going to be even more important, and bad luck will be even more evil than ever before.
NASCAR is going to make a few changes.
First up, they're allowing up to 16 drivers into the Chase. It used to be 12. And before that, 10, but Tony Stewart missed the field once, and they then upped it to 12.
A driver can get into the Chase by various methods and one of them is by winning a race. This new aspect over-rules the process of having the most points. If there are fewer than 16 drivers with wins, then points will settle out the field to 16.
This means that one can be the absolutely most consistently performing driver of the season, have 26 second place finishes, and not be rewarded for it.
This new focus on wins is designed to induce a tizzy about winning a race during the season. Or, technically speaking NASCAR is putting the focus on winning.
And here's another new and interesting wrinkle.
After the Chase for the trophy commences, every three races, the field or contenders for the Championship will be reduced by 4 drivers. I don't know about you, but adding 4 eligible drivers who will be getting eliminated in a few races seems moot. But it should add some drama or excitement to talk about during this post season.
And then, after every few races of these final 10 of the year, we won't be playing the "mathematically possible" options any more.
To be honest though, most contenders who aren't in the top-five to begin with, usually aren't competitive. Usually, I said.
And then for me, here is the MOST DISAPPOINTING aspect of the entire process, because it's not about points in the last race, it's about who has the least amount of bad luck, which means someone could barely squeak into the final race and still win the championship:::
"Four Drivers, First-to-the-Finish Championship Finale
The 36th and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
Bonus points for laps led will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion."
Word is that some drivers are surprised and not so happy with the change,
I think the diagram leading off this article says it all, but I'll let the press release speak for itself.
press release (after the page break):