When Nascar announced its new Chase system before the 2014 season, predictably, there was an uproar. The overhaul of the Chase was the most radical one that Nascar had proposed yet–a 10 race tournament complete with elimination races and culminating in a winner-takes-all battle at Homestead-Miami. Many Nascar fans were furious–the eliminations and the deciding finale felt like contrived drama for most of them. There were many complaints about the format, but how many of them were truly valid? Let’s take a look.
1. Drivers will sandbag
We heard it through out the year. With Nascar’s win and you’re in system, most drivers will stop trying after they get that first win. That didn’t happen. Even after they secured a win, drivers such as Dale Jr, Brad Keselowski, and Jeff Gordon continued to rack up wins and strong finishes; the bonus points they received for winning provided strong incentives to continue to race. Even during the Chase, where a win means automatic advancement to the next round, drivers have not ridden around in the bag after winning a race. They continue to fight for the top spot; after all, one more win for Keselowski or Gordon is one less automatic transfer going to their rivals.
2. Bad drivers will make it in
There were also many concerns that bad or mediocre drivers would be able to make it in to the Chase by lucking into a win. AJ Allmendinger, driving for the one-car team JTG Daugherty Racing, locked himself into the Chase by winning at Watkins Glen, angering some of fans who felt he didn’t deserve a Chase berth. Allmendinger has proved them wrong. Since missing out on the second round of the Chase by only 2 points, Allmendinger has put in several strong finishes, and currently sits 13th in the points, ahead of drivers such as Jimmie Johnson.
3. The racing will be boring
The racing we had this year was some of the most exciting in recent memory. Drivers went hard for the win, week in and week out. There were crashes, fights, bold moves, and exciting strategy calls. The final race even went down to the last lap! Certainly, the racing was far from boring.
4. The champion won’t be the best driver
Many were concerned that the eventual champion wouldn’t be the driver with the best season. With the elimination race at Homestead, fans were concerned about one bad race being able to sink a racer’s career. Heading into the season finale, many worried that Ryan Newman, who hadn’t finished higher than 3rd all year, could sneak his way into the championship spot. Newman finished second, but his effort wasn’t enough as Kevin Harvick won the race to take home the 2014 Sprint Cup!