When the new NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup came out many people were excited at the possibilities and many more were withholding judgment. The first three rounds of the new Chase are over, the results of which have some fans upset.
Why would one be upset? We had the most exciting races in a long time. We had lots of drama, fights and desperation moves on the track. Everything that we need to put some real excitement into NASCAR racing.
Well for one thing those teams leading the points all season are now out. At the end of the regular season it looked like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski were going to battle to the end. Jimmie Johnson wasn’t his usual stellar form but he was still fifth in the standings. Matt Kenseth hadn’t won a race but was the highest finishing driver who didn’t win a race and was sixth in the standings. Finishing out the top ten in the standings only Joey Logano 4th, Kevin Harvick 7th, and Ryan Newman 8th, are still alive and have a chance to win the Championship.
Ryan Newman made a great “Win and You’re In” move last week by driving into the corner on the last lap without lifting and using poor Kyle Larson’s car to keep him for certain disaster in order to pass one more car and make it to the final round. Like it or not but that is exactly the move that this new Chase format was intended to encourage. The only problem is that Ryan Newman hasn’t won a race, which is exactly what this new format was not supposed to be about.
The one thing I have always hated about NASCAR since I became a fan is that almost every fan has their favorite driver and that’s it. My driver is done so the racing sucks let’s get into the car so we can beat the traffic. It’s sad. I’m glad I have never been that way. So your driver is out of the Chase, what now?
Well now is a fine time to pay attention to not just your driver but the other drivers on the track and the potential drama that will enfold. Even I was caught off guard when Newman bonsai’d the corner on Kyle Larson. I thought that play was over when Larson had passed him some laps before. That is why I love NASCAR.
It might be Win and you earn the Championship but it might also end up that the race for the Championship is much further back. Remember there will be no bonus points for leading laps or the most laps. There cannot be a tie. The position on the track for Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman determines who will win the Championship. What can be better than that. There are no clinch scenarios, whichever one is up front wins. We will have a new first time Champion at the end of the race at Homestead Miami Speedway.
If you cannot get to Homestead Miami Speedway for the Ford EcoBoost 400 it will be broadcast live on ESPN Sunday, November 16th starting at 2 PM ET.
Feature Photo Credit: 302952 Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images