NASCAR - Put an Offense Mentality in the Chase

Put an Offense Mentality in the Chase – Revisited

In the first round of the Chase Martin Truex Jr. won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. It begged the question. What if you can eliminate drivers from the Chase by winning multiple races?  So what would have happened?

In the round of 16, Martin Truex Jr. won two races and Kevin Harvick one. Both drivers were Chase Contenders. Because Truex won two races then one driver would be eliminated from the Round of 12 in the addition to the four originally planned. Martin Truex Jr. would have then eliminated a potential contender. In this case that driver was Austin Dillon the lowest in points of the 12 Chase drivers who did not win a race.

In the round of 12 (only 11 drivers), Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won races. All were Chase Contenders. Kevin Harvick, because this was his second Chase win would eliminate a driver from the Round of 8. This is where it potentially gets confusing. Since there was only 11 drivers the bottom four are eliminated. They are Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. Carl Edwards the next lowest in points of the Chase drivers who did not win a race would be eliminated due to Harvick’s win. This would leave Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick. Only six drivers because of the two multiple wins.

In the round of 8 (only 6 drivers), Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano won races.  In this case Johnson and Logano had already won races so they would have eliminated two drivers from the final race (Race of four). Because a driver who wins in a round automatically moves on to the next round this would leave only Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano to fight it out at Homestead Miami for the Championship.

Although this format didn’t appear to eliminate the Champion from winning, it did change who was a contender for the Championship. It would have also changed the complexity and strategy of the last race. It puts an even greater emphasis on winning which is what NASCAR intended with this format.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for

Feature Photo Credit: 322798 Chris Trotman/Getty Images

3 thoughts on “Put an Offense Mentality in the Chase – Revisited”

  1. Brian, it’s an interesting exercise in “what if” scenarios that the sanctioning body seems to have no interest in tweaking further, since their view is that it’s “working”. All of the metrics of the sport suggest otherwise, so I’m not sure if it matters what method is used to determine the Champion–does “anyone” REALLY care? That said, let me tell you how I’d like to see the championship decided. Since we can’t expect NASCAR to reduce the schedule or change the mix of races to add more road courses or at least fewer 1.5 mile tracks (any time in the near future), my one requirement for a change in the Chase is to reduce the number of Chase races to 7 (from 10)–the current focus on just 16/12/8/4 drivers/teams for 10 weeks is an insult to the other teams, their sponsors, and fans. To get to the final 7 races with a shot at the championship, I would much rather see scoring as in golf–the lower the “score” the higher ranked a driver is…in other words, highest average finish, calculated up to the 29th race ranks a driver #1, and so on down through the field. Wins become tie-breakers, not a guarantee to be in the Chase (see C. Buescher), should there be more than one driver with the exact same “average” for the 29 races. At that point, the Chase field–whether 16 drivers or some other number–shift to a separate points system–in the case of 16 drivers, the scoring is now 16 points to the highest Chase finisher, down to 1 point for the lowest Chase finisher. In 7 races, there can be two or three eliminations (3-3-finale or 2-2-2-finale). The points earned by each Chase driver in the 6 races to get to the finale are easy to follow. I don’t know that it would be best to have the Championship race be just the 4 who made it through, since at some point in the rounds, drivers will be mathematically eliminated anyway–just run the 7 races, and whoever scores the most points is Champion. The interesting thing, so far, is that the Champion for the two years the current process has been in play has actually won the Homestead race (Busch & Johnson). Even now that isn’t required, but when it DOES happen that someone else wins the finale and doesn’t become Champion, some interesting possibilities surface–maybe the driver winning the Homestead race ends up with more total wins than the Champion. Easily possible, and it’s happened before, so it concerns me that the current “win and you’re in” (to the next round) approach carries with it that flaw. By accumulating points through the 7 races (aka Monster Series) the Champion is whoever accumulates the most points….PERIOD. I haven’t run any numbers with my scenario to see if anything would have changed as a result.

    1. Yes, I agree. Put it back to the way it was for 29 years(1975-2003) and leave it alone. This simple Latford scoring system was the best. Of course, when you’re used to something for a long time, it’s hard not to want to keep it the same. In this case though, change was never necessary and the format was just fine.

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