Tag Archives: Contender Round

I Don’t Think I Like the New Chase For the Sprint Cup Anymore?

The first race of the second elimination round of the new NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup is over. Three of the drivers who have won races and been on the top of the standings the whole season had issues at Kansas Speedway and are now at the bottom of the standings. They are in serious trouble of being out of contention and eliminated during this, The Contender Round, of the Chase.

This has many fans upset, especially fans of Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. How can this be? How can drivers who have won races including Keselowski who won a Chase race be on the outside hoping to get back in? It is upsetting.

It is not a foregone conclusion that these three drivers will not make it to the next round but another unfortunate circumstance or bad race and they will not. Any one of them could win this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway or next week at Talladega Superspeedway and they would move forward. They could also have good runs and some of the other drivers suffer a similar fate as they did at Kansas.

Does this mean the new Chase format is bad. No! It means the new Chase format is doing exactly what it was supposed to.

The new Chase Format was supposed to create drama and excitement for the fans. It is certainly doing that. In the Chicago area rarely do I hear people talking about NASCAR. Just the other day I overheard two people talking about these same drivers possibly missing the Chase. If this shows up in the TV ratings as this progresses then the new format will have done it’s job.

In years past many fans lamented that the Championship was settled long before the last race of the season. This year it is not and cannot be settled until the last race at Homestead Miami Speedway.

I don’t wish any ill will on Keselowski, Earnhardt Jr. or Johnson but the next two races will be events to watch to see if they can win and get to the next round. It will also be exciting to see if other drivers can win or have issues to drop out. This is far from over, We will start the drama and excitement again with an even smaller set of drivers when the Elimination Round begins.

If you cannot get to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank Of America 500 it will be broadcast live on ABC, Saturday, October 11th 2014 at 7 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 302109 Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

 

Thoughts before the NASCAR Chase Contender Round Begins

The Challenger round for the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup has ended the first of three rounds of elimination for four drivers and teams prior to the finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. Since this was the first round we have not seen how it works or the strategy either used by the teams on purpose or by necessity. Here are some thoughts on the next two rounds.

It was amazing that at the bottom of the 16 drivers there were so many drivers so close in points at the last of the three races. This made the race for the twelfth and final spot interesting. Well as interesting as it can be watching drivers a lap or more down racing to make the next round of the Chase. Have you ever seen a race where being a lap or two down makes such a difference? The good thing is that as the number of Chase drivers gets smaller this will probably not be the case. If you’re a lap down you’re done.

In the race at Dover, the hype was that desperate drivers would take desperate measures to keep alive in the Chase. That was the whole point of the Chase, to give drivers hope to continue forward if they had a bad race. We didn’t see it, not at all. Could this mean that these drivers have been racing 100% regardless of the Chase format and they didn’t need a new Chase to encourage better racing?

The show that Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon put on during the first round begs the question why don’t they get three bonus points that carry over to the next and subsequent round. Sure you get a pass on the round you won in but not any of them needed it. This just might be more important in this round because anything can happen at Talladega, but then again Jeff Gordon had anything happen at New Hampshire. It only seems fair to reward wins reset them equal for the last race only.

Now begins the second of the three elimination rounds of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Will we see more of the same as we dwindle down twelve drivers to eight? What about the Talladega Super Speedway race, anything can happen there? Will we see the Chase drivers racing harder than ever for a win during the first two races in order to be safe come Talladega?

It appears to me that the risk in racing outweighs the reward such that it is more a game of Chess. If you do everything right you put yourself into a position to capitalize and perhaps get a win. If you don’t then you go on defense trying to minimize the damage to stay playing the game as long as possible.  Either way as the players dwindle there will be less to defend and more to go take. The next three weeks will tell the story.

The first race of the Contender Round begins at Kansas Speedway. If you cannot to the Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400, it will be shown on ESPN on Sunday, Oct. 5 starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing