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Report: NASCAR eyeing expanded Chase with eliminations, retooled points system

Jan 17, 2014, 9:01 PM EST

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NASCAR’s been hinting at changes for its top-tier Sprint Cup Series for some time, but a report tonight from Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer may have revealed just how big those changes could be.

In the report, Utter relays word from multiple sources that say NASCAR is looking at widening the current 12-driver field of its post-season Chase for the Sprint Cup to a total of 16 drivers.

Additionally, Utter writes that any driver who scores a win in the 26-race regular season would be “virtually” ensured of a spot in the Chase; should more than 16 different drivers win, the 16 with the most wins and highest in points would make the Chase.

But that’s not all, as according to Utter’s report, the Chase would then have a series of eliminations after the third, sixth, and ninth race in the 10-race stretch – each elimination taking out the four lowest Chase competitors in points – to create a four-driver battle for the championship in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Those four drivers would then be reset with the same amount of points, and the one who earned the most points at Homestead would win the Sprint Cup.

The sanctioning body has responded to the report in a statement from its chief communications officer, Brett Jewkes:

NASCAR has begun the process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format. This dialogue is the final phase of a multi-year process that has included the review of extensive fan research, partner and industry feedback and other data-driven insights. NASCAR has no plans to comment further until the stakeholder discussions are complete. We hope to announce any potential changes for the 2014 season to our media and fans very soon.

Utter’s report stresses that the proposed format could be changed before an official announcement takes place. That has been expected to happen later this month.

Over the last couple of months, NASCAR CEO Brian France has put fans and media alike on alert for possible tweaks to the current points system that would create more emphasis on winning races rather than maintaining consistency.

“…Do I think we have it perfect in terms of the right incentives to win? I don’t think we do,” he said in December during Champions Week in Las Vegas. “I think we can do – I’m not willing to say exactly what it’ll be, but I think we can do a little bit better. But I saw some things that I thought, hey, not that they weren’t trying to win, but that maybe the risk might have outweighed that, and we’ll be looking at that.”

France repeated this stance during an interview earlier this month on Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR Live radio show.

“We are not satisfied that we have the exact balance we want with winning, consistency, points, running for a championship,” he said to MRN. “We think we can make some tweaks to continue to incentivize risk taking and racing harder and so on. I made some remarks about that in Las Vegas and we’ll undoubtedly be coming with some things that put the incentive on winning races and putting things at the highest level.”

  1. charger383 - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    Brian France could screw up a steel ball

  2. laserw - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    NASCAR does have a problem – the Chase is boring and worthless.

    But the REAL problem that they haven’t addressed (because of the obvious issues) is the flagrant violation of NASCAR rules allowing the Chevrolet SS to race. For those who do not know, you actually have to sell the car you race – and Chevrolet did not sell a single Chevrolet SS until sometime in October and only sold ONE that month – no Chevrolet SS’s were sold during the first 26 races and over half of the Chase was over before a single Chevrolet SS was sold. There were only 198 Chevrolet SS’s sold by November’s end. Either Chevrolet lied about the availability of the SS or NASCAR permitted Chevrolet to race even though it never intended to sell the vehicle until about four or five races left in the season – the winner, driving a Chevrolet SS, in actually raced and won with a car that did not even meet eligibility rules of NASCAR during the “regular” season.

    But tinker with the Shampionship format and leave the real issue unaddressed.

    That is NASCAR.

    • testover6370 - Jan 18, 2014 at 7:21 PM

      And tell me, where can I buy a RWD, V8-powered, tube frame Camry? None of the cars NASCAR races are sold to the public. The only thing they have in common are names and stickers to make the headlights and grills look alike. Chevy could call theirs the Corvaire and it wouldn’t amount to any difference.

  3. nicholal79 - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    NASCAR should just adopted a point system like Formula 1! A driver shouldn’t get a point just for starting a race, as the current system!

  4. manik56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    dum dum dum dum dum…just give points to the top 15, weigh the points heavily towards winning, and scrap the chase. Brian France fell far from the tree.

  5. chad4208 - Jan 18, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    So in other words…..a driver could first in point by 2000 points but NOT make it into the chase because he was second every race, yet, some backmarker gets in because he drafted to the front at Talladega because everyone else wrecked, yet hes like 30th in points but only 7 different drivers won that year?

  6. chad4208 - Jan 18, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    “extensive fan research”
    obviously not because if they did they asked 2 year olds… People do not like the chase, they want a real champion, and this b.s. delegitimizes NASCAR even MORE. How can anyone in there right mind even consider such a thing making the scenerio I layed out possible?

  7. larry188 - Jan 18, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Until they realize they have a bunch of unrecognizable go-karts driving around in a circle, piloted by similarly dull, stereotypical robots (can just one not wear those stupid wraparound shades?), NASCARs product will continue to suffer. This “chase” ( which 98% of America calls “football season”) is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

  8. burm61 - Jan 18, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    To me, what Kenseth did in 03 with his 36 race consistency was way more impressive than any chase so far except 2011. Go back to the original product.

  9. jerseyshoreintrovert - Jan 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    The only part of this that doesn’t sound bad is the reset for the final race. That’s going to make the race interesting because the final 4 will have to go at it instead of avoiding a wreck. Of course scrapping The Chase would be ideal. As far as internet comment sections go, I don’t think I ever read anyone who has liked it.

  10. onbucky96 - Jan 19, 2014 at 5:27 AM

    Top 16 huh? Sorry Danica, not to 40. This “sport” is lame. Why waste 3+hrs watching a race, just catch the highlights at night on your favorite clip show. Damn Hillbillies….

  11. tampabayirish - Jan 19, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The biggest lie in Nascar is when every driver says something like: “Second place is just the first loser.” Because of the system, they all “points race.” NASCAR needs to reward winning to a much larger extent and perhaps only award points to the top 10 finishers in every race. The Chase needs help too. If they are going to keep the chase, I kind of like the idea of eliminations yielding a final four at Homestead.

  12. adamtw1010 - Jan 19, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    I think 12 drivers is too many for the Chase. Stick with 10.

    I think eliminations are a great idea, but only if the schedule is adjusted appropriately to create the most interesting trios possible. I’d also love to see Talladega become the season finale.

  13. chad4208 - Jan 19, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    I mis typed…. 16 drivers can win yet the points leader could have come in second every week, amassing a giant lead, yet not even have a chance to compete for the championship… That makes me sick…

    Its like a video game where you have specific challenges to perform
    -Daytona=Draft with 20 cars
    -Martinville-run into the back of 6 cars while finishing in the top 20
    -talledega-Avoid the big one. Crashing will be a deduction of 67.8 points
    -Kansas-6 points or 9 rubels…

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