Skip to content

Should NASCAR allow rain-shortened finishes in Chase?

Jul 10, 2014, 10:06 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Terry Renna) AP

In light of Sunday’s rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway – which was actually rescheduled from Saturday night’s rain-out – what happens if NASCAR is faced with a similar situation at one or more races in the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup?

Given how important the Chase for the Sprint Cup is, particularly this season with the expanded and revamped format and the three rounds of eliminations within it, I believe NASCAR has an obligation to run all 10 Chase races at their fully scheduled length – even if weather is an issue.

In other words, there should be no rain-shortened events in the Chase, even if it means coming back a day or even two later.

The reason is fairly straightforward:

NASCAR could afford to cut short the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona because it was one of just 26 regular season races and there was limited impact that it would have on the upcoming Chase.

Now had that race been IN the Chase, it’s a whole different story.

While NASCAR obviously runs races for fans both attending at-track and watching on TV, who are the races REALLY for in the whole big scheme of things?

With all due respect to fans, the Chase is entertainment for them, but the end result is not. Rather, the races — not to mention the resulting prize money — are for the racers, the drivers who are fighting for the championship.

And it’s my opinion that if NASCAR is going to spend millions of dollars on the revised Chase, it must run all laps of all races in it.

Even if it means finishing a race on Monday or even Tuesday.

Think about this very possible scenario: What if we get to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale and it rains? I’ve been at Homestead when it has rained in the past and some might strong storms can come blowing in off the ocean literally a burnout away.

What if NASCAR gets the final race underway, only to have it interrupted by rain? And what if the rain doesn’t end – or show any chance of ending – until well after midnight?

Will the race resume in the wee hours of the morning?

Unlikely.

First off, the TV ratings would be about equal to those of a late-night infomercial, which won’t benefit anyone.

Second, does NASCAR really want all that noise emanating from a speedway when there are hundreds of homes with a few thousand people trying to sleep within a half-mile of HMS?

Or what if the rain-interrupted race stops after the halfway point, say 140 of the scheduled 267 laps. Given that this year’s Chase finale features a four-driver, winner-take-all to determine the champion, does NASCAR do what it did at Daytona and award the title to the driver who was furthest ahead when the rain interrupted things?

That type of action would all but destroy all the goodwill and anticipation NASCAR has built up to this point about the most radical changes to the Chase format since it debuted in 2004.

Sure, we all want to see a race completed on time and on the day it was originally scheduled. But if you cut short a race or let fans or TV dictate how things should end up, NASCAR would do a huge disservice not only to itself but everyone else — including the fans and TV viewers.

Do you see the conundrum NASCAR is facing?

That’s why there’s no other way to determine a true champion than to run all laps in all 10 Chase races, even if it means coming back a day or two later to wrap things up if weather prohibits the race from being finished on it’s originally scheduled date.

Even if a number of fans are unable to stay an extra day to watch the finished product (due to work, school, etc.) at the track, NASCAR owes it to those same fans that their favorite driver – provided he’s still in contention in the Chase – has a chance to go all the way and be crowned series champion.

Even if those same fans aren’t present in-person or in front of the TV to watch the race and cheer their favorite driver on..

Anything less and the championship will be cheapened greatly, not just for fans but more so drivers and the integrity of the sport – and that’s the last thing NASCAR wants to do in such a pivotal year with such a pivotal format revision.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Joys of travel: Most of IndyCar community has to take red eyes back after Long Beach

    Apr 20, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    LAXredeye Getty Images

    The joys of return flights home from the West Coast for the IndyCar community..

  2. IndyCar notes: Andretti leads Honda contingent; Coletti quick but unlucky and more from Long Beach

    Apr 20, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    MA27lb Getty Images

    Another tough day at office for Honda, Newgarden comes up short of top-five and other tidbits from Long Beach.

  3. IndyCar: Saavedra cracks top-10 on debut with Ganassi at Long Beach

    Apr 20, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    LBw2w4 Getty Images

    Sebastian Saavedra has a clean, quiet, consistent weekend and ended P10 on debut for Ganassi.

  4. The saga of Coyne’s No. 18 at Long Beach: Moran’s lost debut leads to Daly’s long overdue chance

    Apr 20, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    It was a bizarre weekend for Dale Coyne’s No. 18, which saw one driver replaced before the weekend began, one injured before getting the chance to debut, and one finally getting a long overdue shot.

  5. Sir Patrick Stewart gave an awesome start command at Long Beach (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Sir Patrick Stewart command AP

    Long Beach got off to a great start, courtesy of Patrick Stewart’s enthusiastic command to start engines.

  6. Hamilton may have won again, but it was Raikkonen and Rosberg who stood out in Bahrain

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mideast Bahrain F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    It may have been a routine victory for Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, but both Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen showed some of the fight that has been lacking in recent months.

  7. Arrivabene: Vettel cost Ferrari double podium in Bahrain

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ferrari team principal believes two mistakes from the four-time world champion cost him a place on the podium in Bahrain.

  8. Bottas pleased to hang on for fourth place in Bahrain

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    A mistake by Sebastian Vettel allows Bottas to take fourth place on Sunday in Bahrain.

  9. Montoya, Castroneves riff on Penske quartet’s nationalities post-race at Long Beach

    Apr 19, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT

    JPMhelioLB Getty Images

    JPM, Helio laugh about the four nationalities represented at Team Penske.

  10. Dixon passes Bobby Unser for fifth on all-time list with 36th IndyCar win

    Apr 19, 2015, 7:41 PM EDT

    DixonBobby36 Getty Images

    Bobby Unser praises Scott Dixon, while Dixon himself downplays the accomplishment.

  11. MotoGP: Rossi wins in Argentina after Marquez clash

    Apr 19, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    MotoGp of Argentina - Qualifying Getty Images

    The nine-time world champion extends his lead at the top of the riders’ championship in MotoGP.

  12. Engine issue costs Maldonado shot at points finish

    Apr 19, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Romain Grosjean manages to salvage some points for Lotus in Bahrain, finishing seventh.

  13. Jones makes it an Indy Lights hat trick with win in Long Beach

    Apr 19, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Carlin Media Photo: Carlin Media

    Ed Jones survives streets of Long Beach to win Round 3 for Indy Lights.

  14. Ricciardo finishes sixth in Bahrain despite suffering engine failure at the final turn

    Apr 19, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    Ricciardo finishes the race in a blaze of glory, but holds on to sixth place for Red Bull.

  15. WATCH LIVE: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 19, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    LBwatchlive Getty Images

    Watch the third round of the IndyCar season, from the streets of Long Beach, at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  16. Vettel takes blame for causing front wing damage

    Apr 19, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    German driver was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop towards the end of the race in Bahrain after running over the kerbs at the final corner.

  17. Button fails to start Bahrain GP, live tweets the race instead

    Apr 19, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Another electrical problem for McLaren meant that Button was unable to line up on the grid for the race in Bahrain.

  18. WATCH: Indy Lights at Long Beach, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    Apr 19, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    IndyLights

    Watch the third round of the Indy Lights season today at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.