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. Tony Kanaan isn’t counting, but Indianapolis 500 milestone means much

    May 23, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT

    Tony Kanaan Tony Kanaan

    Chip Ganassi Racing driver will make his 300th career start Sunday.

  2. GP2: Richie Stanaway and Status secure maiden victory

    May 23, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    After taking the lead at the start, Stanaway goes wire-to-wire to take his first GP2 win in Monaco.

  3. Alonso: McLaren “too fragile at the moment”

    May 23, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23:  Fernando Alonso of Spain and McLaren Honda drives during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Spaniard suffers another issue on his car during qualifying on Saturday, leaving him P15 on the grid before penalties.

  4. Formula E: Di Grassi disqualified, handing win to Jerome d’Ambrosio

    May 23, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Jerome D`Ambrosio (L-R) of Team Dragon Racing, Lucas Di Grassi of Team Audi Sport Abt and Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi of team edams-Renault pose during the victory ceremony after the 2015 Fia Formula E Berlin championships in Berlin May 23, 2015. Di Grassi won, D`Ambrosio placed second and Buemi placed third.  AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ        (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Audi Sport ABT driver delivers a crushing win in Berlin at the disused Tempelhof airport, only to then be disqualified in the hours following the race.

  5. WATCH LIVE: Eli Tomac defends Lucas Oil Pro Motocross points lead at Glen Helen

    May 23, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Photo: George Crosland/ProMotocross.com Photo: George Crosland/ProMotocross.com

    Live coverage from Glen Helen starts with the pre-race show at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra and continues with first motos at 5 p.m. ET. Second motos will be live on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET.

  6. Ricciardo frustrated to only qualify fourth in Monaco

    May 23, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo  during the qualifying session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Red Bull driver matches his best qualifying result of the season, but feels a top three grid slot was within reach.

  7. “Karamo” aside, Sage Karam looks for big things in second Indy 500

    May 23, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    A pink Camaro, a Justin Bieber reference and an improved maturity level: all in the second month of May for Chip Ganassi’s rising star, Sage Karam.

  8. Grosjean to face five place grid penalty in Monaco

    May 23, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Lotus F1 Team's French driver  Romain Grosjean  drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET        (Photo credit should read JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Lotus driver will start tomorrow’s race from 15th place on the grid.

  9. Will young guns buck veteran-dominated trend in Indy 500?

    May 23, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    WillJPMHelio Getty Images

    While the likelihood is of a veteran triumph, can one of IndyCar’s relative “next generation” break through in the Indianapolis 500?

  10. Vettel: Fight for pole impossible after fall in temperature

    May 23, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    Ferrari driver explains how the fall in temperature ahead of qualifying meant Ferrari could not challenge Mercedes in Monaco.

  11. Carlos Sainz Jr to start Monaco GP from pit lane

    May 23, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    Toro Rosso driver dropped to the back of the grid after failing to complete a weight check during qualifying on Saturday.

  12. Williams drivers hopeful of points in spite of poor Monaco GP qualifying

    May 23, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 21:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives during practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 21, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas limped to their worst qualifying results of the season in Monaco.

  13. Will Power: “It’s the first time I feel I have a shot at winning” Indianapolis 500

    May 23, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 - Coors Light Carb Day Getty Images

    Team Penske credits an oval-whelming improvement during his 2014 championship season.

  14. Lack of rhythm costs Rosberg in battle for pole in Monaco

    May 23, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg  drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg falls short in his bid for a third successive Monaco GP pole position.

  15. The best news of the Indy weekend: Hinchcliffe posts photo of him walking

    May 23, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe James Hinchcliffe

    Hinchcliffe, in a hospital gown, up and walking, in utterly fantastic news.

  16. Hamilton delighted with “incredibly special” Monaco pole

    May 23, 2015, 9:34 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton gestures as he celebrates  taking the pole position in the parc fermee after the qualifying session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / POOL / BORIS HORVAT        (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Despite having 42 pole positions to his name before today, Lewis Hamilton had never had one in Monaco – until now, that is.

  17. Hamilton storms to first Monaco GP pole position

    May 23, 2015, 9:06 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton  drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton rallies to claim pole position for the first time in Monaco.

  18. WATCH LIVE: Monaco GP qualifying on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET

    May 23, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After Sebastian Vettel finished fastest in practice, can Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes for pole position today?