Talk about starting the 2014 Sprint Cup season with a bang.
A host of reports suggests NASCAR will overhaul its points and Chase system again. Fans could see 16 teams, eliminations during the Chase and four driver tied going into Homestead. With such a massive transition, let’s break things down Bert Convy style.
Win: The Little Guy
NASCAR has a money problem. Top teams have the resources to devour the competition. The best case scenario is someone like Kurt Busch making the Chase with Furniture Row Racing.
That’s out the window in this new system. Finally, NASCAR will guarantee that if you win a race, you make the Chase. This gives guys like David Ragan and Paul Menard and others a chance to take risks, try and win races and see what happens next. This helps small teams, will eventually help with sponsorships and deepen the competitive pool.
Some already call the proposed system a gimmick. Here’s the issue that will change 25 races leading into the Chase. If a driver wins, there is much less incentive to care about the rest of the season. Jimmie Johnson can experiment for Chase tracks for half the season. The Daytona winner is essentially set for six months. Carl Edwards has made a career on finishing strong. That won’t matter as much the first 2/3 of the Sprint Cup Season. Teams that do qualify early will then have to adjust their approach to earn points during the Chase. We will see more highs and lows in 2014.
Draw: Racing Competition
On one hand, winning means much more. That will create more creative risks which should make for more entertaining racing. NASCAR also has a more meaningful and dramatic playoff, which will culminate in a Super Bowl at Homestead. That race can be special when it matters.
But if NASCAR thinks it had a problem at Richmond with teams conspiring for one extra point, they have no idea what will be in store come 2014. The new points system ratchets up incentive for those not in the Chase to mess around with those in the Chase, spin out with ten laps to go and give up a spot (or two or 10) in the final few laps to help out someone. The NASCAR police will deserve overtime, hazard pay and a nap after every race.
There is no such thing as a status quo in NASCAR. It sure should make the 2014 Sprint Cup season much more interesting to watch.