Holiday Bench Racing – Pass The Shrimp And Dump The Chase

Charlotte, NC – Thank goodness for bench racing.

With all the on-track action down for the holidays, bench racing ? or conversation about racing ? is at full throttle. No matter where we go these days, everyone wants to know what?s going on behind the scenes, who?s landing where, what the changes for next season will be.

At a holiday party yesterday, we were asked about changes in NASCAR for next season. After we detailed some of the driver, sponsor and other changes for next season, the interested party ? not really a race fan – asked about a change in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship format. When we replied we thought there weren?t going to be any ?tweaks? to the format next season, our friend stated ?that?s too bad, they really need to dump that thing and start over.?

The answer interested us and we inquired why they felt this way.

?It?s too convoluted,? said the partygoer. ?The guy who finishes first in the standings after the first 26 races gets bupkiss (nothing), and the rest of the guys outside the Chase pretty much have nothing to race for the rest of the season.?

Hmmmmmm?. There?s more to this we thought, so we asked if they had a vote, how they would fix the Chase?

?Well, I?m a big college basketball fan and I love the NCAA Tournament,? said my friend as he popped open another holiday beverage. ?It would be great to have all the teams in the Chase.?

We asked how so?

?Well, the first thing I would do is reward the regular season champion,? they stated. ?There?s gotta be something for a guy like Jeff Gordon who steamrolls the competition during the regular season. Maybe $5 million and a cool trophy. It?s got be worth something. This year, Gordon got nothing but a limp handshake.?

Now my friend was really rolling.

?If it was me, I would take the top 43 teams in put them in the Chase ? no previous points, no ranking, nothing,? they continued. ?Everyone starts the same, no wins, no losses, no points, just like a post-season basketball or football tournament. That would be the first benefit. Nobody gets disenfranchised and everybody?s favorite team is in the ?playoffs.??

I told my friend that sounded way too much like professional hockey.

?Nope, having everyone in the Chase is the beauty of it,? they stated as more from the group began to listen in. ?You run the Chase it like a tournament. You still have 10 races in the Chase and in each race, you award 43 points for a win down to one point for 43rd. At the end of two races, you eliminate the bottom 10 in the points from championship contention. Two races later, 10 more get cut. With four races left, you eliminate 10 more and now you are down to 13 racing for the title over the final four events. You still wind up with the same number of cars and drivers in the Chase as you have now, but maybe they aren?t the Top-13 from the regular season.?

This is starting to get interesting.

?It?s a beautiful thing,? continued the partygoer. ?You maintain the integrity of the Chase but you let everyone play. Every team gets an additional chance to win the championship. You?d have dark horse teams that struggled during the regular season get a shot at the title. Think of all the attention the ?Cinderellas? ? the 12 or 14 seeds that get to the second or third round of the NCAA basketball tournament every year. You could have the same thing in NASCAR too. Fans would love it, television would love it. It would be a big boost for NASCAR.?

You know, this might work.

?Anything has to be better than what they?ve got now,? said my friend, as he turned to head off for another plate of shrimp. ?You can tell NASCAR for me that it?s just not that interesting if everyone isn?t involved.?

We told them we would ?pass that on? to the folks at 1801 Speedway Boulevard, but we didn?t think you?d see their changes anytime soon.

By that time, however, it didn?t matter as our friend had already moved on to more important things like quizzing the host where all the shrimp went.

Like we said at the top, thank goodness for bench racing.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

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