The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is about to have one of its tightest finishes in its 62-year history. And yet, NASCAR fans still don’t like the points system under which it will be decided.
The Chase system, which has been under scrutiny since its inception in 2004, has been nothing if not a point of controversy. When created, its main purpose was to allow a NASCAR champion to be crowned in a thrilling finale and give the fans something to talk about at the water coolers for weeks to come.
So far, all it’s done is give us something to complain about.
In a poll taken by NASCAR.com, 58% of voters said they don’t like the Chase, and never will. As I write this, that’s roughly 32,000 fans out of the 56,000 surveyed.
Sure, the Chase gave us the closest finish in NASCAR history back in 2004, and left us with fairly riveting finishes in ’05, ’06, and ’08. And sure, during the Chase’s brief history, the title winner has never been crowned before the final race.
So why don’t fans like the Chase? Same reason as always: It isn’t fair.
No matter how close the title race is, it doesn’t change the fact that the drivers who usually win the title are not the ones who deserve it. More often than not, the best driver has come away empty-handed.
The complaint is that guys like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Cale Yarborough all made history by having to perform well every single week, instead of just 10. It used to be that you had to be consistent through 36 races, or how ever many were on the schedule back in the day.
Now, all you have to do is perform well in 10 races; half of which occur on the cookie-cutter type tracks that nobody likes.
We really can’t even argue that we’re getting to see better title finishes under the Chase format. While we’ve had zero title races determined before the final race during the Chase era, we’ve had exactly one finish come right down to the wire.
Heck, I saw exactly that many down-to-the-wire finishes in my three years I watched NASCAR before the Chase was implemented. And it was a fair race, won by the guy who was the best driver over the course of the full season.
The problem with the Chase is that, every single year, we see one guy win the title and we are automatically supposed to assume that he is the best driver of all time, when all he had to do was perform well for a fraction of the season; not the whole thing.
The Chase system isn’t fair. Plain and simple. In sports, the fans always want to see the best man or team win. It may not always be the outcome they want, and it may not always be a nail-biter.
But at least it’s fair. Unlike the Chase.