Sep 16, 2012; Joliet, IL, USA; The numbers of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who made the Chase are displayed on a wall during the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

How About A Chase Only Points System?

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Drivers like Gordon (24) and Kenseth (17) are already out of championship contention despite good finishes recently. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

This season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup seems to have already come down to a three-car race. Brad Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 14 points after 4 of the 10 Chase races so far with Denny Hamlin trailing 23 points behind the other two. After that, the rest of the Chase drivers are almost a full race back already and those chasing the three leaders already used their best shot to catch back up, that being the wild, wild race at Talladega.

Unfortunately for guys like Matt Kenseth (12th in points, 62 behind), Jeff Gordon (6th, 42 behind), and Greg Biffle (9th, 49 behind) who finished 1st, 2nd, and 6th at Talladega while the other 9 Chase drivers were involved in the massive crash on the last lap, they were unable to make up any significant ground. Points leader Keselowski was able to come out of the wreckage to manage a 7th place finish, Hamlin came out in 14th, and Johnson in 17th which kept Kenseth, Gordon, and Biffle from making up any significant ground.

With NASCAR’s current system for awarding points, the winner receives 43 points (plus 3 bonus points for winning and 1 for leading a lap) and 43rd (last place) receives 1 point, meaning that each position is worth 1 point. So for a guy like Gordon who is 42 points behind, that means he is an entire race behind in points already, which even with six races left is a lot to make up. Virtually, Keselowski, Johnson, and Hamlin would have to encounter horrid luck in one or more of the remaining races for anyone to gain significant ground.

Yesterday, I came across an article written by David Newton of ESPN.com bringing up the idea of having the Chase drivers use their own points system. The concept Newton had was simple, the best finishing Chase driver receives 12 points, the second best receives 11 points and so on, all the way down to the worst Chase driver in the race who would receive one point. This system mirrors the current points system so it’s not like a crazy idea that came out of left field, just a smaller version of it.

I put Newton’s system to work and came up with what the standings would currently look like if a Chase only points system was in place. It looked like this:

Chicagoland New Hamp. Dover Talladega Charlotte
Keselowski

12

7

12

9

Johnson

11

11

10

4

Hamlin

3

12

8

5

Kahne

10

8

4

7

Bowyer

6

9

7

1

Gordon

1

10

11

11

Stewart

9

6

2

2

Truex

7

2

9

6

Biffle

4

1

3

10

Harvick

5

5

5

8

Earnhardt

8

4

6

3

Kenseth

2

3

1

12

 

Kansas Martinsville Texas Phoenix Homestead Total

40

36

28

29

23

33

19

24

18

23

21

18

Standings (as of Talladega) with a Chase only points system:

1. Keselowski       Leader             1 (Actual Position in the Real System)

2. Johnson             -4                     2

3. Gordon               -7                     6

4. Kahne                -11                    4

5. Hamlin              -12                     3

6. Truex Jr.           -16                     8

7. Bowyer              -17                    5

tie. Harvick          -17                     10

9. Earnhardt Jr.  -19                     11

10. Stewart           -21                     7

11. Biffle                -22                     9

tie. Kenseth          -22                     12

Aside from Keselowski and Johnson still being first and second, things are significantly different with a Chase only system. Basically, this shows that a system such as this would not kill a driver’s title chances with one poor finish.

This especially rings true for a guy like Gordon, who had the stuck throttle at Chicagoland in the first Chase race that relegated him to a 35th place finish in that race. Since then, Gordon has finished 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd but has made up no significant ground in the points, only in positions.

A Chase only system gives everyone a better chance at staying in title contention longer, instead of eliminating drivers within the first three or four races. That’s what NASCAR originally brought the Chase about for, right? They wanted to give as many drivers as possible a chance to win the championship on the last day of the season. In this system, you only need to be within 11 points to take the points lead on any given Sunday. It seems this system is the best way to make the Chase a legitimate “Playoff” because it keeps non-Chase drivers from affecting the points

I will be updating this weekly until the end of the season and we’ll see what the points would look like under this scenario. I realize this does not change anything points wise in real-life, but hey, isn’t it fun to wonder?

All statistical information obtained from NASCAR.com

Original points system idea from David Newton of ESPN.com

Follow me on Twitter for more NASCAR news and info: @Adam_Huth

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Tags: Brad Keselowski Denny Hamlin Greg Biffle Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson Matt Kenseth The Chase

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