Sep 30, 2012; Dover, DE, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) leads Brad Keselowski (2) during the AAA 400 at Dover Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

A Chase-only Points System Creates New Leader After Charlotte


If NASCAR had a Chase-only points system, Jimmie Johnson (above) would be tied with Brad Keselowski for the points lead after Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

This past weekend’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway could have been described as less than thrilling, containing long green-flag runs before fuel mileage came into play at the end. Clint Bowyer had enough fuel to outlast everyone else and scored his first career win at Charlotte.

The most compelling part of the race looked to be when Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe went into their now famous fuel mileage strategy, but ran out of gas coming to the last pit stop. That caused Keselowski to go a lap down and fall outside of the top-10 though he dominated the majority of the race. His two main challengers for the championship, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, both finished in the top-5 at Charlotte, but Keselowski maintained his points lead despite his fuel stumble.

Now, if we revisit last week where I put David Newton’s Chase-only points theory to the test, the lead Keselowski has in real life doesn’t exist in the Chase-only system. If you’ll remember, in this system the best finishing Chase driver scores 12 points, the second best finishing scores 11, and so on down to the worst finishing Chase driver who scores 1 point. Also worth pointing out is the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr., a Chase driver, missed the Charlotte race and will miss this weekend’s race at Kansas due to multiple concussions suffered in the past six weeks.

Here’s what the points would look like in a Chase-only system after the Charlotte race:

Chicagoland New Hamp. Dover Talladega Charlotte
Keselowski

12

7

12

9

                6
Johnson

11

11

10

4

              10
Hamlin

3

12

8

5

              11
Kahne

10

8

4

7

                8
Bowyer

6

9

7

1

              12
Gordon

1

10

11

11

                2
Stewart

9

6

2

2

                5
Truex

7

2

9

6

                7
Biffle

4

1

3

10

                9
Harvick

5

5

5

8

                3
Earnhardt

8

4

6

3

                0
Kenseth

2

3

1

12

                4

 

Kansas Martinsville Texas Phoenix Homestead Total

46

46

39

37

35

35

24

31

27

26

21

22

Standings with a Chase only points system after Charlotte:

1. Keselowski       Leader             1 (Position in Actual Standings)

tie. Johnson           Leader             2

3. Hamlin               -7                       3

4. Kahne                 -9                      5

5. Bowyer              -11                    4

tie. Gordon            -11                    9

7. Truex Jr.            -15                    7

8. Biffle                  -19                     6

9. Harvick             -20                     10

10. Stewart           -22                    8

11. Kenseth          -24                    11

12. Earnhardt Jr. -25                    12

As you can see, in this system Johnson and Keselowski would be in a tie for first place because of Keselowski’s stumble at Charlotte. Denny Hamlin also moved back up to third place in the points after his second place finish in Saturday night’s race.

Bowyer, with his win, moves up into the top-5 where he already is in the real points system. On the flip side, Jeff Gordon’s poor performance dropped him from third to a tie for fifth with Bowyer in the imaginary system, whereas in the actual points he dropped to 9th.

The most important point to note about Bowyer and Gordon’s performances at Charlotte is that even though they were polar opposites in the race, they would still be able to take the points lead in one race under the Chase-only system. In the actual points system, Bowyer sits fourth, but is a pretty distant 28 points behind. As for Gordon, his 35th place finish in the first of the Chase at Chicagoland gave him no room for error, so his mediocre Charlotte performance dropped him to 9th and 50 points behind, which is insurmountable at this point.

In the real system, the championship still looks to be decided between only Keselowski, Johnson, and Hamlin with a slight chance for Bowyer. In the Chase-only system, everybody back to 10th place Tony Stewart is within two races of taking the points lead and so far it seems that only Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth would be eliminated to this point.

I’ll be back next week after the Kansas race to see how many cars are still eligible to win the championship in the Chase-only format. After only two weeks of monitoring this type of system, it already appears that this would be a better way to go to creating exciting championship battles year in and year out.

All statistical information obtained from NASCAR.com.

Original idea for the Chase-only system by David Newton of ESPN.com.

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

Tags: Brad Keselowski Clint Bowyer Dale Earnhardt Jr Denny Hamlin Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson Matt Kenseth The Chase