Viewership may be down, attendance may be down, but does NASCAR really think changing the rules of the game AGAIN is going to magically cure that? Seems that NASCAR’s answer to all that ails it is to change, change and change things. Apparently they have never heard Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and expecting different results. Well, in this case doing the same thing is changing the sport AGAIN. Can we not just go from one season to another without wholesale changes like this?
Some may not think that the change that has been hinted at is that big of a deal, and may even see the potential change as easier to understand, but as a diehard NASCAR fan I don’t have any issue or problem understanding the current scoring method. Most of us can indeed count past 43. I view the changes as yet one more thing to figure out as the season starts. It distracts from the racing, it distracts from the good part of the sport and frustrates me to no end.
I am also not in favor of changing the Chase format. Why, you may ask? Because in my opinion the integrity of the record books has already been compromised by instituting the Chase in the first place. There is Pre-Chase Era drivers and Championships and Chase Era drivers and Championships, NASCAR doesn’t need a third era. You simply cannot compare Richard Petty’s seven Championships to Jeff Gordon’s four because had the Chase format not been instituted Gordon would have won two additional Championships (2004 and 2007). Carl Edwards would have taken the 2008 Championship, and Jimmie wouldn’t be Mr. Five Time. As it stands there needs to be an asterisk in the books, but the damage is done, let’s move on and leave it be.
If the Chase were eliminated now or God forbid, a whole other format instituted, we will never be able to compare Championship results or have a history of the sport that makes any kind of sense. And to answer those that say, “yeah but Johnson winning all the time is boring and he has this Chase thing figured out”, I say to you, yes indeed it is and he does, but guess what like him or hate him, he has been the best in this format for the last five seasons and it is the burden of the other drivers to rise to the standard set by Johnson the 48 Team. The other 11 teams need to bring it to the track week after week and get it done. If at the end of the season, Johnson is crowned Champion again, then we know the other drivers failed. Simply changing the sport in an attempt to handicap a winner or level a playing field is ridiculous. If the others aren’t up to the challenge then they don’t deserve to win. Hamlin and Harvick came close this year proving the Chase format is not broken.
Confusion is never a good marketing strategy and changing the rules constantly is not going to draw more fans in, but it could frustrate current fans and cause them to move on to a sport they don’t have to re-learn each season. NASCAR, please, leave the drama to the drivers on the track and let the rest ride!