Monday, November 17, 2014

COMMENTARY: Dear NASCAR...

Dear NASCAR;

Thank you for a wildly entertaining 2014 season.

Strategic rule changes ratcheted-up the level of competition, allowing drivers to race side-by-side – two and three-wide – without falling victim to the dreaded “aero push.” That process will continue in 2015, with a reduction in horsepower, aerodynamic changes and other adjustments, all designed to put more “race” in the race cars.

An exciting crop of hungry young drivers burst onto the scene this season, with names like Larson, Elliott, Dillon, Blaney, Wallace and Buescher ensuring that the sport’s future is in secure and talented hands.

Your new, 2014 Chase format was an unqualified success, delivering a steady diet of drama and intrigue that began with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s popular victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 and carried all the way through Sunday’s mind-boggling finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. An increased emphasis on winning got drivers “up on the wheel” like never before and produced fireworks, both on and off the race track. It struck a fair and appropriate balance between winning and consistency, culminating in a late-race Homestead championship duel that pitted one of the biggest winners in the sport against a driver who had not won a race all season.

It brought out the best in your drivers and teams, encouraging hard driving, aggressive strategies and a willingness to roll the competitive dice. It virtually eliminated the term “good point day” from our vocabulary, and made every race worth winning once again.

It provided new challenges that many long-established stars were unable to overcome.

It allowed smaller teams like Richard Petty Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing to bask – albeit briefly -- in the championship spotlight, allowing us to root for the underdog in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by high-dollar super teams.

It allowed four hungry drivers to compete for the sport’s ultimate prize in an unprecedented, winner-take-all finale, ultimately crowning a deserving, first-time champion.

It out the passion and emotion back into our sport, prompting drivers and crew members to stand up and fight for what they believe in. We’re not looking for a weekly ration of post-race fisticuffs, but this 2014 season offered a much-needed reminder of how this glorious game – properly conducted – can stir our emotions and command our attention.

It brought fans back to the grandstands, with sold-out crowds at the season’s final two events and increased television ratings for the first time in recent memory. Yes, there were still empty seats at most events and viewership was down for the season as a whole, but an upward trend at season’s end is cause for encouragement, and something to build on.

Just one request, if I may.

Ignore the pleas of those who want to continue “tweaking” the Chase in 2015, especially those poor, misguided souls who would institute a separate points system for Chase contenders. No matter what they say, there is a significant difference between finishing 16th and 43rd. The championship points should continue to reflect that reality.



Please, NASCAR, resist the temptation to do “just one more thing” by micromanaging a system that succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in 2014. Bask in the success of the season just completed, and leave the Chase alone.

56 comments:

  1. TRYINGTOBEAFAN11:25 AM

    Will viewers eventually sour on NASCAR because of its preference for the now, and not the real? When every race finishes with a late restart, and every championship battle is built around a flawed system of identifying the best in favor the random, won’t that expectation of the wild start to feel like the normal? What happens when artificially tight racing becomes uninspiring and expected?



    Sports need to be grounded in moments that naturally and organically produce dramatic and memorable moments. In its embrace of the instant, NASCAR is walking a path far from those roots.
    -

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  2. I agree with everything you say, but - and you knew this was coming - I offer one final tweak. Give the driver with the traditional or classic points lead, who, if not already in the final four after the 35th race, a bye into the season finale at Homestead. I think the points leader should always be in the finale.

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    1. Anonymous2:51 PM

      I agree with this!

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  3. Brandon in TN11:43 AM

    I wasn't sure how 1 race was going to play out since the 3rd elimination race from each segment was very good. I was very very very pleased as to how this race turned out. A nail biter to the end.

    My only request Dave, have Ford get rid of the separate nose piece. It has caused almost as many cautions as a worn tire. :)

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    1. Yeah, what's up with those fake Ford grilles? A few more rivets or some extra glue would sure help!

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  4. Anonymous12:03 PM

    While I'm Old School points system and still not sure about the whole chase thing. I have to agree it was exciting and stressful. Maybe do like some have said. Nascar should add the regular season point leader to the final four. I'm just happy as hell my driver won the chase. Congrats to Kevin and SHR.

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  5. Scott in PA12:28 PM

    I disagree with putting the regular season points leader in the final four. Let them race their way in like everyone else has to after all, there is no trophy for winning the Daytona 350, is there? I was unsure about how this season was going to play out. I have not seen racing like this since I started following the sport when Wide World of Sports carried snippets of the race. Kudos to Nascar, you hit the ball out of the park! One other thing, I agree, something does need to be done regarding the Ford nose piece since it has caused so many cautions.

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  6. Mitch Dunaway12:30 PM

    Well said sir.

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  7. Anonymous12:36 PM

    Well said - I sure hope NASCAR listens

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  8. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Dave,
    Being a long time listener, I couldn’t agree with you more….NO MORE SUGGESTIONS on how to change the format. This year was a winner! NASCAR should be very proud! You are 100% right, winning and consistency were the talk of the chase…Great Job NASCAR!
    Totally Gruntled!

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  9. Anonymous12:52 PM

    The only tweek I would like to see is when they pick the final 4 - I feel it should be the best 4 with at least 1 win..........This year Jeff Gordan would have been in and Ryan Newman would not.

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  10. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Perfect Dave!! Leave it as it is NASCAR!!

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  11. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Rules Tweaks.... Eliminate the "Landing Flaps" where teams pull the skirting out from in front of the rear tires. A different material should be required and penalties if they monkey with it. Add the driver with the cumlative most wins throughout the season and the driver with most cumlative points. In both cases, only if that driver isn't already in the final championship group.

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  12. Anonymous1:29 PM

    I still think the old point system worked better, taking the spotlight off the less influencial teams is just wrong, i have a better idea how about we cap the amount of money a team can spend on a race car, how about all of the teams can only spent the same amount of money on each race, put the racing back in the drivers hands, and take away the engineers, and see what happens, the cars can still be made to be as safe as they are today, but put the racing in the drivers hands again and see what happens.

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    1. This format put two small teams, Richard Petty Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing in the Chase for the first time. How is that "taking the spotlight off the less influential teams?" And how would you enforce your proposed spending cap? Armed accountants at the shop door?

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  13. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Let's see here - NASCAR standings show that Ryan Newman is the 2nd best NASCAR driver for 2014....however.....

    Ryan Newman has 0 (yes that's a zero) wins and an average finish of 12.7 over 36 races.

    Jeff Gordon has 4 (yes that's a four) wins and an averaged finish of 10.4 over 36 races.

    Yet because of a driver decided it was better and showed good maturity and respect for the sport to drive a guy into a wall to get a single position (not even for the win mind you), all us NASCAR fans are to just shut up and say - oh well let bygones be bygones... NOPE - SORRY - you want a tweak - NO WINS, NO CHAMPIONSHIP ATTEMPT IN LAST RACE....that's just the way it should be. PROVE to NASCAR fans that winning is actually important.

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    1. Apparently you should review some old tapes of Gordon racing to see what he has done for a win...

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    2. Winning was never a "requirement" under any points system NASCAR has ever had until now, and even now it is not a requirement. It is more a statistical anomaly that there was never a NASCAR champion without a win in all previous points systems were consistency was the reward, not wins. Suddenly the only thing people seem to care about is winning and that is the only thing that is important. This system seems to be a good blend of the new Win and you're in system and the old consistency is they way system. Now, Newman would have had to have been a race winner to win the 2014 championship, 2nd did not cut it. Oh well, my .02 for the day.

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    3. Anonymous9:17 AM

      When it mattered the most Newman had the best average finish of all the drivers.

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    4. Anonymous2:09 AM

      he did not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Logano did..pure BS.

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  14. Anonymous1:41 PM

    EVERYONE needs to GET OVER the old point system it's GONE not to be returned. It does not matter where anyone would have ended up because of the old point system, it NO LONGER EXISTED. I have been watching NASCAR for over 20 years and this season was wild and I LOVED IT TO PIECES !!!! Please NASCAR just leave it alone Dave you could not be more right I think NASCAR has finally connected with the perfect tone . I hope they just leave everything alone.

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    1. Anonymous2:29 AM

      ..well lI think showing who won under the old points system and who is robbed by the current is a very telling reminder of how the "Champion" is being dumbed down. May they post those pesky points to drive home how wrong it is. Hamlin and Newman for instance...Hamlin would not have even made on the board the no points system, and he was 14th in the Chase system..Newman made 7th. It shows the diluting of a Champion, the pesky fact Nascar and yes man don't want you to see.

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  15. Anonymous2:08 PM

    AMEN. Praise the godfather

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  16. Anonymous2:21 PM

    Points leader before the Chase starts should get a 15-25 point bonus going in.

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    1. What if the points leader has no wins? Won't that just drive many insane?

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  17. Dave here's an idea... clone Gordon and the final four can be Gordon vs. Gordon vs. Gordon vs. Gordon... and then just to be fair, throw in one more Gordon to make it a five car race to the end. Apparently that's what the "fans" want... smh. Congrats NASCAR and SHR - a well deserved victory in ANY format standards

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    1. There's enough interest here that NASCAR should consider adding the traditional/classic points leader to the finale as a fifth driver if he's not already in the final four. Just sayin'.

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    2. I'm not sure that having "enough interest here" really matters to anyone. Except us, that is. ;)

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  18. Anonymous3:29 PM

    You are sick Karen !

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  19. Anonymous6:03 PM

    Ronald from Texas. I'm Grutelled! # Leave it alone!

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    1. Mike Thiltgen7:29 AM

      I see alot of kool-aid drinkers. I guess me not going to the races or tuneing it in isn't going to change anything? If you all don't see anything wrong with Kyle(I am not a fan of his) finishing 2nd and third then getting crashed at Dega by someone else not wrong or Jeff with two second place finishes and getting crashed as the leader on g.w.c. not wrong I guess I am wasting my time trying to get you to see the light! Brian France thinks he is in charge and that is just how far out of touch he is because anybody with the ability to think knows that the fans ARE IN CHARGE! Next year restrictor plates,mandatory shocks,spings,rear gears,ride heights,fixed spoiler,etc,etc,etc. Where is it going to stop? I thought it was a race. 36 I.R.O.C. races and where are they?

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  20. Joe Giles11:38 PM

    How come all the Gordon fans are crying? If Gordon would of finished better at Texas or for that matter any of the other 2 races in that segment of the Chase he would of had more points then Newman and would of made it to the final four. I agree with what Dave said 100%.

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  21. Anonymous2:26 AM

    ...Goodness the world has gone mad...a collective bunch of guys with the most wins were not there at the end..many people notice that elephant in the room. It worked out for Nascar this year, but why do we need a playoff format in motor sports? It does not work. This isn't one team against a team..it at its worst has you playing with non playoff people that ruin your chances. In the reality of this insane format..by definition this is a ONE RACE CHAMP people!!!!! One Race. Where is the consistency for the whole year. Some genius should be able to come up with a simple formula for wins, top 5's and top 10's..that is your winner. And no judging from first hand conversation and looking all over the internet hinterland the majority DO NOT LIKE THIS. On the flip side, the coward Harvick got it, and how fitting his "karna" will have a ***around his Championship.

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  22. Anonymous7:07 AM

    Why bother with this ridiculously long 36 race season? Just hold 10 races, reset the points after every race, then make the last race the decider for the title!

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    1. Would you really be happy with a 10-race season?

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  23. Anonymous7:31 AM

    The final race drama felt very manufactured. Have no problem with the playoff to create excitement for some sort of trophy but to crown a series champ by the results of one race is too gimmicky for me.

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  24. I too am extremely gruntelled! Awesome season, great chase! Looking forward to next season! Can't wait!

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  25. I thoroughly enjoyed the Chase format, but if I had to make one change, it would be for bonus points from wins carrying over in the Chase. Regular season win bonus points count in the first round, then Chase win bonus points should carry over in each round of the Chase. If you win two of the first three races, you'd get 6 extra points at the beginning of the second and third rounds (as long as you advance). Homestead can still be a first to the finish, that was fun.

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  26. Anonymous9:00 AM

    Eventually there will be an all in ten lap dash for the championship. That way Danica will have a chance by the 7th or 8th debris restart. And Brain will get even better TV ratings.

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  27. Anonymous10:23 AM

    Leave it as it is for another year and see if next year is just as good. I like the pressure on these guys. Let 'em EARN all that money.

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    1. Anonymous11:31 PM

      What happens when they take away 125HP?

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    2. Anonymous3:44 PM

      don't count caution laps and no pit stops under caution all pit stops under green restart where you are running when caution comes out
      no free laps

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  28. Anonymous11:46 AM

    For the "old school"fans complaining about the new points system messing up the racing- the race hasn't changed, points aren't earned until after the race is over. That's like saying fantasy football had destroyed the NFL. You're not race fans, you're point system fans.

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  29. Anonymous1:35 PM

    If they could just limit these end of race debris cautions to bunch up the field.....

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    1. When 43 cars run three inches from the wall all day, debris cautions happen. Did you notice that 90% of the cars had significant right-side damage at the end of the race?

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  30. This was an incredible year for racing! Can't wait for Daytona.

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  31. Anonymous3:41 PM

    I guess a person's view of the chase depends on what you like. Personally, I think the driver/team that does the best over the WHOLE season (however that is defined) should be the champion. There is no need for a playoff system in racing, except to manufacture fake excitement (kinda like "debris" cautions), because each team races the same schedule and every other team each week, give or take different backmarkers. In other sports the teams do not play the same exact schedule so a playoff makes more sense. So I've reconciled this in my mind as Harvick is the "2014 Chase Champion", not the season champion. Therefore all the Chase championships in the last 10 years cannot be compared to the season champions of the past. JJ is a 6-time Chase champion and nothing more. Scott from Maine

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  32. Anonymous7:07 PM

    Am I the only one to be suspicious that with 20 laps to go the Top 4 was the Final 4!? Come on.

    And Newman all of a sudden has a car to contend for the lead when he barely had one ALL SEASON LONG! Come on,

    Did everyone else lay down for the Final 4 or did the Final 4 get the "NASCAR nod"?

    Come on.
    Call me skeptical but a little too scripted...

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    1. And yet you still wasted your time watching a "scripted" race, then coming here to whine about it. Interesting.

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  33. Anonymous8:33 PM

    What I don't like is the final point standing for the last 10 races, if you were NOT in the top 16 the best you can finish is 17 , you can get more gain more points/ better finishes than some drivers in the top 16 , but you still will be 17 . that makes a difference in your point fund check.. there should be a re adjustment / FROM 5TH on back

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    1. Anonymous10:44 AM

      Yeah, ask the 42 team how that feels. They would have finished in the top 10, 8th actually, under the non-contrived point system. A seat at the banquet, more prize money, etc...

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  34. Anonymous11:28 PM

    Sick to death of NASCAR cramming Toyota down our throat's. "Greed" Now they want to take 125 HP away? Why don't they just rename it (The Toyota Slow Car Series) They need to quit lying about a race sell out. Did anyone see the stands? 1/3 of the seats covered up with tarp's and a hell of a lot of empty seats through the stands. Is anybody sick of hearing the term "they made contact" ? If one driver hit's another driver, call it the way it is. Announcers have no balls!

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    1. Congratulations on making yourself look silly. If you had spent 10 seconds doing the research before speaking, you would know that there are no seats underneath those tarps in Turn One. The were removed when the track was reconfigured in 2003, after the variable-degree banking impacted the sight lines. Anything else?

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  35. Is there anything NASCAR fans won't complain about??? My god people, this was some of the best racing in years. You people would complain if you were hung with a new rope! I think people think that if they call in and complain long enough, that NASCAR will change something. I'm tired of all these damn changes! Next year is a whole new set of rules, again. Dave, I know you want everyone that calls in to be able to voice their opinion, and I respect that. I enjoy hearing other peoples opinions & comments, to a point. Don't know if you guys pay attention to your ratings, but the calls about certain subjects go on for too many days. There IS a point when there are no new points of view being brought up, and hearing the same things day after day drive myself & about a dozen of my friends away from the channel for days, sometimes a week or two. Don't have a great answer for that but possibly after a certain subject drags on and nothing new is being brought up, you could say after tomorrow we won't take any more calls on this subject.

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  36. Anonymous12:59 PM

    i think the chase sucks. no matter the format. run the races, no resets , and whoever is on top at the end wins. no i'm not a Gordon fan if your wondering. did anyone ever think that NASCAR started circling the drain when king BZF started making changes i.e. the chase, COT , and cookie cutter tracks and IROC cars. if IROC was the way to go they would still be around and very popular. if granted the powers that be for one day to make changes they would be 1. eliminate the chase 2. start only 36 cars no provisionals fastest 36 race the others go home fastest starts first. 3. eliminate lucky dog earn your lap(s) back the old fashioned way pass the leader. 4. take the cuffs off the teams and crew chiefs innovate not just all the cars with different stickers. just some ideas for thought agree or not thats cool. i welcome the feedback

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