As NASCAR’s postseason playoffs thunder into Kansas Speedway this week for an end race in the Monster Energy Cup playoffs on Sunday, one inquiry continues.
Is this the most ideal approach to decide a Cup title?
First came The Chase, presented in 2004. It supplanted 65 years of season-long guides amassing toward crown a victor with an organization where the Top 10 drivers after 26 races contained a playoff field for the last 10 races. Whoever ordered the most focuses in those races won the title.
At that point, the Win and They’re In was actualized in 2014, guaranteeing drivers who won a customary season race a spot in a 16-driver, 10-race playoff. Four drivers would be disposed of from dispute like clockwork prompting a confrontation between four rivals in the finale at Homestead.
What’s more, in 2017, NASCAR added one more wrinkle to the Win and They’re In by embeddings stage dashing inside each race. Drivers could add focuses to their records by winning and putting in the best 10 out of three pre-decided portions of each race.
“It’s definitely harder,” 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr., said of the current format. “It’s really, really difficult to put together all those races in high-pressure situations. If you have a bad one, it could possibly take you out of an opportunity at a championship. In 2016, we felt like we were capable and had a great season and we lost an engine at Talladega early and we found ourselves like two points from advancing.
“The old format with points racing for the whole season is tough as well because you have to be consistent, but you know if you have one bad race somewhere, it’s not the end of the world. The playoffs are pretty crazy.”
The most recent wrinkle of stage focuses and playoff focuses was introduced so as to give race groups motivating force for the remainder of the period once they qualified for the postseason. Something else, when they won a race, groups could organize taking a shot at their arrangements and systems for the playoffs as opposed to seeking more successes.
Presently, every race position matters, each week.
“The current format makes it to where you have to earn bonus points in the regular season and then those bonus points carry with you through the playoffs. So it actually hurts the effort of the playoff atmosphere, in my mind,” said Kurt Busch, who won the first Chase championship in 2004 but was eliminated in the first round this year.
“Whereas, when we had a system of 10 weeks straight, that was basically a clean slate for everybody and then you start earning points from there and showcase your skills over a 10-week run. Now, you have those bonus points and they get lumped together with a three-race stretch.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing groups of Truex and 2015 victor Kyle Busch have been effective in accumulating stage focuses that have given some insurance in case of a poor completion in a playoff race.
“It’s sort of a protection arrangement,” said Busch, who completed nineteenth at Talladega Monday yet at the same time has enough playoff focuses to remain in the main five, 41 points in front of the cutoff line to the Round of 8. “We as a whole pay for protection to ideally never need to utilize it, however it’s there in the event that something goes wrong.
“We’ve done a great job of being able to build those points up throughout the regular season, and it’s nice to be able to have that point structure in place to kind of give you the opportunity to have your early-season success help you through the postseason. I think it’s the most fair structure that we’ve had through the playoff era.”
NASCAR made these changes to the playoffs to mix fan intrigue and make “game-seven show” appreciated by different games, and Kevin Harvick, the 2014 boss, trusts it’s been fruitful.
“You have to evolve, and in the end, we are in the entertainment business, and we have to have people watching in order to put sponsors on the car and butts in the seats,” Harvick said. “So in order to keep up with the times, you had to keep up with what people think is exciting and I think the format is exciting.
“Obviously, from a competitor’s standpoint, it’s very intense and it’s hard to get to the final four, and so for us it’s really once you get in the playoffs it’s more of a survive-and-advance mentality. However you do that, whether it looks good on paper or not, you just have to get to the next round, and that’s much different than collecting as many points as you can and try to get to the end of the year as it was previously.”
This shouldn’t imply that the present arrangement is lasting, particularly with NASCAR getting ready to update its calendar in 2021.
“I feel like three races in one little lump is too short and the consequences are too high,” Kurt Busch said. “You have an O-ring go out in an engine, and you’re knocked out. Things can be adjusted possibly in the future, where a playoff run in NASCAR might just be five weeks straight and it could be a challenge of five different style tracks.”
Emporia’s Clint Bowyer, who is in eleventh spot, 27 points behind the cut line and more likely than not must win his first race of the period Sunday to progress to the Round of 8, wouldn’t modify anything.
“Those summer months are long, grueling and they drag on,” Bowyer said. “You needed a wakeup call and shot in the arm. For me, that is the playoffs. New purpose. You are always racing for that win on any given Sunday, and that championship all year long is in the back of your mind.
“Now, it is real. I like this new format – three-races, three-races, three-races, baby! It isn’t 10 … You have to survive three races. Win one of these three and you are automatically on to the next round. … It is a good thing for me.”