There has been a lot of talk with the chase for the sprint cup about, well, the problems with the chase. There are too many drivers. Popular drivers can be left out. There are too many "cookie cutter" tracks. It got me thinking, what might be the best system for a "NASCAR Playoff"?
Implementing a new playoff system could solve the aforementioned problems.
Problem 1: There aren't enough drivers.
Solution: Bracketize it. College Basketball has made the brackets so popular among sports fans, I bet not one of you hasn't spent time figuring out who will go to the final four. Seeded one through eight, have a "selection show" in which 16 drivers are chosen by a selection committee.
Problem 2: Popular drivers might be left out.
Solution: Fan vote. Like in the Sprint All-Star race, there will be a spot or two for a "fan vote". In this scenario, fans have a closer feel to the process, while giving NASCAR an added publicity boost. Imagine, Brian France saying "look at my sport: fans are more interactive in NASCAR than in any other sport."
Problem 3: Too many cookie cutter tracks.
Solution: Go back to the roots. NASCAR has always had a problem; trying to stay in touch with its roots, while also continuously modernizing its image. The easiest thing to do: mix them. Fans like the idea of the throwback. But they don't want to be thrown too far back. By choosing the best venues in terms of marketability and attendance, NASCAR can keep up in the ratings, but give the fans a good race.
Does NASCAR need to change the chase format?
Putting these things together, we would have something like this: The final race, or the first of the "Drive for 5", will be an attempt to boost points and fan vote. This race will be run at a track where something always happens, but the track alone should not determine whether or not your in. The Track: Talledega.
After seedings and bracketology, drivers head to race No. 2, a race where upsets can be made, but a driver must work hard in order to defeat his opponent. In the most marketable network, Charlotte/Lowe's Motorspeedway lands the second race.
In the third race, the driving becomes gutsy. Drivers must give all they have just to survive, let alone win. The best overall racer must win. Not just the most efficient racer on a 1.5 mile track. Track No. 3: Watkins Glen.
The 4th race will cause tempers to flare. Drivers eliminated will most likely try to get their revenge. Drivers still alive must be wary of enemies, while still trying to beat their opponents. Bristol gives that kind of racing that leaves no driver safe.
The final Race. It all comes down to this. NASCAR's Super Bowl. The only place I can see this race living up to the expectations is where the season starts. Daytona.
*editors note: in the selection show, drivers in the top 12 receive automatic bids, as well as those drivers who win. Following those drivers are the drivers that are chosen by drivers points, excluding those drivers chosen by the fan vote. The four No. 8 seeds will be the drivers chosen by fan vote. Odds are, these drivers are pretty good, and can pose upset threats to No. 1 seed drivers. Makes race No. 2 more interesting.