NASCAR: Can the Chase for the Cup Be Perfected?

DJ Bumgarner@DJBumgarnerContributor IIINovember 23, 2010

Chase_DriversRusty Jarrett/Getty Images

First off, I know this has been discussed many times and I know it's not going anywhere. I have nothing against Jimmie Johnson or the 48 team. What they have been able to accomplish is remarkable. I do however have issues with the points system.

For years NASCAR did not have a playoff system, and nobody complained. At the end of the 36-race season, the driver who accumulated the most points over the year was crowned Champion. 

In 2004 the Chase was introduced and many fans wondered if it would work, I was willing to give it a chance before making my final judgement on it. Since it's inception it's been tweaked with over the years, and many fans have grown tired of the constant changes to the points system. The most recent being expanding the Chase to include the top 12 drivers after the first 26 races, and rewarding 10 bonus points per win. 

The changes being made however, don't seem to make much of a difference. For the past five years NASCAR fans have grown tired of Johnson winning the title. Nobody else seems to be able to beat them, and while many hate Jimmie and crew for it, I can't fault them, they are playing under the same rules as everybody else.

It seems like Brian France is completely out of touch with NASCAR fans. When asked about the fans not liking the changes and wanting the Chase eliminated, here was his response: "You met somebody that's telling you that?" 

What rock is Mr. France hiding under, does he see the rapid decline in ratings, the constant rants on the internet?

After the first 26 races, before any bonus points were added for wins, Kevin Harvick was the points leader with 3,723 points, at the time Johnson had 3,417. So, Kevin Harvick was your regular season champion without a doubt, but that's not the point.

Let's for now not add any bonus points for wins, and not reset to 5000. Let's just add the points scored in the final 10 races. If you do this the final standings are like this.

1. Kevin Harvick - 5,274 

Johnson would score 4,978, however adding the bonus points for wins changes things obviously. My complaint is that when a guy works his tail off for 26 weeks he should at least get something for his efforts, not get bumped down in the standings.

If Brian France really wants a balanced system I believe the points leader after 26 races should get the first seed in the chase, along with a 50 point bonus plus the 10 points per win. This will make the rest of the drivers run harder the first 26 races in order to get that extra bonus, as it could be very useful for a track during the chase where anything could happen, Talladega for example.

How does a driver who earned the most points over the year not win the Championship?

In a perfect world, I'd say do away with the Chase all together. It worked for years and nobody complained about it. When you had a close battle for the title it was special, now it's happening ever year, yet is predictable at the same time.

Again, I must say I can accept Jimmie for what he has done, but I've heard some people say he's the greatest of all time, Darrell Waltrip even said it the other night on Twitter. I do not feel it's fair to compare Johnson's five, to Petty and Earnhardt's seven, or even Gordon's four, all of these came in different era's and now obviously in completely different points formats. 

Previous Champions earned it over 36 weeks, while Jimmie has earned his over 10.

It's obvious to me that some minor tweaks are needed, but the Chase will never be perfected.