Checkered Flag or Throwing Caution to the Wind
With five Saturdays until the beginning of the 2017 NASCAR season and the famous Daytona 500, the powers that be (plus so many others) confirmed changes to the ever confusing points system for the newly minted Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series.
I cannot remember a time when my father was not sitting on our couch watching a race every weekend from February through November. When I was old enough to take part in the festivities, I found myself engrossed in the strategy and science behind the sport. Add to that the dramatic finishes and flashy wins and you get a fan hooked for life. Since the creation of the Chase in 2004 the format has undergone so many changes it could make a person’s head spin.
Along with the new branding for the chase series in partnership with Monster Energy, parting ways with the long-time sponsor, Xfinity at the end of the 2016 season, the new structure to the Chase point system will greet fans at the start of the season at Daytona. The new system divides all races into three sections, with points being allocated at the end of each section based on field position. For example, the race leader at the end of the first stage will be allotted 40 points, the second 35, the third 34, and on.
This new system will reward drivers who hit the put the peddle to the metal from the very first “Gentlemen start your engines!”. Drivers will be able to earn points towards the Chase even when disaster strikes late in the race, preventing the from winning or finishing in the top 10. As a fan, this adds to the drama of the sport. No longer will I be taking naps during the middle of the race, or multi-task on other activities. My eyes will be glued to the action on screen as each person vies for their position from the get go!
Fans and drivers alike are jumping on board with this new system. Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Denny Hamlin, explains, “There are no off weeks. Every single race matters. Every lap of every race matters. From our standpoint, you always felt a bit relaxed after you got a race win. Now with each accomplishment, getting points, through a stage win, or race win, each makes your road to Homestead a little bit easier. That’s what it’s all about.”
These changes will not only impact the drivers but also the fans. NASCAR has made a genuine effort to provide for the fans an entertaining and impactful structure and that is what I believe they have given us. Qualifying and starting positions are more important now than ever. The hours spent listening to the roar of the engines at the track are filled with more bang for the buck spent on the ticket. For a sport that was struggling to gain fans and demographics, the sanctioning body has hit the nail on the head with this move.
We are five Saturdays away from one of the world’s largest stages in the Daytona 500 and what is shaping up to be an already dramatic and exciting season. What are your thoughts on the new system? If you are not a NASCAR fan, does this new system intrigue you?