Category Archives: NASCAR

NASCAR: Drivers in the Daytona 500 were faced with a strategic dilemma

With almost everyone in the Daytona 500 tight on fuel, drivers could push for victory ahead of those taking it easy (and risk running dry), or they could conserve fuel themselves and hope the rivals in front ran out instead. Chase Elliot, Martin Truex Jr, and Kyle Larson pushed for the win and all three ran out of fuel. Kurt Busch came through on the last lap to take the chequered flag and Ryan Blaney coughed for fuel over the finish line in second place.

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A suggested change to NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup format

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Since 2004 NASCAR has used a points system that is rather unique in the world of motorsport. The championship winner is determined by the ‘Chase for the Cup’ which is currently a series of elimination races that work like the finals of a football competition. The format ensures four drivers go into the last race of the season with an equal chance of winning the championship so there is guaranteed to be drama up until the very end.

However, there are critics of this format (which was updated in 2014) who feel there is no reward for the driver who scores the most points during the regular season. NASCAR bosses have listened to this feedback and there is now an appetite to change the system.

NASCAR racing chief Steve O’Donnell said “One of the things we’re looking at is the first 26 races … I think that’s certainly fair for us to look at and we are. I’d say very serious consideration.”

CURRENT FORMAT

The NASCAR season is 36 races long and is split into two parts. The first 26 races make up the regular season whilst the last 10 races are part of the Chase.

Before the Chase starts the top 16 drivers (based on wins) have their points tally boosted to roughly the same level. This gives them all a relatively equal chance to win the championship at the expense of everyone else. They enter the first of three elimination rounds which each consist of three races. At the end of each elimination round the four worst performing drivers are dropped and the survivors have their points tally reset. The end result is that four drivers go into the final race of the season on perfectly equal points and whoever among them finishes higher in that race is champion. Simple as that.

CRITICISM

One key criticism of the current Chase format is that it doesn’t offer any reward to the driver who scores the most points during the regular season. In the 12 seasons that a Chase format has been used in NASCAR, there have been 7 occasions when the champion would’ve been different under a more conventional points system. There is little incentive to perform consistently or fight for championship position in the first 26 races. Kevin Harvick had a decent points lead after the 2016 regular season but was eliminated during the Chase and will not go into this weekend’s final race with a championship chance.

To highlight how little the regular season races impact the title fight, Kyle Busch won last year’s championship despite missing the first 11 races. Although he was sitting 27th on points before the 2015 Chase started, Busch was able to scrape into the elimination rounds, make the final race, and claim the title.

Drivers have suggested awarding a trophy or some other arbitrary prize to the regular season winner but perhaps the best idea is a simple one.

REWARDING THE REGULAR SEASON WINNER

An easy tweak to the Chase format would be giving the driver with the most regular season points automatic entry into the final race as a championship contender. That driver couldn’t be dropped from the Chase during the elimination rounds and would remain eligible for the title until the very end. The other 15 drivers in the Chase would fight for remaining three contender positions using the same elimination format.

This idea offers a substantial reward to the driver who scores the most regular season points, it doesn’t take away from the entertainment value of the chase format, and it requires little rework to the current rules. In addition to making first place on the points table worth fighting for earlier in the season it also creates an interesting story-line for the sport with the regular season ‘champ’ having to fight off three title challengers in the final race.

If you score the most points in the first 26 races you surely deserve some sort of advantage heading into the Chase.

The 2016 NASCAR finale is this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Red Bull teammates come together … again

Jamie Whincup hit Shane van Gisbergen in the latest Supercars round which continues a fine motorsport tradition of Red Bull teammates crashing into each other.

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NASCAR: Jeff Gordon has created some interesting trivia

NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon came out of retirement to substitute for Dale Earnhardt Jr (out injured) producing 3 interesting bits of trivia:

1. There has only been once race since 1979 without an Earnhardt or a Gordon competing.
2. Gordon is the only driver to have competed in all 23 NASCAR races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
3. If Earnhardt Jr’s absence continues, Jeff Gordon could start his 800th race, a NASCAR record and a stunning achievement in any form of motorsport.

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Another last corner fight for victory in NASCAR

NASCAR has produced some mighty close finishes this year – the most recent coming last weekend during the road race at Sonoma. Tony Stewart & Denny Hamlin swapped paintwork on the final lap and their fight for victory wasn’t over until Stewart forced his way past through the last corner.

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This is an amazing save!

Dale Earnhardt Junior survived a scary moment during NASCAR’s Geico 500 on Sunday when his steering wheel unexpectedly fell off into his hands. Impressively, Junior kept a clear head and grabbed onto the exposed steering column to keep the car off the barrier.

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NASCAR has produced yet another stunning race finish in 2016

In the most recent Xfinity Series round a three-way battle for victory was played out on the final lap between Kyle Busch who had a puncture, Daniel Suárez who was running out fuel, and Austin Dillon who would have to barge past both if he wanted to win. Amazing drama.

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A NASCAR race was interrupted by a sandstorm

V8 Supercar drivers had to deal with a ghastly thunderstorm in Adelaide last weekend, but the weather was also a talking point in Las Vegas where the Kobalt 400 NASCAR race was bizzarely interrupted by a sandstorm.

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NASCAR : The last lap of the Daytona 500 was utterly thrilling

What a finish! Matt Kenseth did everything he could to defend his lead but lost out to Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. who staged a wheel-banging sprint to the finish line. It was the closest Daytona 500 finish in history, the first for a non-American car, and it fulfilled a childhood dream for Hamlin who wrote a school assignment titled “My wish is to win the Daytona 500” when he was just 7 years old. Brilliant.

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NASCAR: Chase Elliott’s story is a great one

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20 year old Chase Elliott is starting his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and has upstaged a field of established stars by taking pole position for the Daytona 500, the series’ biggest event. In doing so, Elliott becomes the youngest ever pole sitter for the 500 and emulates his father who first topped Daytona qualifying in 1985. Not only that, but Elliott has performed against the pressure of replacing NASCAR legend, Jeff Gordon, at Hendrick Motorsports this year. He seemingly isn’t uncomfortable stepping into those very big shoes.

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