End Of The Line
November 19, 2004 | 11:05 A.M. EST
With the end of the year comes what will be (I hope) the last time I have to write about "The Chase for the Nextel Cup." If you're like me, you're now sick of the arguments whether the new point system is good or bad for the sport.
Some media people are so mad that others in the press actually like the format, they've taken to calling them out by name. I also enjoy media colleagues who are "outraged" that NASCAR PR only finds positive points about the championship to distribute, as if the sanctioning body should find chinks in its armour and make them public. I'm waiting for the NBA to publish a weekly rap sheet of DUI's and drug busts.
Than there are those who are in favor of the system that find it necessary to call those against it, well stupid.
Me, I'm somewhere in the middle. While my personal opinion is this is the best thing NASCAR has done since replacing a tobacco company as its title sponsor, I can at least respect and understand those who feel differently.
Change is hard for us all. I'll be the first to admit that at the beginning of the season, I thought there was way too much change with a new sponsor logo and color scheme (Nextel Cup now sounds familiar to me), a revised schedule and of course, "The Chase."
But I've always been the jump straight into the pool kind rather than dipping my toe in the water so once we got going, it was fine.
Whether you like it or not, Sunday's race at Homestead features a pretty compelling storyline of five drivers with a legitimate shot at winning the title. For the first time in a very long time, the season has concluded to a championship crescendo. Sports needs a title payoff. NASCAR, however it got there, now has one.
There is more coverage of this race than any since the season-opening Daytona 500. NBC's ratings are up significantly through the playoff season and the network expects a solid audience number on Sunday. Homestead-Miami Speedway is sold out as well, something Atlanta Motor Speedway was never able to do when it hosted the season finale.
I find all of those things to paint a positive picture and one that will overall help the sport grow. There have been many unfortunate and unexplainable casualties in its wake - like losing Rockingham and killing the Southern 500 - but NASCAR 2004 will go down as the most important, and successful, in history.
Of course, that's only my opinion.