Hollywood Ending

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It's a good thing the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" format is such a terrible idea. I mean, wouldn't it be much better if NASCAR still used the "old way" of crowning its champion, adding up points for all 36 races?

That would be so much better than having the scenario of four drivers with a chance to win the title coming into Sunday's race at Homestead.

With the old system in place, Tony Stewart would have wrapped up the title about three weeks ago. In fact, coming into Homestead, the Top 5 in the standings would look like this:

1) Tony Stewart, 5081
2) Greg Biffle, 4799, -282
3) Jimmie Johnson, 4728, -353
4) Mark Martin, 4501, -580
5) Rusty Wallace, 4388, -693

Yeh, that would have been a much more exciting way of crowning a champion and ending a season.

But despite the second straight year of a close points race, higher television ratings and more overall attention for the sport than it had in 2003, the last year before the "Chase" format was introduced, there are still "fans" who don't like the concept.

And I still can't understand why.

Last year proved the concept was right. This year cements the fact.

Some "traditionalists" didn't and still don't like the radical change, pointing out that the new system negates the consistency factor of previous championships. That's a ridiculous argument because you still have to be consistent to win the "Chase." Just ask Kurt Busch, Rusty Wallace or Ryan Newman.

In fact, there should still be more of an emphasis on winning, but we'll save that argument for another time.

Others think it is unfair that a driver who gets into the title run in ninth or tenth place can get hot and "steal" the championship. I guess using this rationale, the Wild Card winning Boston Red Sox' World Series triumph last season was unfair as was the Oakland Raiders' 1981 Super Bowl win as the NFL's first Wild Card champion.

This year's Major League Baseball season would have been on autopilot if the Wild Card playoff format didn't exist.

And as the "Chase" as well as other sports have shown, the best teams, no matter how they make the playoffs, usually rise to the top in the championship season.

The idea is so good and has generated the exposure, publicity and excitement NASCAR was looking for when it was created it's being copied. The PGA Tour will launch a system that will lock the top golfers into a playoff season at the end of the regular schedule of tours, with a handful of tournaments designated as a championship schedule.

When that announcement was made a couple weeks ago, I didn't read anywhere about outraged golf fans bemoaning the end of their sport.

The simple fact is that those fans who didn't like the "Chase" when it was introduced and don't like it now, despite its obvious success, never will.

And it's their loss.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2005

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