Chase Is The Place

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If you’re still not a fan of the Chase, what is wrong with you?

I’m still amazed by the “old school” fans who write me or call on the air when I’m doing radio to say they hate the Chase concept.

What is not to like?

If you’re clinging to the notion that the driver who is the most consistent over the course of the entire 36 race season should still be crowned the championship, get over it.

If you believe it’s unfair that a big point lead after 26 races gets wiped out when the Chase is re-set for the final ten races of the year, it’s time to move on.

The drivers – including Jeff Gordon who had his massive lead erased last season and Kyle Busch, who led Carl Edwards by 208 points after race 26 in Richmond last week – sure have.

This year’s Chase is shaping up to be maybe the best in the format’s five years with three heavyweight favorites in Busch, Edwards and Jimmie Johnson up top and several dark horse candidates capable of stealing their thunder and the Sprint Cup trophy.

Those who long for the "old" point system would basically have a two-driver race to follow over the last ten races of the season with Busch holding a massive plus 200 point advantage over Edwards after 26 events.

Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Burton would all be 300-400 points behind.

Under the old system there would basically be no championship talk for the next three months.
But the Chase gave us both the intrigue of who actually makes the postseason, as it does most every year when the 26th race rolls around at Richmond, as well as a championship stretch drive over the final 10 events.

Why would anyone want to follow a sport where the title is decided with three or four events left in the season?

While it's possible a driver could wrap up the championship before the Homestead finale, it isn't likely, making the final race of the season meaningful.

Another criticism I hear from some fans is that once the Chase begins, the television networks only concentrate on those drivers each week and ignore others not battling for the title.

While I agree to a point that the coverage becomes a bit slanted during the Chase portion of the season, I think television has done a pretty good job staying focused on the individual race story of the leaders at the front of the field in addition to providing the championship picture.

If your favorite driver isn't in the Chase or running upfront for the lead, there isn't any reason for television to be covering them anyway.

David Reutimann proved that point last Sunday in Richmond. The UPS Toyota driver didn't just lead a lap, he stayed in front for a long stretch and deserved the attention and coverage he got on ESPN's telecast.

If he were running in the middle-of-the-pack, he wouldn't have been mentioned most of the day and rightfully so.

The Chase is manufactured and a made-for-TV creation, two knocks I hear all the time from those who still haven't embraced the format.

And that is completely true.

So is the wild card in baseball and football, the 3-point shot in the NBA, the BCS in college football and the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour, which is basically professional golf's version of the Chase.

Leagues and sanctioning bodies are supposed to find ways to generate interest in their sport.

NASCAR has done that with the Chase.

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