4-corners

Given the lack of suspense and the falling TV ratings, many believe NASCAR needs to fix the way it crowns its champion

November 20, 2009

Shake up the system
Barry Stavro

Los Angeles Times

The problem with the Chase is it rewards consistency, not wins. A driver can win the title without winning any of the 10 Chase races.

How to fix this? Easy. Keep the first five races on its current Byzantine points system, with a certain number of points for winning the race, finishing second, third, etc., plus extra points for the number of laps in the lead, and so on.

Then shake things up in the second half:

Each of the final five Chase races gets a bigger share of points to award, and they are loaded to the driver who wins each race, with dramatically reduced points awarded for finishing second, third, laps led, etc.

Then make the final race the most valuable by having it worth three-to-four times more points than any other Chase race. Now that's a true Chase to the finish line.

bstavro@tribune.com

Devil is in the design
Shawn Courchesne

Hartford Courant

There's nothing for NASCAR to fix because there's nothing wrong with the Chase for the Championship. Falling TV ratings are more a result of the Car of Tomorrow design than the lack of suspense in the Chase. That design has made what were dull Sprint Cup Series events even less interesting.

The Car of Tomorrow has made side-by-side racing virtually obsolete where Sprint Cup cars compete. The most dramatic finishes this year either involved cars flying in the air at restrictor plate races or drivers running out of gas. True racing to a checkered flag is nowhere to be found. TV ratings started falling well before the Chase began.

The Chase doesn't need to be changed just because Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team have mastered the format. scourchesne@tribune.com

Stay the course
Tania Ganguli

Orlando Sentinel

Jimmie Johnson said Thursday afternoon that he really wants to win a championship in the old, pre-Chase format. That was something he couldn't do early in his career but thinks he could now. In fact, Johnson is confident that no matter what championship format NASCAR adopts, if they make changes to curb his dominance, his team could find a way to adapt and to win.

The decline in ratings isn't because of the Chase. It's because the casual fan isn't connecting with the series. Johnson's merchandise is among the top sellers of any driver, but for some reason the series isn't captivating people as it has in the past.

These kinds of things go in cycles. NASCAR should let the championship format remain as it is, watch what happens and avoid a knee-jerk change.

tganguli@tribune.com

Gentlemen, start over
Mike Kellams

Chicago Tribune

The old way or the highway. That's the answer to fixing NASCAR's fan interest - or lack thereof.

Much like golf (which was at least inspired by NASCAR), the year-end "tournament" just doesn't carry the same emotional connection as the Daytona 500 and the Masters. What you end up with is a regular season fans largely don't have to pay attention to, not when the points are reset for the very select few for the Chase. By the time the races truly count, NASCAR is facing baseball's playoffs, the NFL, college football and the kids back in school.

To regain fan interest, the races need to count the same on those weekends in the spring and summer, before the change of seasons distracts the fans who lost interest when they saw their race at their track was not much more than a glorified exhibition.

mkellams@tribune.com

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