Win and you’re in! Or
NASCAR’s new Chase format is being questioned by a strong field.
Photo by Benjamin Palmer/TheRacingExperts.com
Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers at Phoenix. Both are among the pool of notable drivers without a win thus far this season.
April 5, 2014
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
Win a race, you’re in the Chase. Catchy? Yes. True? Not necessarily.
With NASCAR announcing this past off-season they would be reformatting the Chase for the Sprint Cup once again, the tweaked Chase format had unprecedented changes.
With six races concluded so far, we find ourselves with six different race winners in the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Kurt Busch. Not only has a different driver taken the checkers at every race so far this season, but last year’s champion Jimmie Johnson, as well as runner-up Matt Kenseth, remain winless.
Besides those two, the field holds plenty of other drivers who could easily challenge to win a race of their own, leading us to question: What if we exceed the Chase’s limit of 16 drivers with victories?
It has happened before in NASCAR’s history. 2003, the final year with Winston as the Cup Series sponsor and no Chase format, saw 16 different drivers who captured a victory. Perfect, right? And, in 2001, NASCAR’s top division featured 19 different victors. I, myself, believe the variety of winners could happen again this year.
Who else could win a race? Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon both have high potential and can likely have a chance to end up in victory lane before this season is over. Larson proved he can be a force to reckon with early in the year at California Speedway, coming oh so close to his first career Cup victory, and a potential sweep of the weekend.
As for Austin Dillon, he has the right equipment from Richard Childress Racing, carrying prestige with the No. 3.
Besides our rookies and the top-2 finishers of last years points, other names to throw in the hat include four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, a driver who excels at the intermediate tracks, Tony Stewart, who has literally won just about anywhere (except Darlington), Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, the entire fleet of Richard Childress Racing, and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers.
That’s 19 drivers overall right there, and I haven’t even talked about some of the other veterans and underdogs who have shown potential in the past couple of years.
I believe there are over 20 drivers who could win a race this year, this could be the most competitive season NASCAR has ever seen.
In the case that NASCAR does exceed 16 different race winners by the time the 26th race concludes, the final spots of the Chase will be set to which single win drivers are higher in points. Will we have a seventh different winner this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway? Don’t count anyone out!