So now what? NASCAR has decided all the shenanigans at Richmond last weekend completely hosed Jeff Gordon out of the Chase. So Gordon is in, but not at the expense of Logono or any other driver. Instead, we now have the Chase + 1, and JJ is none too pleased:
“Of course I am very happy that Jeff’s in the Chase,” Johnson said. “In my opinion, though, I think there should be 12 cars. One in, one out should be the deal. It’s not. There’s a lot of things to consider. It’s been an interesting week to say the least.
“As a competitor, one of the 12 in the Chase that was in the Chase, you just changed the odds and the ratio tremendously adding a 13th car. I feel Jeff should be in, so I guess the 22 [Logano] would be on the outside looking if they removed one. That’s a good team. They won the championship last year with the 22 car, and Joey is doing a great job and earning a lot of points. It changes the dynamic of the Chase quite a bit with 13 cars.”
I actually agree with JJ, but I am of course happy Gordon has made the Chase. The problem with NASCAR continues to be the subjective way rules are or are not applied depending on which direction the wind is blowing. If the NASCAR brass had any balls, this off season they would throw out the current rule book, and re-write things in such a way as to avoid what just occurred last weekend at Richmond.
A good starting point would be to keep the current Top 10 + 2 Wild Card format, but the actual point system should be revised. Give bonus points for wins once the Chase starts; that makes sense. For the Top 10, give them bonus points as well, similar to a F1 style race finish (i.e. 25 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, etc.). This would prevent Bowyer style “itch scratching” because there would be too many bonus points at risk. This format change would also make the regular season relevant (similar to the pre Chase days) while still awarding for wins and consistency.
A lot of people, myself including, were really turned off by the WWE style antics that occurred during the Richmond race, and the circus style rules changing that occurred afterwards. NASCAR can say what they want, but there was enough evidence to doc Bowyer enough points to knock him out of the Chase, which would have put Gordon in without resorting to an unlucky #13 format.
If anything, maybe bad press is good press, which will result in a positive ratings increase due to the interest around booing Bowyer, but the other risk NASCAR runs is that they will alienate their fans due to NASCAR’s seat of their pants rules enforcement. I for one am a little bit jaded.