The field, expanded from 12 to 16 drivers, will be whittled down to a final four through eliminations after every three races of the 10-race Chase. The remaining four drivers will go into the season finale with an equal chance to win the championship: The first of the four to cross the finish line will be crowned Sprint Cup champion.
“No math. No bonus points. It’s as simple as it gets,” France said.
Right now my initial reaction is “wow, they found a way to make this whole Chase thing even worse”.
After a couple minutes reflection, I’m not sure this worse than the previous 3 Chase formats. I mean, I still think the whole notion of a playoff in racing is stupid as hell, but this may not be worse than before, it may just be bad in a different way. Certainly it seems to encourage racing as a contact sport:
Last August, Brad Keselowski chased Kyle Busch around Watkins Glen and declined to aggressively move his rival out of the way. Keselowski settled for second, racing for a good points day and declining to inflame his touchy relationship with Busch. But in doing so, he failed to win a regular-season race and missed the Chase, making him ineligible to defend his title.
Under the new format, a winless Keselowski would have no choice in that same situation but to bang fenders with Busch and go after the win.
That’s exactly what France wants to see on the track each week.