- Aug 15, 2017
Every since the new playoff format debuted in 2013, I've been intrigued by the fact that all of the sudden all of the title races have been won by final four drivers, and nearly ALL of the final four drivers have been well inside of the top ten late in the race. That trend certainly runs counter to the history of NASCAR, at least since the Latford points system was adapted in 1975. From 1975 to 2012 (38 years) a driver with a mathematical chance to claim the title has only won the final race of the year nine times (1981, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2008, 2011) and ONLY in 2011 did the race winner actually win the title (Tony Stewart). I'm about as far from a conspiracy guy as you can get, but does ANYBODY want to figure the odds of the final four guys finishing 1-4 on Sunday? It just seems REALLY odd to me that since 2012, drivers that are championship contenders suddenly run VASTLY better in the final race than in the four decades past. In fact, before 2013, it was quite common for drivers that were not even in the top five in points to win the season finale, sometimes not even in the top ten. Greg Biffle did it TWICE from outside the top ten. Jerry Nadeau got his ONLY Cup win in the finale of 2000. Morgan Sheppard, Bill Elliott's first win, the list goes on and on. I know that the need to outperform the other three in this format makes it crucial to run better in the final race, but does THAT ALONE explain what we are seeing? If it were this easy to just turn it on, why not EVERY week?