Time to look at playoff format?

OldTimer

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1. Top 40 in points eligible for Championship
2. Leading a lap gets you 5 points
3. Wins gets 10 extra points each
4. Most points after last race wins Championship.
I can agree with this, I like getting points for leading. I would only add 1 point for leading, but 5 points for leading the most laps in the race.
 

Revman

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What driver has been undeserving under our current system?
 

Jorge De Guzman

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I'm just here for the all out anarchy that this points system will unleash upon these drivers in about oh 3 weeks or so. . Rooting for that very very much
 

FLRacingFan

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It’s been stupid from day 1, especially stupid. I think most other sports’ playoff formats are dumb too. But NASCAR takes the cake when the whole field competes against each other each week anyways. Each race should be its own event and matter equally.

Despite all that, it is what it is and I don’t see it changing.
 

Blaze

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Talking Champion....
I know you will disagree, and that’s fine… but Kyle’s 2015 one. I’m sorry but I don’t believe he should’ve been eligible with how many races he missed. I get that he was hurt, and everything like that, and it was in the rules set. But I personally don’t think it was right. Most of the people who won, who didn’t have the best season, at least was one of the top drivers in points.

2014, Harvick was the 5th best all season, surely a worthy season imo

2015 I just covered…

2016, Jimmie was 7th best points wise, so kinda pushing it tbh.

2017, MTJ was just the best all year, most deserving up to this poijt

2018, Joey was 4th, so hey if you want the 4 best going at it for the championship, it worked. Good stuff.

2019, hey look Kyle was actually the best this season!

2020, Chase was good all year, 3rd best in fact. Really deserving.

2021, we all know how amazing Larson did.

So besides Jimmie’s 7th(champion and regular points) the lowest anyone(not counting Kyle 2015) anyone was would be 5th. That’s not saying Kyle is a bad driver, and if he raced the full season he probably would’ve been one of the best that season in points. But I just have a hard time thinking it was worthy.
 

Revman

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I know you will disagree, and that’s fine… but Kyle’s 2015 one. I’m sorry but I don’t believe he should’ve been eligible with how many races he missed. I get that he was hurt, and everything like that, and it was in the rules set. But I personally don’t think it was right. Most of the people who won, who didn’t have the best season, at least was one of the top drivers in points.

2014, Harvick was the 5th best all season, surely a worthy season imo

2015 I just covered…

2016, Jimmie was 7th best points wise, so kinda pushing it tbh.

2017, MTJ was just the best all year, most deserving up to this poijt

2018, Joey was 4th, so hey if you want the 4 best going at it for the championship, it worked. Good stuff.

2019, hey look Kyle was actually the best this season!

2020, Chase was good all year, 3rd best in fact. Really deserving.

2021, we all know how amazing Larson did.

So besides Jimmie’s 7th(champion and regular points) the lowest anyone(not counting Kyle 2015) anyone was would be 5th. That’s not saying Kyle is a bad driver, and if he raced the full season he probably would’ve been one of the best that season in points. But I just have a hard time thinking it was worthy.
No, I hear you on 2015....but your post is spot on....with a couple of arguable exceptions--which you would have in any sport in any year....the format has been relatively successful.
 

Blaze

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No, I hear you on 2015....but your post is spot on....with a couple of arguable exceptions--which you would have in any sport in any year....the format has been relatively successful.
I still personally would wanna go back to a full season Championship, and yeah that means I don’t have the Chase Championship from 2020, but I would trade it off to have the old system back. Because thankfully right now, it’s been rather good, I mean it’s not like we had some of a Cody Ware type driver win yet. But it just bothers me that you could win 35 races in a row, lose race 36, and not be champ. Yeah it wont ever happen, but it could and that’s my problem with the system. I’d gladly take back the last 10 race system we had before this playoff one, any of the 2004-2013 ones. At least then it doesn’t come down to one race. As hell you could lose the Championship because someone decides to screw you over in that race.

Like picture Ross makes it to the final 4, he’s made plenty of enemies this season, he’s a few laps away from winning… then say MTJ for example just wrecks him. Kind of a ****** way to lose.
 

zevious

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I am a MTR fan. That said, while they are high in the points, they are making too many errors as a team and don't deserve to be in the playoffs at this point. Even if they were to point themselves in, does it matter? If you cannot put a full race together to even get one win across the season, how well will you fair against those that can? I don't think this points system is without issues but I don't feel that way just because someone that is considered to belong in the playoffs is out either.
 

AuzGrams

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I know you will disagree, and that’s fine… but Kyle’s 2015 one. I’m sorry but I don’t believe he should’ve been eligible with how many races he missed. I get that he was hurt, and everything like that, and it was in the rules set. But I personally don’t think it was right. Most of the people who won, who didn’t have the best season, at least was one of the top drivers in points.

2014, Harvick was the 5th best all season, surely a worthy season imo

Agree with most of your paragraph but Harvick was the best car all year along with Gordon in 2014. Dale Jr, Joey Logano, Keselowski were 3-5.

2014 could have been a real crapshoot as far as the champion goes and it worked out that year.
 

Revman

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I am a MTR fan. That said, while they are high in the points, they are making too many errors as a team and don't deserve to be in the playoffs at this point. Even if they were to point themselves in, does it matter? If you cannot put a full race together to even get one win across the season, how well will you fair against those that can? I don't think this points system is without issues but I don't feel that way just because someone that is considered to belong in the playoffs is out either.
You said what I was trying to say much better. No way in hell are they the fourth best car. They may not even be in the Top 10. I don't think Martin wants to drive this car. I don't think he wants Small as his Crew Chief. I don't think he wants to drive next year, but I am willing to bet he got one of the sweetest 1 year deals ever. The 19 group is a hot mess IMO.
 

wi_racefan

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I know you will disagree, and that’s fine… but Kyle’s 2015 one. I’m sorry but I don’t believe he should’ve been eligible with how many races he missed. I get that he was hurt, and everything like that, and it was in the rules set. But I personally don’t think it was right. Most of the people who won, who didn’t have the best season, at least was one of the top drivers in points.

2014, Harvick was the 5th best all season, surely a worthy season imo

2015 I just covered…

2016, Jimmie was 7th best points wise, so kinda pushing it tbh.

2017, MTJ was just the best all year, most deserving up to this poijt

2018, Joey was 4th, so hey if you want the 4 best going at it for the championship, it worked. Good stuff.

2019, hey look Kyle was actually the best this season!

2020, Chase was good all year, 3rd best in fact. Really deserving.

2021, we all know how amazing Larson did.

So besides Jimmie’s 7th(champion and regular points) the lowest anyone(not counting Kyle 2015) anyone was would be 5th. That’s not saying Kyle is a bad driver, and if he raced the full season he probably would’ve been one of the best that season in points. But I just have a hard time thinking it was worthy.
Don't forget without a late race caution MTJ, not Larson would have won the championship. So yeah they got lucky on that one

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acmerocket

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so here i what i hope happens, the guy in 30th wins a rain shorten race, goes to the last race in the playoff,and wins another rain shorten race and the championship, then maybe they would get rid of all this dumb crap, are you ready bj mcleod???:booya:
 

RHRFan#1

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I'm a Harvick fan but today is just proof this system is flawed. Now MTJ who is 4th in points is out but Denny is 19th in points coming into today is locked in. I'm sorry that just doesn't sit well with me.

Not sure what the solution is? Top 5 in driver points guaranteed playoff spot and then wins and points from there?

Not sure what the solution is?

The solution is simple, use the points system that worked just fine and rewarded the best driver and team on average each year up until 2003. That system also forced fans to pay attention each week to see how their driver did. Gave teams a reason to try and finish each race. People didn't race like a complete jackass each weekend.

Now? Austin Cindric after winning the Daytona 500, and Chase Briscoe after winning at Phoenix haven't done jack ****, yet will have a chance to win a championship.
 

Blaze

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Agree with most of your paragraph but Harvick was the best car all year along with Gordon in 2014. Dale Jr, Joey Logano, Keselowski were 3-5.

2014 could have been a real crapshoot as far as the champion goes and it worked out that year.
I was going off points. Not sure how accurate it was, but on raving reference for each race, they have at the bottom what non playoff points looked like, and he was 5th in the points. Basically looking at it from a if they had a full season point system. But yeah, Harvick had a really good season for sure.
 

2 Sweet

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No. Nor will there be.

20 years worth of whining ... all to no effect.

Yeah, this same discussion comes up multiple times a year. Rinse, repeat. It has all been said time and time again.

Personally, I don't even care anymore (has 2 Sweet, at age 35, lost a step?). I don't care about points, I don't care who is ranked where, I barely even care about the championship itself. But I know the playoffs aren't going away so it's pointless to keep going down this road. I just try and enjoy it for what it is, and the last thing I want is yet another format change unless they ditch it altogether, and that's not happening.
 

Blaze

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For reference


3TTizIA.jpg
 

Charlie Spencer

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I don't know why some people think having more than 16 winners will be a thermonuclear event. I'm pretty sure NASCAR has tiebreakers already in place and the teams know what they are. It's probably whoever has the most season and / or playoff points, then maybe stage wins as a second tie breaker. Whatever they are, you can bet they're already defined. Even I can figure that out in advance, and I'm not getting paid to manage the system.
 

Rick

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No but I think the flaws in the system have really been exposed this season

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We have 15 winners. It is unprecedented. But go ahead and keep pissing in the wind all you want.
 

wi_racefan

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We have 15 winners. It is unprecedented. But go ahead and keep pissing in the wind all you want.
The problem is the guy 4th in points is out right now. If MTJ wins his way back in, then the guy 2nd in points is out. There lies the problem. All nascar can hope for is they both win in the last 3 races.

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jaqua19

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A champion is a champion under every format by sheer fact of beating the best under the set of rules.

And let's not pretend that every champion post 14 ISNT a championship caliber driver who has had a championship caliber performance at some point in their career.

That being said, I do agree that a single race format blows. Here's my take on an ideal format.

10 race chase to end the season. Top 10 drivers in points make the chase. Win and your in does NOT guarantee you a chase spot. You need to score top 10 points to make it in. Period.

Race points are scored exactly as they are today with one exception: No stage yellows. We score points after each stage, but we don't throw the yellow and restart the field.

Playoff points become seeding points. One seeding point for a stage win, 5 seeding points for a race win....

And for the love of god... TWO seeding points for leading the most laps.

(Can leading the most laps PLEASE mean something again!?).

But there's more! Regular season champion 20 seeding points, runner up gets 10, and third gets 5.

Drivers 1-10 are seeded based on their regular season points position, 10 points apart. Their seeding points then get added to them.

For the final 10 races, there's no more additional points. Just a 10 race regular season.

I think this is best of all worlds.

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Rick

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The problem is the guy 4th in points is out right now. If MTJ wins his way back in, then the guy 2nd in points is out. There lies the problem. All nascar can hope for is they both win in the last 3 races.

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Yes. However this format is about winning. Bring winning cars and run hard. Everybody and their grandma would bet on Hamlin over Truex right now. We aren't points racing. For the record I love points racing.

Your point about nascar hoping a dominant team wins isn't wrong and I've said the same thing again and again.
 

LewTheShoe

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Not sure what the solution is?

The solution is simple, use the points system that worked just fine and rewarded the best driver and team on average each year up until 2003.
You're accepting that the Latford points system uniquely identifies the best driver and team, and every other criteria is "wrong." @wi_racefan in the original post implies a similar opinion... that the points tabulation correctly captures what matters. I have never accepted that, dating back to 1975 when the Latford scale replaced other, equally flawed systems.

The Latford scale was not designed nor intended to identify the best or most deserving team. Its intended mission was (a) to encourage more teams to race the whole schedule, and (b) to keep the championship standings close until the very end of the year. It's a very flat scale, pretty close to linear from the race winner to the very last place. As such, it under-rewards winning and over-rewards mid-field runners. It encourages a "coast & collect" mentality of points racing, and I always hated that dating back to the 1970's.

And the unsurprising result was that the "wrong" guys won the championship in multiple years. Look, the whole point of racing is to win, to run up front. And it's damn hard to do. Winning cup races is HARD to do, and it's supposed to be hard. When you accomplish that objective... and it's rewarded with only a tiny points margin over what the losers get... that ain't right. It just isn't.

It's also necessary to be realistic that Nascar is both a sport *and* a business that depends upon outside sales to be viable. If fans aren't buying tickets or tuning in to race broadcasts, the entire merry-go-round grinds to a halt. Empirically, sports fans' interest wanes after the championship outcome is decided or nearly decided. We as fans on keyboards can glibly ignore that if we choose to (I call it "spending OPM, other people's money") but actual real-world decision makers cannot ignore it. Nascar has swung that pendulum too far, however, and I believe they need a more natural approach toward "game 7 moments."

The Chase format from 2004-13 addressed some of the flaws from the Latford era, but made others worse, IMO. The points scale became even flatter than Latford, and the winners bonus from the regular season at the Chase reset was a paltry three points per victory. Both of these provisions should be offensive to anyone who thinks winning is important. OTOH, the ten-race mini-season was awesome. Every year, two or three teams would emerge from the crowd and duke it out for the big prize. I agree with @jaqua19, this was my favorite format, but needed a bigger winner bonus... 10 points not 3.

The 2014-16 elimination style playoff almost totally divorced the regular season from the championship, and over-emphasized the importance of avoiding racing misfortune during the chase. While advancing through the playoff rounds was a stern test of driver and team excellence, this format ignored the regular season too much for me to embrace.

The 2017 mods to the elimination style playoff restored the importance of the regular season, so that helped a lot. Playoff Points, baby! And a by-product of the stages is that the overall points system gets more progressive... bigger points haul for the front runners... a much-needed improvement although there are easier, simpler ways to accomplish that!

There are two big negatives inherent in the elimination style playoff. First, the focus tends to go toward the bottom of the playoff field... who is in danger of elimination... rather than focussing on the front and who is pulling ahead in championship form. And second, I still hate a one-race decider, even if the format ensures that all four teams in contention are championship worthy.
 

REBS31

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I think the only way we’ll ever see any major change to the playoff type system is if the Ryan Newman 2014 scenario actually ever plays out(the year he came one position short of winning the title with 0 wins, 4 top 5s, and 41 laps led through the first 35 races).

Even if there is a complete fluke champion like that I’m skeptical that drastic changes will be implemented, it’ll just look bad for a while. The pre-2004 system and anything closely resembling it are likely dead for the remainder of the sport.
 

Formerjackman

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Well, in typical NASCAR fashion, they completely overreacted when they replaced the Latford System, and then doubled down on every mistake since then. There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with Latford that couldn't be fixed by adjusting the points allocation. Everything done since 2003 has just turned the sport into some kind of bad reality show on wheels. Game 7 moments are great when they are organic, not so great when they are manufactured. I find it ironic that after almost twenty years of dicking around with the format, the championship moment first and foremost in nearly everyone’s minds is 1992, there has even been a book written about. Hell, even I struggle to remember the champions and the circumstances involved for most of the playoff era. You can’t just manufacture game 7 moments, no matter how desperately bad you want to.
 

FLRacingFan

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You're accepting that the Latford points system uniquely identifies the best driver and team, and every other criteria is "wrong." @wi_racefan in the original post implies a similar opinion... that the points tabulation correctly captures what matters. I have never accepted that, dating back to 1975 when the Latford scale replaced other, equally flawed systems.

The Latford scale was not designed nor intended to identify the best or most deserving team. Its intended mission was (a) to encourage more teams to race the whole schedule, and (b) to keep the championship standings close until the very end of the year. It's a very flat scale, pretty close to linear from the race winner to the very last place. As such, it under-rewards winning and over-rewards mid-field runners. It encourages a "coast & collect" mentality of points racing, and I always hated that dating back to the 1970's.

And the unsurprising result was that the "wrong" guys won the championship in multiple years. Look, the whole point of racing is to win, to run up front. And it's damn hard to do. Winning cup races is HARD to do, and it's supposed to be hard. When you accomplish that objective... and it's rewarded with only a tiny points margin over what the losers get... that ain't right. It just isn't.

It's also necessary to be realistic that Nascar is both a sport *and* a business that depends upon outside sales to be viable. If fans aren't buying tickets or tuning in to race broadcasts, the entire merry-go-round grinds to a halt. Empirically, sports fans' interest wanes after the championship outcome is decided or nearly decided. We as fans on keyboards can glibly ignore that if we choose to (I call it "spending OPM, other people's money") but actual real-world decision makers cannot ignore it. Nascar has swung that pendulum too far, however, and I believe they need a more natural approach toward "game 7 moments."

The Chase format from 2004-13 addressed some of the flaws from the Latford era, but made others worse, IMO. The points scale became even flatter than Latford, and the winners bonus from the regular season at the Chase reset was a paltry three points per victory. Both of these provisions should be offensive to anyone who thinks winning is important. OTOH, the ten-race mini-season was awesome. Every year, two or three teams would emerge from the crowd and duke it out for the big prize. I agree with @jaqua19, this was my favorite format, but needed a bigger winner bonus... 10 points not 3.

The 2014-16 elimination style playoff almost totally divorced the regular season from the championship, and over-emphasized the importance of avoiding racing misfortune during the chase. While advancing through the playoff rounds was a stern test of driver and team excellence, this format ignored the regular season too much for me to embrace.

The 2017 mods to the elimination style playoff restored the importance of the regular season, so that helped a lot. Playoff Points, baby! And a by-product of the stages is that the overall points system gets more progressive... bigger points haul for the front runners... a much-needed improvement although there are easier, simpler ways to accomplish that!

There are two big negatives inherent in the elimination style playoff. First, the focus tends to go toward the bottom of the playoff field... who is in danger of elimination... rather than focussing on the front and who is pulling ahead in championship form. And second, I still hate a one-race decider, even if the format ensures that all four teams in contention are championship worthy.
Didn’t they actually increase the curve of the actual points scale when they added 5 points to the winner’s total each in 2004 and 2007? It was possible to get 195 points if you won and led the most laps. That’s something that should’ve been done earlier.

I actually don’t think it’s talked about how bad the 2011-points scale is, which is really the most linear there’s ever been. Since 2017 the stage points have helped disguise that but the points distributed for the race finish could sure use a change. The finishing scale is still much flatter than what the Latford curve was.

I agree that the narrative shifting from two or three guys separating each other from the rest of the field to focusing on who’s out has been a real net negative. And by the time the championship four roll around they’ve probably all gotten their by different ways than by actual head-to-head battles. When I think of the Chase I think of week-to-week battles between Jimmie and Keselowski, Stewart and Edwards, Jimmie and Hamlin. There is no real flow or continuity from round-to-round in the playoffs.

From what I remember, NASCARnomics did an analysis way back when that showed, relative to pre-Chase TV trends, regular season ratings trended worse than they had previously while Chase ratings held up relatively better. Given the proportionate values of those two segments of the season, and with the playoffs already having a lower ceiling from competing against football, I truly wonder if the playoffs can be justified from a TV perspective. Granted, the system has changed a couple of times since then.
 

RHRFan#1

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You're accepting that the Latford points system uniquely identifies the best driver and team, and every other criteria is "wrong." @wi_racefan in the original post implies a similar opinion... that the points tabulation correctly captures what matters. I have never accepted that, dating back to 1975 when the Latford scale replaced other, equally flawed systems.

The Latford scale was not designed nor intended to identify the best or most deserving team. Its intended mission was (a) to encourage more teams to race the whole schedule, and (b) to keep the championship standings close until the very end of the year. It's a very flat scale, pretty close to linear from the race winner to the very last place. As such, it under-rewards winning and over-rewards mid-field runners. It encourages a "coast & collect" mentality of points racing, and I always hated that dating back to the 1970's.

And the unsurprising result was that the "wrong" guys won the championship in multiple years. Look, the whole point of racing is to win, to run up front. And it's damn hard to do. Winning cup races is HARD to do, and it's supposed to be hard. When you accomplish that objective... and it's rewarded with only a tiny points margin over what the losers get... that ain't right. It just isn't.

It's also necessary to be realistic that Nascar is both a sport *and* a business that depends upon outside sales to be viable. If fans aren't buying tickets or tuning in to race broadcasts, the entire merry-go-round grinds to a halt. Empirically, sports fans' interest wanes after the championship outcome is decided or nearly decided. We as fans on keyboards can glibly ignore that if we choose to (I call it "spending OPM, other people's money") but actual real-world decision makers cannot ignore it. Nascar has swung that pendulum too far, however, and I believe they need a more natural approach toward "game 7 moments."

The Chase format from 2004-13 addressed some of the flaws from the Latford era, but made others worse, IMO. The points scale became even flatter than Latford, and the winners bonus from the regular season at the Chase reset was a paltry three points per victory. Both of these provisions should be offensive to anyone who thinks winning is important. OTOH, the ten-race mini-season was awesome. Every year, two or three teams would emerge from the crowd and duke it out for the big prize. I agree with @jaqua19, this was my favorite format, but needed a bigger winner bonus... 10 points not 3.

The 2014-16 elimination style playoff almost totally divorced the regular season from the championship, and over-emphasized the importance of avoiding racing misfortune during the chase. While advancing through the playoff rounds was a stern test of driver and team excellence, this format ignored the regular season too much for me to embrace.

The 2017 mods to the elimination style playoff restored the importance of the regular season, so that helped a lot. Playoff Points, baby! And a by-product of the stages is that the overall points system gets more progressive... bigger points haul for the front runners... a much-needed improvement although there are easier, simpler ways to accomplish that!

There are two big negatives inherent in the elimination style playoff. First, the focus tends to go toward the bottom of the playoff field... who is in danger of elimination... rather than focussing on the front and who is pulling ahead in championship form. And second, I still hate a one-race decider, even if the format ensures that all four teams in contention are championship worthy.
good and informative post, thank you for taking the time to type it all.

I very much preferred the style used up until the end of 2003 to determine the championship as to what we currently use.

What we have now is, in my opinion, ridiculously stupid that you could have 2 of your top 4 drivers in points, potentially not even make the "playoffs" and compete for the championship. But then you have drivers like Cindric and Briscoe who haven't done **** the rest of the year following their 1 win in the "playoffs"

Putting drivers in position to not outrace someone to make the next round, but by just flat out wrecking them. Ryan Newman in 2014 against Kyle Larson at Phoenix. Not even sure Newman hit his brakes. Kevin Harvick in 2020 needed to wreck Kyle Busch to advance, he tried and failed. The format now encourages WWE (Joey Logano in 2015, another example), not the art of outdriving your fellow racers. It also falls too much on luck. Let's look at the round of 12. You have 3 races, and 2 are total and utter chaotic. Talladega where it's almost entirely luck based who even survives, and the Roval. So you have 3 races to avoid the bad luck from your other competitors trying to take you out, you could lose an engine in one, or because Goodyear is incapable of making a good tire, blow a tire and crash. It's just stupid. Again, my opinion.

Every system has its flaw, I agree and I agree there are no perfect systems. But for this race fan, I just prefer the one used up until the end of 2003 that rewards the whole season.
 

AndyMarquisLive

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I can't stand the playoffs ... HOWEVER, we're only having this conversation about changing "win and you're in" because Ryan Blaney is on the outside looking in.

It's just like 2020. Everyone hated the format when Harvick missed the final four, then Chase Elliott won the championship and the format's flaws were forgiven.

If Blaney wins at Daytona or if when Chase Elliott wins the championship, the fans will love the playoffs again.
 
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