Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Brief Opinion on NASCAR's New Format

With a new logo comes a whole new
era of racing.
Yes, this is a bit overdue, but there is a good reason for that.

I had a knee-jerk reaction when I first heard the news that NASCAR would be overhauling its race format and dividing each race into segments: I thought it was a terrible idea. That being said, I wanted to wait to write this opinion post until today because I wanted to give it a week or so to sink in.

Now, I'm not inherently opposed to the Chase, but I will admit, the traditionalist in me prefers the pre-Chase era. If NASCAR had had some form of the Chase since 1949, I would have no problem with it at all. But Jimmie Johnson's seven titles are virtually impossible to compare with Richard Petty's, since they were won under different points formats.

With these changes, it's now going to be impossible to compare a new driver's entire career to that of a driver from an earlier era. Chase Elliott will make a name for himself in NASCAR, but he'll do so with a different driving style, using different strategies, etc, than his father Bill used in his career. Not only will the Chase races and Championships look different, but every race will look different, as Cup Series veteran Regan Smith noted.

Based on what I've seen on social media, fan reaction has been mixed. Some find this change refreshing; others are traditionalists like me who are disappointed with such a major, sweeping change to all three series.

My main problem is not the format itself. My problem is that it's being used by an established series that has been around for nearly 70 years.

To borrow an example from open-wheel racing, Formula E is far different than Formula One when it comes to rules and regulations, and I have no problem with that. If NASCAR wanted to create some sort of electric or "green" racing series with Chevy Volts, Nissan Leafs and Toyota Priuses, I'd be happy with them using any format they want. It's a new series, why not try something different?

The three national NASCAR series, however, have already established themselves in tradition. I see no need to mix things up. Sure, the middle 100 laps can get boring sometimes, but to be honest, so can the second and third quarters of an NBA game.

In conclusion, I don't have a great feeling about this, but I also won't judge a book by its cover. The drivers all seem on board with this, so that's a positive sign. We'll know more after the first couple of races this season.

On a related note, my fellow Wikipedian, Justin Nguyen (or User:ZappaOMati), also gave his thoughts on the new format on his blog, which can be found here.

On an unrelated note, congrats to Jeff Gordon and his team on their Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona win today. It was well-deserved and only further cements Gordon's legacy as one of the greatest drivers of all time.