As the remaining "regular season" races begin to wind down, the scramble begins in earnest for the teams on the outside of the Chase trying to break their way in. So far, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have virtually clinched Chase berths with multiple wins and points. It's safe to say that probably anyone who has won a race so far in 2014 will be in the Chase as well, but there are no real guarantees.
I have complained loudly about NASCAR's ability to screw up a perfectly good thing by monkeying around with such things as points, the Car of Tomorrow, the infamous splitter, and numerous other changes that have taken place since Brian France took over the reigns of my favorite sport.
This time, though, I think NASCAR got it right.
The complaint in the past has been that not enough emphasis was placed on winning races. That's changed. You pretty much have to win to get into the Chase now. Even one win does not necessarily guarantee a Chase spot.
Consistency is also important in the road to the Chase. Putting together a good string of top 5 and top 10 finishes definitely increases your ability to get into the Chase early. A team that is assured of a spot early can afford to experiment more, and get set up for the actual Chase for the Cup. A team that's fighting their way in has to protect itself at all costs and not have a bad finish, or else their hopes for a championship may go down the drain.
I don't often compliment NASCAR, but I see the new points structure as one of the best changes they've made in recent years.
A shout out to my new favorite writer, PattyKay Lilley at Racefansforever.weebly.com Click here for PattyKay's latest.
On to Indy after a weekend off!