By D.A. Lail, edited by Andrew Lail
Everyone has their own opinions about racing at Daytona. Some love it and some hate it. With this playoff format that is in place, I’m starting to be one of the ones that hate it.
I’m starting to agree it’s a damn miracle no one gets killed. The playoffs format that NASCAR has in place basically only rewards wins. The result that comes from that is that everyone not in the playoffs drives like a maniac to win to make playoffs. This results in drivers having no regard for who they are racing.
I think this the case because after years of drivers talking big and bad saying “I’m gonna get their ass come next weekend”, then not doing anything the following week has given drivers a sense of security. They think, “I’ll drive though him to get this win because he won’t really get me back.” Then, If they actually do get them back and wreck them, NASCAR calls you to the hauler and throws you under the bus for getting revenge. This prompts drivers to stop getting payback, which then prompts drivers to think I’ll drive though him and NASCAR will protect me.
Prime example would be Ross Chastain. No one is going to do anything to get him back because he’s caused so many wrecks, it would be obvious if they retaliated against him. Larson knew that in racing teammates, he knows Chase can’t flat out wreck him because that will piss off Rick Hendrick, their team owner, and make everything worse. He can say he is sorry and will do the same thing the next week.
So how does this get fixed? No more “stages”. No more “overtime”. No more playoffs.
Dominant teams with skilled drivers will win races. They will also be consistent. Drivers and teams will be rewarded for being consistent and will be in the hunt at the end of the year. Basically, do what worked for 70+ years. Also, make the NASCAR rule book public. If you need guidance on this NASCAR, please see Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Richard Petty, and Carl Edwards.
You want the sport to grow? Stop trying to neutralize the field so “everyone can be a winner”.