Report: NASCAR considers big changes to the Chase for the Championship

Published On: Jan 18 2014 12:37:15 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 18 2014 09:08:00 AM CST

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Major changes could again be coming to the way NASCAR crowns its champion. According to a report in the ‘Charlotte Observer,’ NASCAR is considering a change for the Chase for the Championship.

According to the report, the number of drivers in the chase would expand from 12 to 16 and once the Chase starts drivers would be eliminated from contention after the third, sixth and ninth race.

The ‘Observer’ also says spots in the Chase would first be filled by drivers with the most wins and if 16 drivers do not have a win, the remaining spots would go to the drivers with the highest points.

As it has been since 2011, drivers would be reseeded in the Chase according to wins and then four drivers who are the lowest in the standings after Dover would be eliminated, four more after Talladega and finally four after  Phoenix, leaving four drivers in contention for the title at the final race in Homestead.  Kansas Speedway would be the first race after on the schedule after the first round of eliminations.

According to the report in the ‘Observer’ the final race would basically a winner take all between the four remaining drivers.

NASCAR Chief Communication Officer Brett Jewkes released a statement in response to the report on Friday.

“NASCAR has begun the process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format. This dialogue is the final phase of a multi-year process that has included the review of extensive fan research, partner and industry feedback and other data-driven insights. NASCAR has no plans to comment further until the stakeholder discussions are complete. We hope to announce any potential changes for the 2014 season to our media and fans very soon.”

Drivers have taken to twitter to react to the report. Denny Hamlin, who has made the Chase every season he has been in the Sprint Cup Series, except last season when a back injury caused him to miss four races, tweeted:

This points system change is going to be a really good thing. Trust in it and watch how exciting each chase race is going to be. Every race will be a fight to get out of the bottom 4 of the standings. Races will play out like Richmond each race. Minus the arm scratching. -@DennyHamlin

Part-time driver and future broadcaster Jeff Burton reacted with this tweet:

I agree that our sport needs to settle on a point system and stick with it. If this new system is implemented then it needs to stay! -@JeffBurton

NASCAR first introduced the Chase for the Championship system in 2004 and it has been changed three times in the ensuing 10 seasons. In 2007 is when NASCAR expanded the chase from a field of 10 to 12. In 2011, NASCAR began seeding the Chase drivers based on wins and changed the final two Chase spot to wild cards reserved for the drivers with the most wins outside the top 10 in points. Last season, just before the Chase began, NASCAR expanded the field from 12 to 13 drivers in reaction to a perceived conspiracy to manipulate the race at Richmond.