The Herald Bulletin

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Sports

October 10, 2013

Rick Teverbaugh: NASCAR needs changes for the Chase

Only occasionally will the sport of auto racing be approached in this column.

That’s not because I have no interest in the sport or no knowledge about it. It is mostly because my esteemed colleague, Ken de la Bastide, devotes his entire column every week to that sport and his column runs on Wednesdays right before my first column of the week.

But sometimes there is a topic that gets under my skin enough that I will alter my tendency and write about auto racing anyway. This is one of those times.

NASCAR really needs to change the way it conducts its competition for the championship.

There are four drivers who started the final 10 races with a chance at the title who didn’t deserve that opportunity. Those drivers are Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer.

Why am I picking on those drivers? Because those four haven’t done the most important thing a driver needs to do before being considered a driving champion — they haven’t won a race. That isn’t right and it isn’t good for the sport.

Right now the current points system virtually prevents drivers from driving as hard as they can in an all out effort to win. Why? Because the risk of losing points should something go wrong is so much greater than the reward for winning.

There are several simple steps NASCAR could take to rectify this situation and to perhaps rejuvenate some interest in the sport, which was once a rival to the National Football League for the number of fans and the loyalty level.

The first step would be to make it a requirement for a driver to win at least one race before making the chase. Even a driver who finished in the top 10 every race would be on the outside looking in with a victory during the season.

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