Who’s Abbott, Who’s Costello and Who’s on First
By: Vivian Simons & PattyKay Lilley
Author's Note: My articles are based solely on my opinions. Normally no statistics are offered. Enjoy and feel free to comment afterwards...
Gentle readers, what you’re embarking on here is a journey through the high-jacking of an article by an unscrupulous editor… me. By the time you read this, I have of course, obtained Vivian’s permission to run her perfectly good article in this dual configuration.
(Editor’s Note: This is intended as a bit tongue and cheek throughout, with enough facts thrown in to worry and concern the reader even as he laughs. It started with the two of us joking around in the Fan Forum and evolved from there to the farcical article you’re reading.)
If you find this type of give-and-take conversational article pleasing, we’d appreciate hearing about that. Likewise, we’d like to know if you find it distracting or just plain don’t like it. Either way, here at Race Fans Forever, your opinions count!
Last month I wrote an article called "The Chase is Coming! The Chase is Coming! In case you missed reading it, you can find it right here.
This past Sunday I, along with many others, watched the first of NASCAR's playoffs/chase races. They were in Chicago, a mile and a half track which a lot of us refer to as a cookie cutter track. As history shows, most longtime fans are not too fond of those tracks. Some of the drivers like them and some excel when they race on them.
As we were watching this race, we kept hearing about the 16 drivers who were eligible to be their Season Champion by surviving these last 10 races and the final race at Homestead would give us that champion.
While some of us were discussing the happenings at this race I asked if someone could once again explain to me how this playoff thing works. The response came back from our editor, PattyKay. The answer was, and I quote her here:
"After the 3rd race, 4 are eliminated. 12 race the next 3 races and after race 6, 4 more are gone. Now they are 8 and after race 9, 4 more are eliminated. The final 4 race at Homestead and the highest finisher among them is our "Season Champion." Unquote
(After reading her answer, I posed the following thoughts and questions, purposely playing the “straight man” and the game was on from there.)
So let me get this straight…
NASCAR Cup Series now has a playoff/chase. Is that correct?
Well, that’s what they’re calling it now. In my latest “A Voice for the Fans” article, I explained how at its inception in 2004, that was promised never to be the case.
There are 16 eligible drivers in this playoff chase. However, there will be a total of 40 drivers competing for the win in each of the 10 playoff /chase races. Correct?
To me that is why it is such a farce.
For the first 3 races, these 16 eligible drivers race each other plus another 24 drivers that are on track with them. Right so far?
After those 3 races, there are only 12 drivers out of those original 16 racers who are eligible now and for the next 3 races, they race each other plus another 28 drivers that are on the track with them.
Exactly so! “Eliminations” in “NASCAR speak” doesn’t mean what the same word means in simple English.
Then after those 6 races, 8 of the original 16 eligible drivers have to race each other the next 3 races, plus another 32 drivers that are on the track with them. Are you with me here?
Every step of the way.
Now they have raced 9 of the 10 playoff/chase races and 4 of the original 16 eligible drivers are left to race each other in one final race, plus they have to race another 36 drivers that are on the track with them? SMH here trying to make sense of it.
I never promised you that it made sense. In reality, it is completely and totally senseless, but you asked for an explanation and this is as close as I get to deciphering what goes on in the remaining grey cells within the head of one Brian Z. France.
A Season Champion (sorry but I don't understand what they mean by season champion here) will be the lucky one who was able to gain more points in that last race against 36 other drivers they raced in this final race who never even had a chance to be a champion. Again, SMH
I guess this point could use a bit of clarification. At no time throughout the ten races are the “Chase” drivers competing with the rest of the cars/teams/drivers for the Championship, only with each other, though the other drivers are all competing for wins and points; they just can’t win the Championship. Therefore, in the Homestead race, the driver that finishes highest in points among those four only, gets to claim the title of Champion.
Is that correct? All 40 drivers get to stay on track for all 10 races...doesn't makes sense at all.
Yes Hon, that is correct, and I never promised you a rose garden, or that it would make sense. It made no sense to any thinking person in 2004, and annual changes or “Tweaks” as NASCAR would have them called, have done nothing to improve that. I guess we could look at the extraneous cars and drivers as hazards, like on a golf course, there to make the going tougher. Still I can’t help but think of a Super Bowl being played with all 32 teams in action on the field. It makes every bit as much sense as our “Chase!”
What is the real meaning of what they call playoffs/chase? And can you tell me what the definition of elimination is? I don't understand. If there were eliminations, why is there still 40 drivers racing in that final race?
According to Merriam Webster, to “eliminate” is:
A: to put an end to or get rid of
B: to remove from consideration
C: to remove from further competition by defeating
Now you’re starting to see what I’ve been telling folks for a dozen years. There is a definite difference between what race fans know and understand and what Brian France infers from the same words.
Did I correctly describe what is going on in the final 10 races of the season and their convoluted system of playoffs?
Sadly, yes you did.
I keep going over these rules and I still have a hard time relating these rules for a playoff system to any I have ever come across before.
One definition I found of playoff is: A final game or series of games played to break a tie.
That definition brings up another question. If, after 26 races, none of these drivers were tied, what happens? So, at that time NASCAR "adjusts and resets" the points which results in some of these 16 drivers being tied in points, but some were not. That in itself nullifies the idea of a tie between the drivers; yet they persist in calling the last 10 races a playoff and/or chase scenario.
In this case, I’d suggest that the “tie” definition does not fit the circumstances. That would refer to a single game or contest, not a season-ending playoff between leagues or conferences, and with today’s sophisticated electronic timing, ties do not occur in racing. There is always a winner.
When in doubt, consult Merriam-Webster for factual content, and here’s how they define playoffs:
“A series of contests played after the end of the regular season to determine a championship —often used in plural”
I especially like that definition because it clearly states that playoffs occur only after the “regular season.” In this case, NASCAR had to steal 10 races from their own “regular season” to create this unnatural piece of gamesmanship because it pleases the man that writes the checks.
Perhaps you have some thoughts or opinions about this. Please feel free to offer them or discuss them in our comments section below.
My final thought would be the soundbite that always leaps to mind whenever someone mentions NASCAR and Playoffs in the same breath.
Thank you for reading and expressing your thoughts. -Vivian
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!