The possibility of NASCAR reinventing the format of the Chase for the Sprint Cup has drawn commentary from many quarters – some positive, but more leaning toward the negative. It’s no secret that NASCAR chairman Brian France wants the focus to be on winning races rather than the accumulation of points, and has made some adjustments over the years to the original format introduced in 2004 to achieve this goal. The latest proposal, however, is the most drastic of all and will change the series completely if it is introduced.
The proposal reportedly includes increasing competitors in the Chase for the Sprint Cup from 12 to 16, with a win in any of the season’s first 26 races putting a driver in line for entry into the championship. Should there be more than 16 winners in those 26 races, then the 16 drivers with the most wins as well as the highest in points would qualify for the Chase. Once the field for the Chase was established, a round of elimination races would whittle competitors down to 4 for the final winner-takes-all race. The elimination races would take place after the third, sixth and ninth races of the Chase with 4 drivers being eliminated each time and the remaining 4 drivers going into the final race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with points reset and tied in the Sprint Cup standings.
When asked to comment on the proposed changes, vice president and chief communications officer of NASCAR, Brett Jewkes, was quoted as saying that NASCAR had started the “process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format.” He went on to state that the briefing was the final phase of extensive research, feedback and “data-driven insights”.
The point has been made that implementing these changes would make historical comparisons impossible as the formats are too different. Also, the championship title would lose its value if the final race is the decider, rather than awarding it to the driver who has shown skill and endurance through the season under varying conditions and on different tracks, thereby gaining points. Some observers have noted that it’s entirely possible NASCAR is putting the idea out there to gauge response before making an official announcement. With the 2014 Sprint Cup Season starting in February, fans won’t have long to wait to find out if a new format is on the cards for 2014.
Established in the North Carolina city of Charlotte in May 2010, the NASCAR Hall of Fame honors exceptional drivers, crew chiefs, owners and other players in this exciting sport. The 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees are Tim Flock, Maurice Petty, Dale Jarrett, Jack Ingram and Fireball Roberts, who will join the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Bill France (Senior and Junior), Richard Petty, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood, among others, in the history annals of NASCAR.
Coming from a family of auto racing enthusiasts which included his sister Ethel Mobley (NASCAR’s second female driver) and bothers Bob Flock and Fonty Flock, Tim Flock (1924–1998) is considered to be one of the early pioneers of NASCAR. Tim Flock finished NASCAR’s first official season in 1949 in eighth place, with brothers Fonty in fifth and Bob in third overall points. After sitting out the 1950 season, Flock won seven races in 1951, and eight in 1952, the year he won his first Grand National Championship title. In 1995, Flock won his second Grand National Championship title, with 19 poles and 18 wins in the 45 races he completed that year. In 1998, shortly before his death at the age of 73, Flock was honored as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Other achievements include induction in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991; the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1999; the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1972; the State of Georgia Hall of Fame in 1972; the Charlotte Motor Speedway Court of Legends in 1994; and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Known to many simply as “Chief” Maurice Petty was the engine builder and crew chief for Petty Enterprises for many years. He is the fourth member of the Petty family to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the others being his father Lee, older brother Richard, and cousin Dale Inman. Although he had a brief driving career which included seven top five and sixteen top ten finishes, his talent in the auto racing industry lay in engine building, which he did with remarkable skill.
Currently a sport commentator for ESPN/ABC , Dale Jarrett’s racing career includes winning the Daytona 500 three times and the Brickyard 400 twice. He won 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and was winner of the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. With his father Ned having been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May 2011, the Jarretts are the third father-son inductees, the other two being Bill France Sr. and Jr., and Lee and Richard Petty.
Former NASCAR Busch Series race car driver Jack Ingram won 31 races and five poles, along with the 1982 and 1985 championships, during eight Busch Series seasons. It’s worth noting that Ingram was over the age of 45 when he claimed his victories, and held the record for the most Busch Series wins until Mark Martin broke the record in 1997. In addition to being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Ingram was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Nicknamed “Fireball”, Edward Glenn Roberts (1929-1964) was one of NASCAR’s pioneering drivers who gathered a host of achievements during his career, including winning the Daytona 500 in 1962 and twice winning the Southern 500 (1958 and 1963). He was voted 1957 Grand National Series Most Popular Driver and named as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1995. Sadly, Roberts crashed in the World 600 in Charlotte on May 24, 1964, and died from complications related to his extensive burn injuries on July 2, 1964. His accident prompted NASCAR to introduce more stringent fire-related safety measures and his memory lives on in NASCAR history.