My Brain on NASCAR: Racing’s March Madness comes in the fall

col-cathyelliottAt the time of this writing, the four teams left standing are the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, the Orange of Syracuse, the Villanova Wildcats, and whatever that fourth team is … oh yeah, the Oklahoma Sooners, which many bracketology “experts” predict will be changing their name to the Laters, despite the fact that they started the tournament as a number two seed.

By the time some of you read this, you will already know the names of the two NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball teams that will duke it out (Duke University will not be one of them, sorry about that … NOT) on April 4 for the title of the 2016 National Champion.

When all of you read this, however, you will have no clear idea which four NASCAR drivers will compete for the big gold trophy, and the millions of green dollars that go along with it, that is awarded to the eventual champion at season’s end.

When police captain Louis Renault sent his subordinates to “round up the usual suspects” after a shooting in the film Casablanca, they didn’t hesitate. They knew exactly who to look for.

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been a lot like that. With few exceptions, the drivers we have seen vying for the title since the Chase was implemented in 2004 have been the same ones we expect to see in Victory Lane each week, guys like Carl Edwards, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and of course, Jimmie Johnson.

The general sentiment in NASCAR regarding rules seems to be that you’re wasting your time if you attempt to learn them all, as they are subject to revision quicker than a lead change at Bristol, and the Chase has generously served as a textbook example of that. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single season that hasn’t introduced at least one amendment to the Chase rulebook.

But despite some initial grumbling from purists who liked the old system – best described as “whichever guy has the most points at the end of the season’s last race wins the title” — the Chase has worked pretty well. TV viewership has increased thanks to the uncertainty it creates, and last year’s season finale enjoyed its largest television audience in a decade. Fans have not only grown accustomed to the Chase, but have actually learned to like it.

The result has surely been greater than even NASCAR might have expected. From day one, the Sprint Cup Series season has resembled a James Patterson novel, full of plot twists and turns, last-minute rescues and unlikely heroes with — also like a James Patterson novel – a brand-new edition every week.

Since 2014, the 10-race Chase has involved 16 drivers selected primarily on their wins during the “regular season”; if fewer than 16 drivers win races during the eligibility period, the remaining field is filled on the basis of points totals. These drivers compete against each other while also racing in the standard field of 43 cars.

There are three three-race segments in the Chase, and four drivers are eliminated from championship competition at the end of each segment, leaving only the top four eligible to win the title in the last race of the season. Whichever of those four drivers posts the best finish in that event is the champion. Yes, we even have our own final four. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, copy ‘em.

The similarities don’t end there. We already have our Sooners, guys like Johnson and Harvick, who have secured their Chase spots thanks to early wins. There’s an Orange or two; Carl Edwards in the #19 Arris Toyota comes to mind.

The Wildcats are too numerous to call out by name, and thanks to the sport’s predominantly asphalt tracks, everyone’s a Tar Heel … or maybe a “Tar Wheel” would be more apt.

What we don’t have is March Madness. In March, the racing season is still in its fledgling stages, with many thousands of miles to travel and dozens of races to run before the last checkered flag waves.

When you think about it, madness is overrated. By the time November rolls around, NASCAR could potentially ramp up to the level of full-blown insanity.

Comments

comments

Native son Drew Brophy returns for art retrospective

Native son Drew Brophy returns for art retrospectiveThe Myrtle Beach Art museum drew over a thousand folks [more]

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summer

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summerOlivia Drew was crying, and her mother, Brittany Drew, was [more]

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continue

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continueAlex Lange fired six excellent innings Thursday, but the Myrtle [more]

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silver

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silverThe frontrunners in this year's My Horry News All-County Girls [more]

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World Cup

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World CupAmerican soccer fans don't have a rooting interest in this [more]

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streak

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streakThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin the second half of the [more]

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star Game

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star GameA pair of Myrtle Beach Pelicans played key roles in [more]

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-South

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-SouthA pair of former teammates and rivals joined forces for [more]

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finale

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finaleThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped their final game of the [more]

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squad

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squadCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster and designated hitter Zach Biermann [more]

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny The Myrtle Beach Mutiny needed a wake-up call late Saturday [more]

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale today

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale todayAfter the Myrtle Beach Pelicans fell 2-1 to the Carolina [more]

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader today

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader todayVictor Diaz's seven strong innings for the Carolina Mudcats were [more]

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top list

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top listThe future looks bright for the sport of high school [more]

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nod

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nodCarter Hess carved his way to a spot on the [more]

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect start

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect startAfter Keegan Thompson was removed following seven perfect innings for [more]

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny win

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny winThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny rolled to a 6-0 victory over [more]

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-American

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-AmericanCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster was named to the Perfect [more]

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans game

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans gameThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome former MLB All-Stars and [more]

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transfer

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transferCoastal Carolina University men's basketball player Artur Labinowicz plans to [more]

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoff

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoffIn yet another development in the Grand Strand's booming sports [more]

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing Championship

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing ChampionshipLocal surfers, volunteers, and family members gathered at the Charleston [more]

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for club

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for clubIf things had worked out differently, Myrtle Beach High senior [more]

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of Omaha

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of OmahaThe University of South Carolina baseball team saw its season [more]

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star team

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star teamMyrtle Beach catcher Jhonny Pereda, right-hander Tyler Peyton and infielder [more]

Native son Drew Brophy returns for art retrospective

Native son Drew Brophy returns for art retrospectiveThe Myrtle Beach Art museum drew over a thousand folks [more]

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summer

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summerOlivia Drew was crying, and her mother, Brittany Drew, was [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach