Chase field lacks buzz

Chase field lacks buzz

It was the thrill of watching Dale Earnhardt, Jr. vie for his first championship while Jeff Gordon battled for his fifth that made last years 'Chase for the Championship' so compelling. This season with five Roush drivers, Ryan Newman, Rusty ...

It was the thrill of watching Dale Earnhardt, Jr. vie for his first championship while Jeff Gordon battled for his fifth that made last years 'Chase for the Championship' so compelling. This season with five Roush drivers, Ryan Newman, Rusty Wallace, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart set to battle it out; there is an overwhelming sense of 'blah'.

The 10 drivers who qualified for the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace, Carl Edwards, Jeremy Mayfield and Tony Stewart.
Photo by Getty Images.
Presumably, NASCAR instituted the 'Chase' format to draw attention to the end of the season, a time when most race fans have clicked over to the NFL. NASCAR was, also, the only major sport that did not have some sort of 'playoff' period. But, one has to wonder how good the 'Chase' is looking now with two of its biggest stars out of the headlines for the next ten weeks.

The best NASCAR can hope for is a sentimental win by Mark Martin, that if anything would at least get them top billing over football for one week. Methinks, that even a nation of rabid NASCAR fans couldn't give a flying you know what about watching Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth wrestle it out for the title.

They didn't make the robot commercial for nothing kids.

While I applaud NASCAR for not doing anything so crazy as a 'fan vote' to add a driver to the 'Chase' and c'mon you know they wanted to when the red Budweiser car kept smacking the wall; this years championship will fail to garner the fanfare and media buzz that it was designed to entice.

Many skeptics felt after Kenseth won the championship in 2003, that NASCAR made-up the 'Chase' in response. Feeling the somehow, Kenseth just winning one race, yet being consistent enough to forge on to win the championship was not what fans wanted to see.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
Wouldn't it be a hilarious swipe of karma if Matt Kenseth won one race in the 'Chase' to earn his second championship? Or if Kurt Busch could pulled off back-to-back championships? Man, Busch barely moved one t-shirt after he won the championship last year. The store at NASCAR.com estimated that they lost almost a million dollars in merchandise sales by a splashy driver not winning the Cup.

Busch shirts are already 50% off - if he wins again, he should just give them away at Homestead but I wonder how many we'd find discarded in the parking lot.

Look, the one thing the 'Chase' has done that it was supposed to do - is reward the people running the best after the first 26-races. It has certainly done that; no one can ever argue that the top-ten isn't the ten guys that most deserve to be there.

Yet it doesn't create a buzz for the final swathe of races on the Cup series schedule. Ratings were down significantly for Richmond and expected to continue to decline.

One would surmise that the ratings dip is predominately because NASCAR has taken away from the fans is the ability to watch a Jeff Gordon or a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rally in the closing events of the year to grab a spot within that top-ten.

I cannot imagine that there will not be some amendment to the format next year. Whether it is making the top-12 eligible to compete or allowing all race winners to compete who are outside of the top ten.

It was a nice try guys, but now give us something to get excited about.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin