Drivers endorse sweeping changes in NASCAR

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The drivers of NASCAR are supportive of the sweeping changes to the Chase format.

Since the rumored changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup title surfaced, the topic has garnered non-stop attention. During the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by the Charlotte Motor Speedway, drivers, owners and crew chiefs have been peppered with questions. While no one admits to knowing the specifics, there seems to be general agreement that a race winner qualifies, 16 drivers will advance to the Chase, knock-out rounds will occur and the final race at Homestead will decide the champion with four drivers vying for the title.

A majority of those speaking out are in favor of the wholesale changes, relying upon NASCAR to do whatever is good for the sport. Many believe NASCAR floated the story to seek reaction and feedback with the final specifics yet to be finalized. NASCAR officials are expected to reveal the new format and make other announcements at the media tour on Thursday.

Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson doesn’t believe the changes are aimed at him, even though some do not agree with him. “I don’t think I’m the reason that things have declined in our sport,” the champion said. “And I don’t think NASCAR is picking on me; I really don’t. I don’t think they are picking on the No. 48 or trying to keep them from winning.” According to Johnson, NASCAR likes to see history being made and his tying Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for first place in title is okay with the executives.

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“One race four cars at Homestead represent the biggest change to me,” Johnson noted. “Homestead is good to us, but it will change the way we race there.” He does believe that something big needs to happen for the Chase to matter. “If it is the right bullet, only time will tell.”

Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. admits he’s not a fan of changes but if changes are going to be made why not make them major. “At first I wasn’t exactly happy about the changes, but now I am all for it. And I think the drivers will enjoy it. It will be a structured-playoff that you see in baseball and football, and it should be more interesting to the fans.” He agrees the pressure to win will intensify, but he’s up for the task.

Carl Edwards and his Roush Fenway Racing team have fared well at Homestead, so he’s unconcerned about his performance there. But he’s concerned about drivers that win several races before experiencing mechanical problems, knocking him from the final Chase shootout. “The guy could dominate at Homestead and stand in victory lane while someone else is being crowned champion. That would be confusing to people. Whatever it is we do, I hope we stick with it for a long time, to give it creditability as something that is not constantly changing.” 623199

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Richard Petty, the seven-time champion, thought NASCAR has the PR aspect in mind with the shake-up. “When you get down to the championship deal, I think we won it five different ways with points,” the King commented. “Now, you are going to run one race and then you are going to have a champion. It is hard for me to envision it as when I raced you ran all year to determine a champion. With a one-race champion, I don’t know how that’s going to go over (with fans).” However, he projects the champion will be the best driver in the hunt.

Petty and everyone else credits NASCAR for its efforts in getting the sport more attention and wholeheartedly endorse the idea of changes that enhance the profile of stock-car racing.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Breaking news
Tags champion, chase, crash, dale earnhardt, jimmie johnson, nascar, qualifying, race, richard petty, road, win