Drivers ready for Chase changes

The dream of some of the Chase for the Nextel Cup venues changing in 2007 went up in a bitter cloud of dust when the NASCAR released next years schedule a few weeks ago, but the hope that NASCAR will find a way to tweak the point system has ...

The dream of some of the Chase for the Nextel Cup venues changing in 2007 went up in a bitter cloud of dust when the NASCAR released next years schedule a few weeks ago, but the hope that NASCAR will find a way to tweak the point system has not.

The drivers are split on whether or not there should be point alterations to the Chase. The differences are broad and not just beholden to racers who are likely to make the field this year.

Mark Martin, who is running his last full time season in the Cup series doesn't see a need for any changes, "I think you need to race like you always have. It's the same system they've been using basically for 50 years. It's been good enough for 50 years, so I think it is fine for now."

That is easy for Martin to say, it's the old school way of looking at things. The reality is, Martin has no victories this season, is ninth in points and could very well get kicked out of the mix if the No. 6 Roush Racing Ford team makes one critical mistake Saturday night.

For Kasey Kahne, who leads the series with five wins this year, it may be sour apples Saturday night if the No. 9 Evernham Dodge team doesn't make the top ten, yet Kahne isn't 100% positive that any changes should be made.

"I don't know of too many situations you'd be in with five wins and be on the outside looking in. As good as we've been all year, we've had six or seven races where we did not run well, if you take away half of my bad races I'd be sitting about third in points. I think wins do give you a lot of bonus points to a certain point. Usually if you win you've led a lot of laps and you've got at least 15 points right there and sometimes 20 if you have led the most laps."

Kahne's teammate, Elliott Sadler, who is not eligible for the Chase field this year, but did participate in the inaugural 2004 field for Robert Yates Racing does think that perhaps more points should be awarded to the race winner.

"This is not like normal stick-and-ball sports where you have one winner and one loser," explained Sadler. "We have one winner and 42 losers so why not give the winner more points. I think that is something that they need to look at."

Reigning series champion Tony Stewart doesn't mind some "fine-tuning" on the current format but he draws the line when he thinks that some people want to change the rules to assure that certain drivers make the field.

"I've got a great idea," mused Stewart. "Let's make the Chase 36 weeks long and let everybody be in the Chase then. If they're tweaking it to make sure certain guys get in, there's no point in even having a Chase. That's the frustrating side of it for us. With the theory of everybody talking about making sure certain guys make the Chase, if that's the case, they ought to just give them automatic places in the Chase and be done with it."

For someone who missed the Chase last year and was the center of a media blitz about it, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is somewhat more contemplative than Stewart, "I think they should give points for qualifying, not a lot but 1 or 5, something like that. A lot of effort goes into qualifying and all you really get now is to pick a good pit stall. But I think I am the only one beating that drum."

The only thing we know for sure is that we will be at the same 10 racetracks again in 2007. The various scenarios being run up the flagpole as far as Chase changes include widening the point gap (currently it's every driver in the top ten or within 400 points of first) to allow more drivers to compete, awarding more points for wins, awarding points for sitting on the pole and perhaps having the Chase field be everyone in the top ten and every driver who has won a race that season.

Nothing firm has been decided. And more than likely won't be officially presented until the close of the season.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Kasey Kahne , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin