France dismisses "playoff" theory

Just when everyone was pretty clear on the championship point system change for the Nextel Cup series, NASCAR chairman Brian France announced yesterday that it will not be a playoff format. "I wouldn't at all because a playoff implies a lot of...

Just when everyone was pretty clear on the championship point system change for the Nextel Cup series, NASCAR chairman Brian France announced yesterday that it will not be a playoff format.

"I wouldn't at all because a playoff implies a lot of things, notably that it's the best-of-three, single-elimination," said France at an informal Q&A session at DIS Wednesday. "We're not talking about something like that. We're talking about something that has a big element of consistency, as much as two-and-a-half months, and you've heard 10 races.

"There'll be some features to what we announce that have not been reported that when that gets out and everybody understands how much thought and what occurs, then our fans, and certainly the drivers -- we know that if we change anything, there's a natural negative reaction, and we understand that.

"But when we lay out ultimately what we're going to do, everybody will go, 'You know what? That makes some sense.' Secondly, this isn't going to be one of these that you do and don't know what the result is. We're going to see the results. We'll see it as early as this fall, and we'll see it year after year.

"We are largely confident that the plan that I know of that is on the table is going to work and is going to grow the sport, period."

While France may not want to call the modification to the championship system a "playoff", the fact still remains that only an elite number of racers will battle for the title in the last ten events of the season. NASCAR is expected to announce the full outline of the new point system design during the media tour in Charlotte on Tuesday.

Drivers and fans have been quite vocal of their distaste for the new method, most vociferously has been four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon; who feels the new system is "entertainment" driven.

France dismissed Gordon's complaints, "We are in the entertainment business. Hopefully our events entertain people."

France also implied that the current Cup schedule might get a further facelift in 2005, "It's going to move around some in the future. If you look at the mix of tracks in the last ten, it's pretty good.

"We're pretty confident, but there will always be some realignment changes."

Details of exactly how the championship picture will enfold this season, will be brought to you after the announcement next week.

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Series NASCAR Cup