What does it take to compete in NASCAR's new Chase?

What does it take to make it to the second round of NASCAR's new playoff format Chase?

The writing is on the wall.

You have to really perform if you want to stick around the chase.

I suppose that has always been the case ever since NASCAR introduced the Chase in 2004. In fact, with competition the way it has been the last 15 years, a champion has to have some pretty great average finishes.

But with the first “challenger round” complete, I thought it was important to see what sort of performance a driver would need to make it through the first round.

Of the drivers eliminated from contention this year, I thought Kurt Busch would make it through this round, but when you look at the results of those drivers who don’t move on to the next round it all makes sense.

Let’s start with Busch. 8th, 36th, 18th. That’s not gonna win you a championship. Aric Almirola was the only other eliminated driver to score a top 10 during the challenger round. His results were 41st, 6th and 21st.

Lacklustre performances

Out of the 12 results posted by the drivers figuratively heading home, only two were in the top ten.

Greg Biffle saw himself cross the finish line in 23rd, 16th then 21st yesterday. A.J. Allmendinger got close to a top ten once with finishes of 22nd, 13th and 23rd.

Now, the really fun statistic to look at is the average finish of these first three cuts…

Average finish was 21.25.

I have a feeling that guys like Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson are privy to these statistics and what they mean in the greater scheme of things.

To me, this year should be taken as a practice for both the drivers and crew chiefs. I feel like two top tens a mid field mulligan finish (nowhere worse than 20th) will get you through to the next round without issue in the coming years.

NASCAR has put a large emphasis on the win with this new system, but in this first round I feel like more people watched the bubble line than who was up front.

Keep that magical number of 21.25 in mind heading into the next three races…I think we might see it shrink dramatically.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , A.J. Allmendinger , Chad Knaus , Aric Almirola
Article type Commentary
Tags champion, chase, nascar, playoffs, post-season, statistics