The Chase: What They’re Saying
CONCORD, N.C. — Speedway operators from across the NASCAR world overwhelmingly voiced their support for the changes in the format for the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup announced by NASCAR Chairman and COO Brian France on Thursday.
Here’s a sample of what they were saying:
Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and COO: “With NASCAR’s changes to the point system, I think we can safely say points racing is dead. When it comes to race day, winning is the only thing that matters — period. The new system gives the drivers just 26 chances for only 16 spots in the Chase; That makes every single race critical. I think the changes are probably the best thing to happen in NASCAR in the last 10 years and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing how the increased incentive to win plays out on race day.”
Eddie Gossage, President and General Manager, Texas Motor Speedway: “I think this ratchets up the drama because you have got to perform. It’s almost now win or go home and if you don’t put some points up on the board during the Chase you are probably going to be out of it because every third race they are going to be kicking four guys out and they are out of the championship run. I think it puts a sudden death kind of spin on things where you are going to have to perform or else you are not going to win the championship and you are looking at next year.
“I think it will help the AAA Texas 500 in that by then you are getting down to it. There are eight drivers at that point that will have a shot at winning the championship. The next race – when you go down to Phoenix – it’s going to be a cutoff race so if you bobble here or if you have an off race – a cut tire, blown engine, some pit miscue – you may have well blown your 2014 season chances. This (AAA Texas 500) has been a critical race, the race that really determined the championship a few years ago. I think with this, the pressure is going to be even greater. We are going to see the champions rise to the top and the pretenders fall by the wayside.”
Clay Campbell, President Martinsville Speedway: “I am thrilled with the changes announced by Brian France today regarding the Chase to the Sprint Cup for 2014. Now the emphasis is where it belongs….winning! This should be one of the most exciting years ever for NASCAR and in particular, our fans.
“Now it’s very simple to understand how we determine our champion. You don’t need a calculator, you don’t need to ponder ‘what if’ scenarios and you don’t have to be a mathematic whizz. Every race is important now and the races here at Martinsville Speedway are always exciting so I can’t imagine how exciting it’s going to be now with winning being so important. The word ‘bumper’ does come to mind though! NASCAR has done a tremendous job over the past few years listening to our fans and I think this dramatic change is proof of that.”
Jerry Gappens, Executive Vice President and General Manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway: “In my opinion, this is one of the most significant changes in NASCAR history. I love it. The ‘wow’ factor for our 10-race playoff format just went up tenfold.
“Through the years, we have seen other professional and college sports expand participation in their respective playoffs. It has been extremely popular with fans and has created some outstanding drama, excitement and storylines. Think about ‘March Madness,’ Game 7s and the NFC-AFC championship games that featured four teams and two great games to set the stage for this Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“Competition is about winning. I hope I never hear a driver again say, ‘It was a good points day.’ This new format should eliminate that from everyone’s vocabulary.”
Matthew Becherer, President Homestead-Miami Speedway: “This is, without question, fantastic news for Homestead-Miami Speedway. We’ve had some exciting battles between two or three drivers during Ford Championship Weekend in our 12 years of hosting championship races, but now we are guaranteed to have four of NASCAR’s best Sprint Cup Series drivers battling head-to-head, all of whom will be on equal footing to win the championship. It will all come down to Homestead-Miami Speedway in a one-race shootout. No more calculating points — it’s simple – the best championship contender takes all. We applaud NASCAR for implementing these changes and its continued commitment to innovation. I think that I can speak for our community when I say that we are absolutely thrilled with this announcement.”
Atlanta Motor Speedway President & GM Ed Clark: “With our event being two races before the Chase begins, Labor Day Weekend becomes a critical pressure point for drivers who have not won in 2014. As it should be, Sprint Cup Series competition will be all about winning. The days of being content with a good points day are gone.”
Denis McGlynn, President Dover Int’l Speedway: “This is a great move at the right time. More than ever, the focus in every race during the season will be on winning, and I can see this changing race strategy everywhere the teams go,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “As for the 10-race Chase format, the changes will certainly be good for Dover in September, and the eliminations should create the same level of excitement we just witnessed in the recent NFL playoffs. The fans will love this.”
Phoenix Int’l Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber: “I think the new scoring system will have a very positive impact on the quality of racing throughout the year and particularly on a crucial stage such as our fall race. The November Cup race in Phoenix has been a fixture on the NASCAR calendar for the last 25 years, and these changes will only add to that. Our 50th anniversary is all about celebrating the rich racing history in Phoenix, and it’ll be great to cap it of by making some NASCAR history.”