NASCAR:No Longer A Fair Sport by:Matt Martinez

NASCAR Driver Jimmie Johnson before 2016 has won six titles under the Chase format. During the first 26 races of the 2016 season, Jimmie Johnson had two victories and made the Chase because of those wins; However, Johnson had a career low in top five and top ten finishes after the first 26 races. He had only 7 top fives and 10 top tens finishes.

Johnson had a very unlucky season with multiple crashes, mechanical problems, and ill handling race cars. After the first 26 races were completed, Johnson had an average finish of 15th and multiple finishes of 20th or worse. Despite how poorly his finishes were, he was still in The Chase since he won those two races early on in the year.

Johnson went on into The Chase and collected 4 top 5's and 6 top ten finishes including three wins. Drivers that had consistantly good finishes all season such as Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. , were all eliminated from winning the title after not advancing into the following knock-out rounds. Jimmie Johnson went on into the season finale at Homestead and won a "Seventh Championship".

In 2014, the knock-out style of playoffs were added to The Chase. Jeff Gordon had what looked like a Championship season going for him. Gordon had the best average finish of all drivers (10.7), finished every single race, had the most top tens of all drivers (23), and won four races. The eighth race of ten in The Chase was at Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon was leading the race when a late caution came out. On the restart, Brad Keselowski tried to fit his car into a tight gap between Gordon and another car. This resulted in contact which caused Gordon's left rear tire to go flat. Gordon spun out and resulted in him finishing a heartbreaking 26th place. A huge fight occurred after the race between the two drivers and their pit crews. The following week, Gordon was eliminated from winning the Championship after failing to advance into the final round.

Kevin Harvick went on to win the title in 2014. Despite Harvick winning three races late in The Chase, statistics showed that if there was no Chase format, Jeff Gordon would have won the title, and Harvick would have finished 6th in points.
The Chase was first introduced to NASCAR in 2004 as a hopes to create a "Playoff System" for NASCAR. This included add 2000 bonus points to all drivers evening the field. Since it was created, drivers that were statistically the most consistent, in many cases did not win the title. In 2004, 2007, and 2014, Jeff Gordon would have won the championship those years, but due to The Chase, drivers that averaged from 2nd to 6th best won the title instead. Carl Edwards would have two championships instead of none, Kevin Harvick would have two instead of one, and Jimmie Johnson would have three instead of seven.
Left: NASCAR Winston Cup Championships were won by drivers under the original points system. Drivers such as Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and David Pearson have won these. Right: The Current Championship trophy that Jimmie Johnson has won seven times under The Chase format.

To conclude, I propose to NASCAR and the CEO of NASCAR Brian France to remove The Chase format from the NASCAR Cup Series and to resort back to the original format that was used before 2004. The current format is unfair to drivers that have put up great performances all season. This will create true Champions of the sport for putting up great numbers all season, rather than someone getting lucky in the last ten races.

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