The sport of NASCAR is one deep in traditions and roots, and of course that would be the case for something that has been around for over 60 years. A lot of the people following the sport have their opinions about the current affairs of the sport, ranging from the procedures of how cautions are handled all the way to how the season long Championship is rewarded. Many people like what NASCAR created in 2004, called the Chase for the Nextel (Sprint now) Cup, which was essentially them creating a sort of playoff system for the sport. *Note: I hate how they call it a playoff. You’re driving a car, and unless there is a halftime football throwing contest each event it shouldn’t be called playoffs! My soapbox moment* And there are many more who hate it and think NASCAR should never have left the season long Championship system they’ve always had. This group is more vocal, you’ll see their comments on the Facebook NASCAR page and at other various sites complaining about the Chase and hating on it. But the ones who don’t mind it or even love it vote with their remotes, and by the millions and millions they show support for each Chase race. The last two races also sold out. So over 100,000 fans across those events voted that they didn’t mind it. So I firmly believe the complainers lose; there aren’t thousands upon thousands clicking like on the anti-Chase comments on the Facebook page. Either way, the point is that it’s divisive. The point of this article isn’t to talk about all the hate or love one way or the other but rather, to make a post talking about various Chase forms and asking which one do you think would be the most fun to play in the future NASCAR game they’re working on. Assume you can at the beginning of the Career mode choose one of a few Chase systems; which would you pick? That’s the point of this post. So let’s talk about some of the Chase systems that exist all across NASCAR and see which one you think would be the best!
To make it simple I’m only going to talk about systems NASCAR is either using or has used in the past. There are so many different formats I’ve created in my mind and if you follow NASCAR fairly consistently you likely have your own as well. If you have please tell me about it in the comments! But I want this article to be somewhat simple so that’s the way I’m going to handle it. So I’ll do a point that’s obvious for the different systems I want to talk about and describe the gist of them, then you pick the one you think you’d more than likely pick if you had an option to a particular Chase in the newest NASCAR video game that’s supposed to come out next year. Simple right? So here it goes!
Chase Format #1: The 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. This Chase model was set up basically like this: the top 10 in points after the 26th race (called the regular season from here on out) qualify for the Chase. If you’re a driver who has wins but who is outside of the top 10 in points after the regular season, up to 2 only, can be in as a wild card. So 10 make it for sure on their final standings in the regular season and two more get a shot if they are winners but within range of the top 10. Then you all start the final 10 races and whoever gets the most points in that time frame becomes the Champion. If I remember correctly you also got bonus points for your wins after the regular season ended. So basically everybody was tied after the points got reset but your wins would give you bonus points to help you in the final 10. After all of the sorting out it’s no different than the normal season. It lends itself to being a consistency based championship, yes even with the reset. Not always mind you but the key to victory in that Chase is to make it initially with as many wins as possible and to be consistent in the final 10. And you don’t get bonus points if you make it in as a wild card, so you want to be in the top 10 already if you have wins. You never know how much you may need those points!
Chase Format #2: The 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. This model was set up to make NASCAR have a playoff system more like the NFL with eliminations and a winner take all finale. This one has a lot of fans and lot of people who hate it, so you just have to pick your stand. Gimmick or not it does add to the drama of the season, just like the NFL’s system which it too is a useless gimmick in the same manner, so if you can accept that you can accept this one, just my 2 cents. Either way, you set this one up by winning a race in the 26 race regular season. As long as you do that you’re entered into the Chase bracket. 16 drivers make the Chase under this format so as long as there are only 14 or 15 winners in the regular season then wins will always determine who gets to make it in the Chase for round one. You do have to be in the top 30 in points as well, and you’re supposed to (see Kyle Busch 2015 Champion) also compete in each race in the regular season. If you do those few things then you’ll be one of the 16 who start the Chase. Let’s assume you’re playing the future game and only 10 drivers win by race 26. At that point the rest of the top 16 are set by points, so it means if you aren’t winning you want to be as high in the points as you possibly can. This is where this Chase take another twist, far different than just business as usual like my first point.
I’ll even split it into a few paragraphs that way it’s not too jumbled. So when you have the 16 Chase drivers set you take the final 10 races on, and that’s the only real similarity to the other system I just mentioned: there are 10 races, same tracks and all. That’s it. Before in the Chase you go for the final 10 trying to be consistent like the regular season, no major changes there. But this one sees eliminations and multiple mini seasons within the Chase, leading to a winner takes all finale among 4 Chase drivers. Each round is three races long. At the end of each round 4 drivers from the Chase will be eliminated and won’t be able to count their season for the Cup anymore. If you win any of the three races you automatically advance to the next round, which stands true all the way to the final race. Winning in round 1 advances you to round 2. Win in round 2 and you get to be in round 3. Win then and you’re one of the final 4. That’s the gist of it. If you’re not one of the winners then you want to be the highest in points above the cutoff line so you advance too. So in a way points are still important, but against a very unique system. If you make it to the final round you simply have to be the best finisher of the group. Beat the other 3 and you’re the Champion! That’s the system used in the current NASCAR Victory Edition game and I have to say it’s quite fun to play, I love having to perform under pressure that the Winston Cup points games never provided.
Chase Format #3: NASCAR European system. They don’t have a Chase so I won’t put that in the title but they do have a playoff system similar to the one here in America. Well it’s actually not all that similar but it is in that it’s a playoff type system. Their format is actually quite simple, very easy to get: the final 4 races are worth double points. That’s it. That’s their Chase. They race their entire season, which doesn’t have too many races, and they simply have double points on the line for the final races. I almost wish this was how the Cup series did it in real life; it’s a far more natural Winston Cup feeling playoff system. But that’s for another time. Gaming wise it may not be quite as exciting I must admit, but as you’re playing you’d be striving to finish as highly as possible to that time building your points so that when it doubled you’d either be able to build a larger lead or leapfrog your way on up! It doesn’t have a winner take all finale as a rule but if the points fall that way you never know.
So, in the next major NASCAR game, assuming you can choose one of these three, which would you pick? My top pic is option 2 of the 2015 Chase and then option 3 of the European playoff. I think those two offer the most fun for sure. But how about you? Which would you pick and why?