I love pumpkin pie. It?s sweet, it tastes vaguely like pumpkin, and comes in pie form. Of course pumpkin is a difficult fruit to cook. It takes hours of cooking just to make pumpkin purée and it lasts long enough on the shelf that buying canned pumpkin will provide the same taste as fresh pumpkin. I would wager that the best pumpkin pie you have ever tasted was about the same as the worst pumpkin pie you ever tasted.
In the pre-chase modern era there were years when the points' race would be decided by narrow margins such as Petty beating Waltrip by 11 points in 1979 or Earnhardt beats Yarborough by 19 points in 1980. Kulwicki beating Elliott by 10 points in 1992 remains a sentimental favorite given Kulwicki?s death the next year. I'll spare us all the close pre-modern era championships as individual race wins were considered more important than championships at the time.
Fans of the Chase (misguided as they are) see only the flaws in the pre-chase system. They see seasons like 2003, 2001, 1987, or 1977 where whole seasons were dominated in otherwise boring manners. The Chase is hailed as a savior. Now every season (by design) will be determined by the last few races, and that?s the problem!
The Chase is like pumpkin pie. When you cut into that pie, you are excited because you know you are going to get something good. Outside of competitive eating, pie is not a sport. Knowing the outcome of a sporting event makes the event less fun to watch. If knowing the outcome had no effect on interest, then ESPN Classic would be the most watched channel in television history.
When a point system is designed to have a Champion decided by the last race, people watching will eventually realize that every race before it has become less important. When the early races are less important, they lose the interest of fair weather fans that put off watching the races until the Chase starts, at which point they intend to root for Driver Z. If Driver Z is Dale Earnhardt Jr., Juan Montoya, or Jamie McMurray, then they won?t bother watching the Chase races this fall while football is on TV. Without the Chase, they still might not watch in fall, but NASCAR would have their eyeballs in spring and summer.
Without the Chase, the Champion could win in a blowout, but sometimes he doesn?t. That?s the difference between eating something that?s different but full of flavor and something bland and familiar. Let?s just have racing in fall and pumpkin pie for dessert.
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