Blog Entry

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Posted on: October 27, 2008 7:52 pm

I have posted this on the Racing Board, but I decided to do a blog.  NASCAR instituted the Chase to bring excitement to the final ten races of the season and to help with the ratings against the NFL.  The problem with the chase is that by the time you get down to the last 3 or 4 races the chase is down to  2 or 3 teams with a chance to win the title and by the time the last race is ran there is usually only 2 drivers if that, that have a realistic chance for the title. 

I know that the purest of fans don't like the chase and they certainly don't want to see another gimmick instituted by NASCAR to try to make the championship excititing but I think giving each team 2 mulligans prior to the final race of the season will do exactly what NASCAR wants and that is bring the number of potential champions down to 6 to 8 drivers. 

Why a mulligan you may ask, well, several things can happen to a chase driver that is beyond his control.  Let's take Kyle Bush for example he was tearing up the circuit going into the chase but the first race he had a part break that held the swaybar in place and he had a horrible finish and went from the lead to around 8th in the points.  The very next race his engine blows up and now he is 12th and basically a race behind.  Then there is 'Dega and the big one.  Several chaseres lost their chance by getting caught up in the "Big One" at 'Dega and with the way JJ is running he is now over a race ahead of his second place competition.  And unless he gets a 43rd place finish at Texas you can basically mail him the trophy. 

So how would the chase look if we used Mulligans today, the following points will be after the race at Atlanta.

  • CARL EDWARDS - 1065   -183
  • GREG BIFFLE - 1063   - 185
  • JEFF BURTON - 1030  - 218
  • KEVIN HARVICK - 941- 307
  • JEFF GORDON - 936  - 312
  • CLINT BOWYER - 934 - 314
  • TONY STEWART - 847 - 401
  • MATT KENSETH - 835- 413
  • DALE EARNHARDT JR - 829 - 419
  • DENNY HAMLIN - 823 - 425
  • KYLE BUSH - 783 - 465

Now this is how the points would look if we used the mulligans, I am only counting the chase points plus the bonus points.

  • CARL EDWARDS - 920
  • JIMMIE JOHNSON - 910    -10
  • GREG BIFFLE - 835   -75
  • JEFF BURTON - 809 - 101
  • JEFF GORDON - 761 -149
  • MATT KENSETH - 747  -163
  • TONY STEWART - 719 - 191
  • DENNY HAMLIN - 712  -198
  • KEVIN HARVICK - 709  -201
  • CLINT BOWYER - 704 -206
  • DALE EARNHARDT JR. - 690 -220
  • KYLE BUSH - 683 -227

Now even if JJ had 2 bad races in a row he would still be in the hunt, and if any of the other drivers have a bad race the last 2 races before Homestead then it could take them out of contention.  But right now we have at least 6 drivers with a shot at the championship and at least  the top 4 with a very legit shot.  And if any of the top 6 drivers win one of the next 2 races they will close the gap even more.  And then it would come down to the last race and there the drivers have to hope they don't have a bad race at Homestead.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Chase, NASCAR

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: October 29, 2008 2:46 am

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

I love mulligans on the golf course.  On the race track may be a different story.  The idea has some merits for discussion, but in practicality may not be the best thing for the sport.  It does artifically tighten the chase.  It would give my favorite two in the chase, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards a better shot at the title.  In the end, the championship has to be won on the track and not by deleting bad performances.  Whether people like the chase or not, usually the winner is the best driver that year.  Maybe not everyone likes Jimmy Johnson and Chad Knaus, but they know how to get it done the last half of the season.  They deserve the big lead because they earned it.  The chase has detractors and supporters as well, but it is the system we now have.  Not every race is a down to the wire thriller and not every season gets decided in the last 10 laps at Homestead.  We all still watch and listen because we enjoy the races, the exciting radio calls (especially the MRN announcers), and listening for our favorite to somehow pull it out and win.  Mulligans in the chase would be like NASCAR considering something like letting guys get back on the lead lap if they're the first one a lap down.  Waht a lucky dog they would be.  You just never know what surprises await.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 4:44 pm

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Question, MRW, and all others who view and don't like my idea.  You have to honest and upfront on your answer though.  If JJ has the title clinched by Homestead what will you watch more of, Sunday NFL or Homestead? 

Absolutely honestly, I'd watch more of NASCAR, I'd watch Homestead (Technically, as I have no TV, I'd actually listen to more of NASCAR--the no TV thing is a choice for my family, but that doesn't stop me from being a very avid listener).

If were 4 to 6 Drivers with a legit shot at the championship using the mulligan rule, no matter how much you like/dislike it, what will you watch more of, Sunday NFL or the Race?

Of course, it would be the same for me.  I like the NFL, but NASCAR (and circle track motorcycle racing) is my sport. 

That said, let me add that I know exactly what you're getting at, Mikeyfan  Of course, if it's all about ratings, it may well be that a mulligan will make the ratings higher as we move through the Chase.  But this principle can only be taken so far. 

If you "overmulligan", you run the risk of making early Chase races less important and depressing ratings there; you also run the risk of encouraging the drivers to race like lunatics and take out half the field every race.  For example, you could surely devise a system where, by throwing out the three or four or five worst finishes of all Chase contenders, virtually everyone in the top 12 would have a shot going into the final race or two.  Of course, this would shoot ratings through the roof for the last race or two--but it would also hurt the ratings of the earlier races in the Chase format and lead to the walls getting knocked right through at several tracks.

That said, if a mulligan would increase ratings, it's worth consideration.  Hey, that's the principle behind the Chase in the first place.  Essentially, you have several drivers who got to mulligan a whole bunch of bad finishes going into the Chase.  Finishing first or twelfth means very little as the Chase begins--essentially a mulligan for all but the top driver heading in--in this case, Kyle. 

I see your point, but I'm not sure which way would be the best to go.  The no-mulligan system has more integrity to my eyes; the mulligan route probably would increase ratings.  But I'd be careful with the mulligans--not too many.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 2:11 pm

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Mikey - I can honestly say in answer to both questions I will be watching the football game. If NASCAR really wants to boost ratings, have all the races on Saturday night once football season starts.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 1:21 pm

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Question MRW, and all others who view and don't like my idea.  You have to honest and upfront on your answer though.  If JJ has the title clinched by Homestead what will you watch more of, Sunday NFL or Homestead? 

Now answer this question:

If there were 4 to 6 Drivers with a legit shot at the championship using the mulligan rule, no matter how much you like/dislike it, what will you watch more of, Sunday NFL or the Race?

If you answer NFL on the First question and the Race on the Second, then that answers all questions on the mulligan rule doesn't it? 

I know I will watch the race however, I may do a lot more channel surfing If I know JJ already has the title won, especially if Mikey is having a bad day,  however, like I have done the past 9 weeks, I watch the race not the NFL when the race is on.  I may flip a couple of time to the game, otherwise I keep up with the games with my fantasy teams.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 1:04 pm

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?


You're one of my favorite posters, but I don't like the idea of a mulligan.  Why?  No, not because it would place my guy in second rather than first, but because in essence, drivers already have something like a mulligan as it stands.  They get to run other races to make up those points lost in a bad engine day or bad bump draft day (Carl's had both). 

Not so in other sports, such as the NFL.  Have one bad game, one poor break, in the playoffs, and you're out.  Next year!  Carl's had his chances, he's run great since those two disastrous finishes, he just hasn't been able to get the job done because Jimmy's been better.  And of course, that 33rd and 29th were not thunderclaps from the sky, they were the result of mistakes by Carl (Talladega) and, perhaps, poor work under the hood by the garage (Lowe's).  Engine failures and terrible bump drafting techniques are part of the sport, and the driver who makes the best decisions under the gun and the garage or pit crew who do likewise are the ones who'll win time and again.  And in recent years, that's been Knaus/Johnson.  If you make bad decisions under great pressure, you don't deserve to win.

Just my two cents.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 10:04 am

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Mikey - As I am sure most people are aware, I don't really like the current chase set up since it basically nullifies everything a driver does for the first 26 races. I don't want to see NASCAR implement this mulligan idea. Right now Jimmie is way up in the points, and likely has the championship wrapped up. That is perfectly fine with me, just like it used to be fine that if a driver dominated most of the season, he could coast to the championship, until NASCAR messed that up. Using your system, Carl Edwards would have the point lead right now, and to be honest, that doesn't ring true to me. Jimmie has been on a tear, Carl, not so much. Carl shouldn't be leading the pionts right now.

Just my opinion. I know we won't go back to the old system, but don't keep making the current system worse. It started off with 10 drivers, and the points reset by position. Now the points are reset based on wins, which totally kills the old system that rewarded consistancy. I know NASCAR changed it to make winning during the first 26 races more important, which they should, but they could have combined the old an new chase formats. Reset by finish after the first 26 giving a 5-10 point difference, then award the bonus points. Also, keep the number of chasers at 10.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2008 7:20 am

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Gator, actually, you have to use the mulligans before the last race of the season, not after making, as stated, 5 to 6 cars in contention for the title going into the last race. 

As for being a purest, I agree, but I am also a realist and realize we will never see the old points system again.  The chase is here to stay whether we like it or not.  NASCAR has tweaked it once so lets do it again.  Think about this, each team in the chase had at least 1 to 2 bad races somewhere in the first 26 races with most 3 to 4 so basically, if you had 4 bad races through 26 then that equates to around 2.5 per race rounded down to 2 which is what I am proposing.  Again, this allows for mishaps that are not the fault of the drivers.

Look at it this way,  The way JJ is running right now if Edwards and Biffle have terrible days and Bowery and Harvick a mediocor days JJ could clinch the title at Texas for all practical purposes. 

Since: Jan 9, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2008 12:24 am

Does NASCAR need Mulligans in the Chase?

Interesting idea. Couple of places for flaws though. Would you simply drop the two lowest points days after Homestead? If so, wouldn't that take a lot of the intrigue of "following the points" through the first nine weeks? I would think it would take a lot of attention away from the first few races because no one would care what the results would be since mulligans are in play.

I guess you'd say I'm a purist at heart, even though I pull for a foriegn automaker (#11 Denny Hamlin), and I would have to say the idea is fun to think about but realisticly it makes an already unfair situation (the current chase format, which rewards season ending performance over season long performance) even worse. If a team consistently performs well throughout the first 26 races but doesn't pile up victories, they are essentially punished when the chase starts. I like the old system better: a season long performance should be rewarded instead of a 10 race "hot streak".

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