Five times in the eight-year history of the Chase, the driver who would have been crowned champion under the traditional (cumulative) points system differed from the driver who took the title in the Chase system, where the points are adjusted for Chase qualifiers prior to the final 10 races.
In 2004, Kurt Busch captured the Chase title, but under the old system, Gordon would have won his fifth championship by 47 points over Jimmie Johnson (Busch would have placed fourth, 247 points behind).
In 2007, Gordon earned a modern-era record 30 top-10 finishes in 36 races, which would have amounted to a 353-point victory over Johnson in the final standings using the traditional points system. But Johnson's four victories during the Chase gave him the title by 77 points.
In 2008, despite a 100-point penalty during the season, Carl Edwards, who led the series with nine victories, would have taken the traditional points title by 16 points. Instead, Johnson captured his third consecutive Chase title by 69 points over Edwards.
In 2010, Kevin Harvick was the only driver to average a top 10 finish (8.7) on the season, scoring three wins and 16 top fives, while leading the series with 26 top 10s. He accrued 5,274 total points, 285 more than Johnson. But in the Chase, it was Johnson again, as he claimed his fifth straight title, 39 points ahead of Denny Hamlin and 41 in front of Harvick.
In 2011, Edwards was the bridesmaid again. While he tied Tony Stewart atop the final Chase standings, Stewart was crowned champion by virtue of having five victories (all during the Chase) to just his one. For the season, Edwards had a series-high 19 top fives and 26 top 10s to earn 78 more points overall than Harvick.
In 2005, either format would have crowned Tony Stewart champion. In 2006, Johnson would have won under both formats, though by a slim four points in the traditional system, compared to 56 in the Chase. Johnson would prevail under either format in 2009 as well.
(Chase for the Championship)
NOTE: Drivers who did not make the Chase denoted in bold