Has the Chase prevented a good points battle?

TUMS Fast Relief 500Jimmy Johnson gets in one of those groves that you just can’t define. Whether it’s luck, tracks he’s good at or good ole’ fashioned cheating the driver of the Lowe’s Chevrolet is easily on his way to his fourth straight Championship, a feat that I have a tough time uncomprehending when you think of how guys like Petty, Earnhardt and Gordon won their titles.

Don’t let the points lie to you or believe what they are saying on tv. Jimmy Johnson simply needs to start the next four races and little else and the title is all his. Currently Johnson leads teammate Mark Martin by 118 points. If you divide 118 by 4 races you get an average of 29.5 points per race¬† Martin would have to make up just to tie Johnson. For Jeff Gordon it’s 37.5, Tony Stewart the number jumps to 48.

A driver picks up 185 points for winning the race, 5 for leading a single lap and 5 for leading the most laps. If Mark Martin was to win the final four races and lead the most laps he’d gander 780 points. Jimmy Johnson would need just 662 or a fourth place finish. Ok so fourth place finish isn’t easy in NASCAR you say. Ya maybe for someone not named Jimmy Johnson.

I got the following stats off Jayski.com.

Since finishing 24th at Talladega in the fourth Chase race in 2006, Johnson has accomplished the following over the last 32 chase races:
* No finish worse than 15th
* 28 Top 10s out of 32 races
* 22 Top 5s
* 20 Podium Finishes [top 3]
* 11 Wins

Sure Johnson’s 118 point lead may not match the 149 he had this time last season but it’s pretty close. Last year Johnson had the championship wrapped up after Phoenix and needed little to claim his third title.

So I was wondering. Is NASCAR better for the Chase? A driver with a 118 point lead with 4 to go or perhaps the old points system.

Currently Johnson leads Tony Stewart who was the first half leader by 192 points.

Following the 26th race of the season Stewart would have amassed 3806 points on the year, Johnson 3534. . A difference of 272, take out the 192 points Johnson leads Stewart by and it’s Stewart leading the standings by 80 points over Johnson. (Note: Both drivers had 3 wins following Richmond)

As for Jeff Gordon he had 3627 points following the race at Richmond, 179 points behind Stewart. Factor in the current points amassed and subtract 20 from Stewart for the win bonus and his lead over Gordon shrinks to 117.

So with that being said the old system actually would have fielded us two drivers closer then the 118 points Mark Martin currently trails by. Obviously NASCAR can’t change it’s system midway though the season (though they do make up the rules as they go so who knows) and with the belief that the word playoffs create excitement things don’t figure to change. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t I just found it interesting that with the old system things would be closer.

Can you imagine the excitement over “can Jimmy Johnson run down Tony Stewart for his fourth straight title?” over “can anyone keep up with Jimmy Johnson who seems to be on cruise control again?”

I don’t know about the rest of you but I certainly liked the first headline better.