Jeff Gordon has won three races this year, Matt Kenseth won twice. Both are trailing Tony Stewart in the Chase standings following his win Monday at Chicagoland.
Stewart barely made the Chase and trailed Kenseth by 68 points, Gordon by 84 following Richmond before the points reset. The reset put him 9 points behind Gordon, 6 points behind Kenseth. Now Kenseth is 17 points behind the suddenly second place Stewart while Gordon is 18 back.
A similar action happened last season temporarily when Clint Bowyer won at New Hampshire. NASCAR would then asses a penalty to the #33 car that hid the fact that Bowyer went from a bunched up tie in seventh (NASCAR says Bowyer was ceded 10th based on first half points but was tied with the other drivers when Chase started) and was suddenly second following Loudon.
Fans have questioned the Chase format saying it cheapens the first 26 races and have even questioned the events that make up the Chase’s 10 races.
After one event Gordon and Kenseth are on the verge of elimination after winning a combined 5 events and placing 14 top-10’s each, more then Stewart’s 12. They top Stewart in top-5’s as well with Gordon having 10, Kenesth having 7 and Stewart having 4. In fact Stewart’s 4 top-5’s are the tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr for the fewest among Chase drivers. Both earned top-5’s on Monday.
They may not be completely out of it but by trailing Kevin Harvick by 24 and 25 points and ranking 10th and 11th in the standings they might as well be.
The Chase was made to create a playoff atmosphere in the sport to hopefully help it compete against the NFL. The NFL has again started this year and while fans are flocking to see their teams, NASCAR is dealing with more questions about their point system, rain and penalties. (where they should assess one or if one should have been)
Hardly the way any sport would want to start their playoffs.