NASCAR To Offer First-Round Bye In The Chase?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR Champion Brad Keselowski recently suggested that NASCAR needs to do more to make the first 26 races of the season matter.

The NASCAR Chase is great when it comes to making wins matter, but what happens once you have already won a race? Sure, NASCAR drivers want to win more than once a season but chances are that one win will put them into the Chase. While no driver is going to say they are less hungry or competitive after winning, it’s hard to say they are as motivated as they would be if they were still trying to win and get into the Chase.

With that in mind 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski recently suggested that NASCAR needs to make the “regular season” matter more to drivers. Keselowski noted that the bonus points (three per win for the opening round of the Chase) are nice, but not enough.

"Most every driver, I think, would agree with some kind of regular-season bonus of real value. Right now you get three points for a win, which is something, don’t get me wrong, but it only counts for the first round.I think clearly the sport is lacking some motivation once you’ve won a race. I don’t think there’s any question that most of the competitors in the sport feel like that is not advantageous for a product we’re trying to put on and have floated some ideas to level that back out that maybe some people will like and maybe some won’t. At the end of the day, it’s never a good thing to remove motivation from the field."

So is a first-round bye for the driver who is the leader in the point standings after the first 26 races the answer? Would a driver receiving a free-pass through the first round of the Chase still be motivated? Keselowski thinks the tradeoff is more than enough for NASCAR.

"I guess that comes down to the question would you rather see a dozen guys or so demotivated for 30-some races or 20-some races, or would you rather see one driver demotivated for three races? It kind of seems like a trade-off to me that maybe values the regular season more, which is of course a higher quantity of races, and devalues the first round of the playoffs. It’s just a tradeoff. The value proposition I think is worth it."

A bye from the first round of the NASCAR Chase could potentially be huge for a driver. In NASCAR anything can happen and losing an engine or getting involved in a wreck in the opening round of the Chase could derail a run to a title. Not having to worry about the opening round is a nice reward and a good way to praise the driver who is the best after the first 26 races.

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What is your take on the idea of giving a driver a bye for the first round of the NASCAR Chase? Is it something that would help the sport? Is there a better way to reward the “regular season” champion? Be sure to comment below and let us know what you think. You can also reach out to us via our various social media platforms.