Hot 20 – Thank God for the Chase, as a dozen contenders and the also-rans return to Charlotte

Heading back to Charlotte, when you look at the Chase and compare it to the situation if they used the season-long standings to determine a champion, it is easy to see why we have a playoff format. It has all to do with generating interest. We want to know who is the best, but today we want the journey to at least be entertaining. Originally, the World Series was established to bring the two top teams from each league together, teams that had never played an inning against one another, to determine which was best. It was the only way to properly determine bragging rights.

At least it provided some uncertainty as to which team ruled supreme, something to provide a little excitement for the fans at the end of the season. Imagine, a year before the modern World Series came into being. Imagine watching the National League pennant race of 1902 as Pittsburgh claimed the crown by 27.5 games over Brooklyn. They held a 4.5-game lead on May 9th, and never looked back. It was no doubt one hell of an exciting season if one happened to be a fan of the Pirates. It must have been a lot like watching Richard Petty in 1967 when he won 27 races and the rest were content with smelling his exhaust. Instead of drama, it was more a comedy for those who had to share the same tracks as the King that season.

As for the Pirates, they won again in 1903, albeit by just 6.5 games over the New York Giants. This time the American League champion Boston Americans, the future Red Sox, challenged them and won. That upset some sensibilities, enough so that the Giants, who won the NL in 1904, refused to play the repeating AL champion Americans. That was then. Now we have 10 out of 30 teams playing extra games to challenge for the title in the fall. If there was more weight placed on determining which team was best, and less on the drama, no more than four would be playing at this time of year. Such is not the case.

Sixteen started the Chase with some hope. That is now down to 12 as they pull into Charlotte. If we relied strictly on the season tally to award the trophy, it would already be down to Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Just two points would be separating them. Both could have sat out Saturday night’s race and still have been one-two in the standings come Monday. Hence, the Chase.

Just ask Martin Truex Jr. if he likes this format. Ask six-time champ Jimmie Johnson. If it is of any consolation, the 12 best on the season remain in the Chase.

1. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 3000 PTS (947 Season Pts)
Official standings are set by the best first round finish, and Brad’s best was fourth…twice.

2. KEVIN HARVICK – 3000 PTS (945)
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I’m guessing that tire did not get any stronger.

3. JOEY LOGANO – 3000 PTS (888)
If you upset someone, phone and talk about it. Maybe 2015 would have turned out differently.

4. KYLE BUSCH – 3000 PTS (872)
Recently was seen in the White House. Hell, I didn’t even realize he was running.

5. DENNY HAMLIN – 3000 PTS (867)
Kicking ass in the final year of a contract is always a great idea.

6. KURT BUSCH – 3000 PTS (852)
Big Cubs fan hoping his dreams and those of his favorite club both come together this year.

7. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 3000 PTS (851)
If not for the Chase, his hot streak would be meaningless in terms of the championship.

8. CARL EDWARDS – 3000 PTS (844)
Carl Edwards Jr. is a Cub reliever. No relation.

9. CHASE ELLIOTT – 3000 PTS (787)
New driver in that ole car and yet the same kind of results. That is how you follow a legend.

10. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 3000 PT (785)
This time, it was a pit crew member who got caught speeding.

11. MATT KENSETH – 3000 PTS (781)
Three Top Tens, along with a pair of Top Fives, worked well in the opening round.

12. AUSTIN DILLON – 3000 PTS (764)
Ganassi misfortune worked to the advantage of the Childress grandson.

Cars too technical, sponsors so demanding, emotions too P.C…time to be just an owner.

14. KYLE LARSON – 2073 PTS
Chip Ganassi had two cars in the Chase.

Today, Ganassi has the same number in the Chase as Jack Roush.

It was fun while it lasted.

If Best of the Rest was a thing, it would belong to Kasey. Not much consolation, I know.

Took batting practice with the Kansas City Royals, and looked like he belonged…in a race car.

Best damn name in sports.

Learning, gaining experience, but really did not need that blow-out to teach him anything new.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.

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  1. Have you found anyone without a vested interest who truly likes the Chase? Will this be the 4th week in a row that will have record low Chase ratings? I’ve been a fan since 1962 and I guess they count me as a viewer since my TV is on. However, I’m not watching it except I look up to see who wrecked. I suspect I’m not the only one.

  2. Your the only one who likes the chase. The drivers say they like it because otherwise Nascar will punish them. Look at the stands, nobody showed up for last weeks race even though they could have watched two races. tv ratings for these last 3 cup races are terrible, setting all time lows. So you still thing thank god for the chase. real race fans are tuning out because of this joke of a chase. this is not like the world series at all. in the world series you get teams that have won a lot all year long, in the chase you get guys like Ryan Newman who never win going for a championship. This year you have Austin Dillon who has not won a cup race during his whole 3 year cup career going for the championship, what a joke. The fans in the stands and the tv ratings tell the truth, fans DO NOT like the chase, period.


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