The White Zone: The Chase has run its course

“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading…” and I’m here to say that the Chase has run it’s course and it’s time NASCAR do away with it.

Now right off the bat, I know this might be a tad hypocritical of me to say given I once wrote an article admonishing fans for still hating the Chase. I’ve abandonded that point of view and now don’t look upon the Chase as favorably.

There is probably nothing more polarizing in the world of NASCAR today than the Chase. Since it’s inception in the 2004 Nextel Cup season, it’s been a source of constant angst that’s divided the fanbase of the sport for a number of reasons.

The original Chase was less of a “playoff” like in stick and ball sports and more of a 10-race “miniseason.” In it’s first season, Kurt Busch recovered from literally losing a wheel to win the championship by a margin of eight points over Jimmie Johnson, then a record for the closest points finish in NASCAR history.

As time went on, more and more changes made it more and more artificial and conveluted.

In 2014, NASCAR implemented the elimination format style of the Chase. This was more like a “playoff” with eliminations and rounds, rather than it being a miniseason.

This was the format that took the cake in artificiallity. It ensures that no matter what happens, four drivers will always vie for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

They went a step further this year and added the same format to the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series.

For me, it came to a head today.

On the final restart of the Ford EcoBoost 300, Cole Whitt, who opted not to pit and assumed the lead on 30-lap old tires, spun his tires and cost Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier a chance at winning the XFINITY Championship.

While it was a dumb move on his part, it was the reaction that I don’t agree with and what led to this column.

There was a lot of people chastizing him for determining the outcome of the championship the way it occured.

My take on that is this: Whitt has every right to be there. This is racing! Just because Jones was competing for the title didn’t mean Whitt was obligated to move out of the way for him.

Just because he had no chance of winning the race – by the way, would you tell me if my Tennessee Volunteers will play in the Sugar Bowl this season while you’re looking in your crystal ball – doesn’t mean he doesn’t get to be there. We harp on other drivers when they decide to lay back and not go for the win, yet criticize Whitt for doing exactly that.


But it was this one tweet in particular from Jeff Gluck of USA Today that led to this column.

The part that caught my eye, and led to this column, was suggesting that maybe NASCAR should’ve stepped in and told Cole Whitt he couldn’t restart up front so he wouldn’t interfere with the championship fight. (I’ll come back to this in a moment)

Now to be fair, he did issue a retraction of that statement in a later tweet.

So Jeff, if you’re reading this, I’m not directing my ire at you. I just used your earlier tweet for reference.

I hate to play the hypothetical game, but let’s say hypothetically NASCAR did step in and tell Whitt, who, even on worn out tires, was leading the race, to take a hike and let championship contender Sadler, Jones or Allgaier in first. If that happened, well, let’s just say I hope Mike Bagley, Pete Pistone, Jim Noble, Chocolate Myers, Dave Moody and anyone else at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio would still has vacation days to burn, because they would not want to be present when those people call in on Monday.

Fans would be irate, and rightly so, at NASCAR explicitly manipulating the outcome of a race. It would instantly validate every last claim of manipulating the outcome of races that has ever been levied against the people that run NASCAR.

So what does this have to do with my original thesis? It’s my proof that the Chase has done more harm to the sport than its done good and it’s time we put it in the vault labelled “Good on paper, but poorly executed idea” along with the Car of Tomorrow.

My plane is about to take off so I must get going.

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

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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