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NASCAR great Waltrip says Chase format lacks excitement

Former NASCAR star says format lacks excitement

Jimmie Johnson does a victory lap after winning the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Richmond, Va., last month. Johnson is in position to become one of three drivers to win three straight Cup titles.

Jimmie Johnson does a victory lap after winning the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Richmond, Va., last month. Johnson is in position to become one of three drivers to win three straight Cup titles.

Darrell Waltrip is no fan of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format.

“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” the three-time Cup champion said in a telephone interview. “I know why they do it. They’re trying to create some excitement to finish the year off with, something that can keep fans entertained when football season starts. But I don’t think that it’s fair.”

Waltrip, now an analyst for Fox, said the problems he sees are that the 10-race Chase is too long and that the 12 drivers who qualify for the stock car postseason should have a separate points system to make things more interesting.

“Once we get in the 10-race Chase, they use the same points system that they used to get to that point,” Waltrip said. “And we know for a fact that in three, four races you have several guys who were already eliminated. They need their own point system.

“I would shorten the Chase up. It’s just too long and lets somebody get too far ahead. I would shorten it up and make it a little more intense and change the points structure so that you’re never out of it and you’ve got to be on your toes all the way to the last race.”

If Waltrip was in charge of NASCAR, how long would the Chase be?

“I think it should be five (races),” he said. “I love to watch NCAA basketball. Tournament time. One bad game, buddy, you’re done, go home. If you’re going to have it and you’re going to insist on doing it that way, I would make it as intense and as exciting and as nail-biting as I possibly could. And, unless I’m missing something, I don’t see it.”

Waltrip, who got the nickname “Jaws” for his outspoken ways during his driving career, said he doesn’t believe many NASCAR fans are really into the Chase format.

“The Chase is only exciting to those of us that cover it,” he said. “I don’t hear (the fans) talking about it. There’s no excitement. Once you run Richmond, once you know who’s in (the Chase), it’s back to business as usual. There’s nothing exciting about that.”

Heading into Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson appears well on the way to joining Waltrip and Cale Yarborough as the only drivers to win three straight Cup titles.

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