Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
RELATED: Kenseth suspended for two races by NASCAR " Drivers react Matt Kenseth was issued a two-race suspension from NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville Speedway . Logano was leading the race at the time when Kenseth, who was several laps down, got into the 22 of Logano on Lap 454 and both cars went into the wall. Kenseth was also placed on probation for a six-month period. The friction between the drivers began two weeks earlier at Kansas Speedway when Kenseth was leading the second race of the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with five laps to go when Logano made contact with him that led to Kenseth spinning out. Logano went on to win the race in a green-white-checkered finish but Kenseth was none too pleased about the ending. "Based upon our extensive review, we have concluded that the No. 20 car driver, who is no longer in the Chase, intentionally wrecked the No. 22 car driver, a Chase-eligible competitor who was leading the race at the time," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "The No. 20 car was nine laps down, and eliminated the No. 22 car's opportunity to continue to compete in the race. "Additionally, we factored aspects of safety into our decision, and also the fact that the new Chase elimination format puts a premium on each and every race. These actions have no place in NASCAR." A series of appeals were heard on Thursday and Kenseth's two-race suspension was upheld. His probation period was decreased from six months to through December 31, 2015. This is a rare penalty in the sport. In fact, the closest type of penalty seen like it came in 2011 when Kyle Busch was parked for XFINITY and Sprint Cup races at Texas in November of that year. Busch was parked for retaliating and wrecking title contender Ron Hornaday Jr . in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the 1.5-mile track. Busch was also fined $50,000 and placed on probation for the remainder of the season. Here is a look at several major penalties issued by NASCAR in recent years. Michael Waltrip Racing " Richmond International Raceway , September 2013 Violation: Section 12-4: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. MWR's three teams in the Sprint Cup Series (the No. 15, 55, 56) were penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points , respectively. These point penalties were assessed following the season's 26th regular-season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . That resulted in Martin Truex Jr . being eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the playoff field. NASCAR also fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager and spotter for the No. 55 car, for violating Section 12-4. The three crew chiefs -- Brian Pattie (No. 15), Scott Miller (No. 55) and Chad Johnston (No. 56) -- were all placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Penalty: Loss of 50 Cup Driver Points for each MWR team.* Denny Hamlin , No. 11 " Indianapolis Motor Speedway , July 2014 Violation: Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 20-2.1: Car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and Section 20-3.4.5: A rear firewall, including any removable panels or access doors, constructed using magnetic sheet steel a minimum of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick), must be located between the trunk area and the driver’s compartment and must be welded in place. Block-off plates/covers used in rear firewalls in place of blowers, oil coolers, etc., must be constructed of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick) magnetic sheet steel. Block-off plates/covers must be installed with positive fasteners and sealed to prevent air leakage. Carbon fiber or aluminum block-off plates/covers will not be permitted. Penalty: Loss of 75 Cup Driver Points * Carl Long , No. 146 " Lowe’s Motor Speedway, May 2009 Violation : Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 12-4-I: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules: Section 20-5.4A: Engine exceeded the maximum engine size of 358.000 cubic inch displacement. Penalty : Loss of 200 Cup Driver Points . Ryan Newman , No. 31 " Auto Club Speedway , March 2015 Violations: Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. 20.16: Wheels and Tires: A. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted. 20.16.2: Tires : F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted. Section 184.108.40.206.1 lists P5 Penalty Violation examples that could include but are not limited to: A. Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the event. Penalty: Loss of 50 Cup Driver Points * Matt Kenseth , No. 20 " Kansas Speedway, April 2013 Violation : Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 12-4J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to the NASCAR Rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event. Section 20-5.5.3E.: Only solid magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted. Connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight. Penalty: Loss of 50 Cup Driver Points .* Jeremy Mayfield, No. 12 " Talladega Superspeedway , April 2000 Violation: Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 8-8: Fuel used by a Competitor that does not meet NASCAR specifications. Section 12-4-AA: Use of altered fuel or fuel other than the official fuel at the Event. Penalty: Loss of 151 Cup Driver points . Johnny Sauter , No. 70 " Lowe's Motor Speedway, May 2008 Violation: Section 20-3.1.3A: Wing mounting locations were not as specified by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Driver points . Appealed: NASCAR Penalty upheld. Scott Riggs , No. 66 " Lowe's Motor Speedway, May 2008 Violation: Section 20-3.1.3A: Wing mounting locations were not as specified by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Owner points . Appealed: NASCAR Penalty upheld. Brian Vickers , No. 83 " Martinsville Speedway , October 2008 Violation: Section 12-4-Q: Section 20-2.1D: Exterior sheet metal body parts did not meet the specified minimum thickness. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Driver points . Martin Truex Jr ., No. 1 " Daytona International Speedway , July 2008 Violation: Section 12-4-Q: Section 20-3.8A: Roof of the car does not conform to the specifications of the NASCAR Rule Book. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Driver points . Travis Kvapil , No. 43 " Pocono Raceway , June 2010 Violation: Section 12-1: Section 12-4-J: Section 20-10.7J: Unapproved modification to valve stem hardware. Penalty: 150 Cup Driver Points Clint Bowyer , No. 15 " September 2010, New Hampshire Motor Speedway Violation: Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 12-4-J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR Rules: Section 20-3: The car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis, does not meet the NASCAR-approved specifications. Penalty: 150 Cup Driver Points *These penalties are ranked according to their severity in proportion to the points system used at that time. NASCAR moved to a one-point-per-position format in 2011.
MORE: READ PART 1 HERE The Build-up "That's what we've been wanting is being able to draft up and race these guys. I think the things they've done and changes they've made will make a difference. I think you'll see a better race, a closer race." -- Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR teleconference, Oct. 11, 2000. Bobby Labonte was steaming toward his first premier series championship, heading into Talladega with a commanding 252-point lead -- more than any driver could earn in one race under the former Latford points system -- over Jeff Burton. Dale Earnhardt ranked third, 258 points off the top with Dale Jarrett further back in fourth, 388 points in arrears. Dunlap: I think he saw those upcoming races as a real chance for him to make a run. ... Earnhardt was so focused on getting that eighth championship and, I think, at that moment that late in the season he had kind of felt it slipping away. Bobby Labonte: At the time where we were in points , it was risk over reward and if you were the chaser, it was easier to make those risks. If you're being chased, this is one of those places where you bide your time and you wait toward the end of it more. Dale Jarrett (driver, Robert Yates Racing No. 88 Ford): It was such an unknown. I won't say that I dreaded the race because I looked forward to racing there. We had been very successful at Talladega, but with the unknown and being in the midst of a championship battle was something that we were a little bit leery of in making the right choices and the right calls, so, as always, you're on edge racing at Talladega. In addition to the ratcheted-up championship pressure, teams and drivers also faced polarizing new aerodynamics rules that altered the looks of the cars and the type of racing they produced. McReynolds: The aero package was interesting. NASCAR had been searching all throughout the early part of 2000. ... In the summer of that year they took about 10 or 12 of us down to Daytona to do a test, and it was really an open sheet of paper. We went down there and they told us to bring all types of spoiler material and aluminum. I don't know that they really knew what they wanted to try and we just started trying things. Helton: We'd kind of eased up to it, but back in those days, we would kind of settle in on what we would use at the Daytona 500 by the Talladega race and use it there so that everybody would get used to it or we'd find any hidden ghosts and goblins in it before we unveiled it at the Daytona 500 . Bobby Labonte: I think we were there for the test and it was like some people liked it and some people didn't. If I went from 18th to first on the last lap, I loved it. I didn't like it quite as good at the end of the day. Childress: As good as I can remember back, we had the package with the wicker on the spoiler and the wicker across the roof. It was a whole new package and the cars really drafted, really raced. Nemechek: We called that the old taxi cab strip and they put a lot of drag in the car and turbulated a lot of air. … Once the air hit that thing on the roof, there were some very unique things going on with that, and I think between our two teams we were able to understand that quicker than most. Kenny Wallace (driver, Andy Petree Racing No. 55 Chevrolet): Andy Petree was by far, in my opinion, the best at getting the most out of his race cars on the superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega. He was the king of aerodynamics and getting the car low to the ground. Petree: I loved it. In my opinion, it was one of the best packages that we ever had for restrictor-plate racing because it kept the cars obviously in a big pack, but it made a big, huge hole in the air and it took a lot more power to push that aero package, so the car had more power, more response and I thought it was one of the best packages they ever had. Bobby Labonte: Back then, we didn't run a pack of 43 cars in a full pack like you do today. I don't think we circled it as much as these guys do, say in the last five or 10 years, but it was somewhere you knew that just whatever happened, you could be running in the top five one lap and then 18th the next lap. Hailey: There was a tremendous amount of unknown with the new wicker bill across the top of the car. We had no idea what we were in for. A new aero package had drivers and crew chiefs wondering how their respective cars would react in traffic. This No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo had no problem adjusting. The vehicle that carried Dale Earnhardt to his final NASCAR victory still resides in the team museum. Though the aerodynamic devices were intended to slow and bunch up the cars, the speeds shown in early practices were deemed too fast. That led to NASCAR officials making a change to the size of the restrictor-plate openings -- from 1 inch to 15/16ths -- just before final practice in an effort to further slow the cars. The modification added an extra layer of intrigue to what was already shaping up to be a true wild-card race. Petree: They had a restrictor-plate size, if I recall correctly, it was a one-inch plate that we started with, which made quite a bit of power. So we sat on the pole with the 33 car (Nemechek) and that one-inch plate changed everything as far as restrictor-plate motors. Helton: I don't think it would be called unprecedented, but it wasn't something we did every superspeedway race, but we also watched very closely the top speeds, and so if I recall correctly, it seems to me like this package during practice produced some speeds that had crept up and the aero package around the car was still such that the lift-off speed was critical to us. We shrunk the plate in the middle of that event to get the speeds in a better position for the event. Skinner: The aero platform, the whole rules thing with the engine package that they brought, for some reason everything was perfect on our car that weekend and we were extremely fast. And then NASCAR decided to put a smaller plate on, and I went up into the NASCAR truck and raised hell. It didn't take Mike Helton long to come out of his chair and explain to me that NASCAR had been there long before I was and it will be there long after I'm not. His job is to make sure that we don't put cars in the grandstands and keep our fans safe, and he basically just shut me right up and they did what they wanted to do anyway. Hailey: At that time, I was actually the dyno operator in the shop, so it was my job to run the engines on the dyno. We did a lot of testing before each race because we always had the idea, 'They may go a little smaller restrictor plate or they may go a little larger.' So we had a little background. We knew kind of what to do if they changed restrictor plates as far as the engine, as far as the tuning and everything, so it wasn't a big surprise that we had to change it. We were ready.
Crash that broke his leg and foot, journey back to racing SHOP: Busch gear Nov. 22: Busch wins first Sprint Cup Series championship In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completes his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. " Read the full story " Final 2015 standings Nov. 22: Busch wins title with victory at Homestead-Miami Driver Kyle Busch caps an amazing comeback, winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 to hold off fellow Championship 4 contenders Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . " Read the full story " Complete race results Aug. 9: Busch breaks into top 30 in drivers points standings A runner-up finish at Watkins Glen pushed Kyle Busch into 30th place in the Sprint Cup points standings, a requirement of eligibility for him for the Chase. With four race wins under his belt, he must remain in the top 30 to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Full race results July 11: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Kentucky A second win helps Kyle Busch 's chances of cracking the top 30 in points , the second condition he must meet to make the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup . " Read the full story " Full race results June 28: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Needing victory to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup , Kyle Busch got the victory at Sonoma , a track that had been a concern as he continues to recover because the road course is so physically demanding. " Read the full story " Full race results June 13: Kyle Busch wins XFINITY race at Michigan Kyle Busch goes to Victory Lane in his first race back in the XFINITY Series after breaking his leg and left foot at Daytona. " Read the full story " Full race results May 24: Kyle Busch completes Coca-Cola 600 , finishes 11th Kyle Busch makes his Sprint Cup points race debut for the season in the Coca-Cola 600 , climbing to second place before fuel strategy led to an 11th-place finish. " Read the full story May 18: Kyle, Samantha Busch welcome first baby Driver Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, had their first child, a boy, at 9:45 p.m. May 18. Brexton Locke Busch is his name. " Read the full story May 16: Busch finishes sixth in All-Star race After a pleasing top-10 run in his first race back from leg and foot injuries, Kyle Busch looks forward to running in the Coca-Cola 600 " Read the full story May 13: Kyle Busch granted Chase waiver NASCAR has granted Kyle Busch a waiver for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Find out what he has to do to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Official NASCAR release " Cain: Making Chase will cap comeback May 12: Kyle Busch announces return After missing 11 events to open the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season following his injury at Daytona, Kyle Busch has set his return for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. " Read the full story " Drivers react to news of Busch's return " Herman Unplugged: Reaction to Busch's return " Busch's return a hot topic at Dover test May 9: Jones' promising run crashes at Kansas Making his first Sprint Cup start filling in for the injured Kyle Busch , Erik Jones was working on a great run at Kansas until he found the wall late in the race. " Read the full story April 16: Accident leads Busch to become unexpected safety advocate NASCAR.com's Holly Cain tells the story of how Kyle Busch 's wreck at Daytona has changed the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into a saftey advocate for the sport. Busch talks about how impressed he was of the breadth and depth of detailed information that has been gathered from his accident. " Read the full story April 16: Busch family bonds, finds strength in recovery With a baby on the way, the Busch family discuss how they've worked as a team to recover from Kyle's injury while prepping to expand their family. The parents-to-be explain that it hasn't been easy, but they're counting their blessings. " Read the full story April 15: Kyle Busch analyzes tape of his wreck Kyle Busch holds his first press conference after his crash at Daytona and uses video to break down his thought process as the wreck unfolded. His doctors are pleased with his progress, but he has no timeline for returning to driving. " Read the full story " Herman Unplugged: Busch should sit out 2015 April 15: Kyle Busch responds to Keselowski blog During his first press conference after his Daytona crash, Kyle Busch also addressed his long-running feud with fellow Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski . " Watch the video " More on Keselowski's blog April 15: Kyle Busch , wife discuss crash, impending parenthood In an interview with Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC, Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha discussed the driver's accident at Daytona in February " Read the full story March 20: Kyle Busch takes next step in recovery Kyle Busch posts a video on Facebook of himself moving around a bit with the aid of a walker, along with encouragement from his wife, Samantha, and their dog. " Read the full story March 17: KBM drivers keep in touch Daniel Suarez says his team owner's advice is invaluable. And Justin Boston reports Busch is 'recovering quickly.' " Read the full story March 14: Kurt Busch hopes brother doesn't rush return Kurt Busch says, 'You can't rush the healing of bones and surgeries.' And teammate Denny Hamlin says Kyle Busch is staying engaged with the No. 18 team despite being sidelined. " Read the full story March 11: Kyle Busch , Samantha, visit KBM Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, take a field trip to Kyle Busch Motorsports and tell the team, 'Progress is going well.' " Read the full story March 10: Busch gets walking boots Kyle Busch gets soft casts removed from both legs and moves up to walking boots, which Samantha Busch dubs 'Terminator boots' in a Twitter photo. " Read the full story March 2: Subs announced for No. 54 XFINITY Toyota Denny Hamlin , Erik Jones and Boris Said are tapped as substitute drivers for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 NASCAR XFINITY Series Toyota. "Get Well Kyle" stickers adorn the No. 54. " Read the full story Feb. 27: Kyle Busch heads home after second surgery After a second surgery to treat his injuries, Kyle Busch was in a Charlotte hospital for observation for two days before being cleared to go home. The No. 18 racing team put a "Get well Kyle" on the rear bumper of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Atlanta race. " Read the full story Feb. 25: Kyle Busch has successful surgery on left foot Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Kyle Busch underwent a successful surgery on his left foot at a Charlotte hospital. " Read the full story Feb. 24: Kyle Busch leaves Florida hospital Kyle Busch was released from Halifax Health Medical Center. He boarded a plane on a stretcher and was transferred to a North Carolina hospital for further treatment of multiple leg injuries. " Read the full story Feb. 24: David Ragan to sub for Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing announces that David Ragan will sub for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota for several weeks, starting at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Feb. 24: ISC working on 'significant plan' for safer barriers In the wake of Kyle Busch 's severe crash and resulting injuries during the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway , International Speedway Corporation announces a plan to expand its use of impact-diffusing barriers at its 12 tracks. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Joe Gibbs says Busch's surgery went well Team owner Joe Gibbs gives an update on Kyle Busch 's status after surgery and says he is 'resting comfortably.' Doctors reported that things went well with surgery on Busch's lower right leg. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Samantha Busch gives update from hospital Samantha Busch posts a selfie with Kyle Busch from his hospital bed on Twitter with a tweet saying, "Getting ready to watch the Daytona 500 ! Cheering on our 18 boys!" " Read the full story Feb. 21: Drivers wish Kyle Busch well after hard hit Kyle Busch is taken to the hospital by ambulance after a big wreck during the XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . Fellow drivers sent well-wishes via Twitter. " Read the full story Feb. 21: Hard hit sidelines Kyle Busch for Daytona 500 A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race caused NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch to miss the Daytona 500 after suffering injuries to his right leg and left foot a day before the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway . " Read the full story
Jeff Gordon recounts his initial reaction when Brian France and Mike Helton told him about the creation of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Erik Jones builds on his points lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a win at Texas Motor Speedway.
The importance of Jimmie's Chase dismissal, Junior's close call at Dover RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race If you're a regular reader of Herman Unplugged, you know that clairvoyant Kenny Wallace called for Kevin Harvick to win in "walk-off" fashion once again at Dover. He was on the record early and this wasn't Phoenix, where Harvick has a habit of making victories look routine. He'd never won at the Monster Mile … until Sunday. Now? "I really feel that Harvick's gonna win Charlotte and lock himself in again," Herman said. "When you look at the last two races at Loudon and Dover, two completely different race tracks, this is speed we haven't seen since the Jimmie Johnson glory days. He has utterly dominated these last two races, so I don't know why that would stop going into Charlotte. "The only thing that's gonna stop him is a blown tire, wreck or parts failure." NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Speaking of that, a faulty inexpensive axle seal felled Jimmie Johnson at Dover and dropped him from the Chase. That's a bad beat… HERMAN: "Some of the smallest items in the history of building a car have cost such big deals. An axle seal is a complete fluke. I don't think I've ever seen one go out of a passenger car much less a Sprint Cup car. One would think that with all the engineering and all the machinery at Hendrick, they're probably making their own axle seals, so it was probably the rubber that they used that was a freak deal. Who in the hell would have ever thought it would be an axle seal?" NI: Pretty riveting back and forth battle between McMurray and Junior at the end of Dover race. How important was that for the sport with Junior grabbing the final playoff spot in this next round? HERMAN: "It was bigger than big, no doubt. I was asked on the prerace show: 'Will Dale Jr. make it into the Contender Round?' And I said no because I thought Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick would outrun him and they did. But what we did not see was Jimmie Johnson falling out of the race. Nine times out of 10, Dale Jr. is gonna outrun Jamie McMurray , right? These were two drivers that really wanted it bad and this incredible drama built and at the end it looks like Jamie is gonna do it. Even Dale Jr. said it was that caution. The caution came out and it changes our sport moving forward. If that last caution does not come out, 70% of our fan base remains depressed and sad. That was pretty incredible to see that last late race restart." NI: The other remaining Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon , did what he needed to do as well but he's winless on the season. Do you have any problem if a winless driver claims the championship under this format like Ryan Newman nearly did a year ago? HERMAN: "I have never had a problem with someone scoring more points than the other person. Special things happen when things change sometimes. Every time you look up at the end of the year now, Ryan Newman is there without coming close to winning a race. If Jeff Gordon continues to run consistent and keeps getting better and buying himself more time, we still got seven races to go, and maybe that team can find him some speed. But how do you deny somebody scoring more points than the other person? I know people feel like you have to win but throughout our whole history as a sport it's never been based on wins, it's been based on points ." NI: Logano would be leading Harvick by eight points under the old system with Junior in third 76 points back. Do you prefer one system over the other when it comes to crowning a champion? HERMAN: "I like this system ; I don't like one race determining the champion and I'll tell you why. In baseball and football, we deal with human beings. In auto racing, we deal with parts and pieces that are made by machinery. To determine who is the greatest all year long on one race is brutal. That's the way I look at it. Last year, Joey Logano came down pit road and the jackman had the worst stop of his life and it took Joey out. I don't think he could have outrun Harvick anyway but it took him out of contending. I would like to see this system stay but give it something to add longevity in the end. Maybe we go 3-3-3 and let the last three determine a champion instead of one damn race." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Jeff Gordon said he thought they were joking. A 10-race, season-ending playoff to determine the champion? Yeah, right. Turns out, NASCAR officials weren't kidding. "The one thing that I will never forget is the moment that I was standing on the dock in Key West, Florida, on a NASCAR boat trip with (NASCAR Chairman and CEO) Brian France and (Vice Chairman) Mike Helton and they told me what they were planning on doing with the Chase format and I laughed in their faces because I thought that was the most hilarious thing I have ever heard of," Gordon said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway , which will be renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for Sunday's race. "Because I thought it was a joke, then I quickly realized that was not a joke and I was pulling the laughs back into my mouth. I was like, 'Are you serious?' And they said, 'Yes.' Of course I didn't like it. I felt like point system was just fine for me." Little wonder. Before the arrival of the Chase for the Sprint Cup format, Gordon had won four championships, and the Hendrick Motorsports driver narrowly missed a fifth by just 37 points . A season-long battle to determine the championship suited his driving style, and his team, just fine. Since the inception of the format, Gordon has failed to bring home the series' biggest trophy. He'll try to remedy that situation next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the Ford EcoBoost 400 and the championship-determining race. The 44-year-old, who will retire from full-time competition at season's end, earned one of the four available spots in the finale by virtue of his win at Martinsville (Virginia) Speedway last month. "There is no doubt in my mind that it suited my driving style," Gordon said of the pre-2004 format. "The reason I was able to win at so many different tracks was the consistency that our team had and that I had at all the different tracks. That paid off when you were trying to win the championship under a 36-race schedule. "I didn't want to see it come down to that final 10, because some of those final 10 were not tracks that suited me. It actually suited others pretty well and so I felt like it was not benefiting me. So of course I wish it hadn't changed." Would he have won more championships had the format remained unchanged? Gordon isn't sure, but he says it's not something on which he dwells. Different formats create different circumstances, which often lead to drivers making different decisions. "Everybody races differently under each point system and does what it takes," he said. "So I don't know if we can all sit here and speculate and talk about things and wonder what could have been if the old point system would have stayed the same." His success didn't entirely disappear with the arrival of the Chase – 29 of his 93 career victories have come since 2004. But others have taken advantage of the move, and none more so than Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson , who has won six titles under the format. Kurt Busch (2004), Tony Stewart ('05, '11), Brad Keselowski ('12) and reigning champ Kevin Harvick have won championships under the Chase setup, as well. "When I look at the sport from 10,000 feet I love it and think it is exciting," Gordon said. "And with this new (elimination) format, I think it is even better. "I will continue to support it, always have, even when it hasn't suited me. I think that I try and not be that selfish and think of what is best for the sport. At the end of the day, what is best for the sport is best for me, best for the team, best for all teams." Of course, that doesn't mean there wouldn't be an extra sense of satisfaction should he win a fifth title, a final one under a format that seemed to suit others more than the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet. "That would be the ultimate, most poetic justice ever," he said.
Technology advancement demands more driver precision Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR's new pit-road officiating technology received a much-anticipated preseason shakedown Saturday night in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition. The audition gave NASCAR officials more experience with the system , but teams, drivers and pit crews also got a sample of how it operated in race conditions without points on the line. PHOTOS: Inside the new pit road technology The system passed its preliminary test without major issue Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, with no noticeable glitches and no dramatic uptick in violations. It marked the next step in its rollout, heading toward its full-fledged debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' biggest race, the Feb. 22 Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) Saturday night's outcome was tempered somewhat by the uniqueness of the invitational race, with only a 75-lap distance as a sample size. The Sprint Unlimited also featured a smaller field of 25 vs. the traditional 43, making wholesale trips to pit road a less crowded proposition. A rash of caution periods and red flags for crashes also took the prospects of testing the system with green-flag pit stops en masse out of the equation. Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team managed to avoid not only the carnage of wrecks, but also the watchful eye of the new pit road officiating process. Jason Ratcliff, Kenseth's crew chief, said an offseason walk-through of the technology at the NASCAR Research and Development Center helped prime teams for the road ahead. "It's the first race out," Ratcliff said after the Victory Lane celebration. "We didn't make many competitive pit stops tonight. But all in all, I think our teams did well. I think they're as prepared as anyone is going to be. We'll see that Thursday and then Sunday again. But our pit crew coaches and our pit crew department has put a lot of effort, as well as every individual guy, understanding how much more precise that system's going to be compared to what it's been in the past." MORE: New pit road technology at the 'tip of the spear' By race's end, NASCAR's stat sheet showed 11 pit-road infractions in the 75-lap race. Six of those violations fell under the heading of entering pit road while it was closed, a category that isn't monitored by the new technology. Three teams were docked for having too many crewmembers over the wall, and one each for crewmembers over the wall too soon or a driver passing through more than three pit boxes on entry or exit. From a driver's perspective, the technology advancement demands more precision as well, but early on, defending Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick was among those leaving their approach unaltered. "That doesn't really change anything for me," said Harvick, a three-time Unlimited winner who wound up 11th Saturday night. "I think as you look at the things that happen, on and off pit road you have to just do what you normally do. Driving in and out of three boxes in or out, or the guys jumping over the wall is going to be the hardest thing. There is no hiding from the new pit road penalties." The new system uses 45 high-definition cameras at every Sprint Cup track, recording and feeding video of every pit stall to a trackside hauler, where eight NASCAR officials monitor and rule on pit stops at a double-time rate of roughly eight seconds per car. The process, rigorously checked during the late stages of 2014 and with file footage in the offseason, was also in place for testing during the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship opener, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Saturday marked the system's first real-time application under the NASCAR umbrella. While Unlimited runner-up Martin Truex Jr. said he was cognizant of the technology as he made his first pit stops of the season, the system didn't play much factor for him because of the 2.5-mile track's spacious pit stalls. When the Sprint Cup schedule shifts to a tighter layout, though, he said the technology has the potential to be more exacting. "Honestly, I was more concerned before I got in the car than when I came down pit road," Truex said. "Everything felt exactly the same to me. There are pretty big pit boxes here, so pretty easy to not drive through more than three. I pretty much took my normal entry, and at the last minute was like, 'OK, that was only one box,' so it's not really something to worry about here, I don't think. There's other places it'll come into play. I think the biggest deal is just the pit crew guys getting used to it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Bruce: History shows that points will matter in 2014, beyond