NASCAR’s Chase system has had great success over the last few years. It has seen Kevin Harvick win the title after winning numerous races, and just this year, Kyle Busch earned his redemption after missing the first 11 races, and went on to win the championship in brilliant fashion.
Now, one of Ontario’s biggest short track racing series, OSCAAR Racing, has adopted a similar championship format, titled the “Race for the Cup” in each of its racing series.
So let’s break down the changes.
The OSCAAR Super Late Model division’s nine-race season will be broken down into a six-race regular season, followed by a three-race Race for the Cup. The top-five drivers will be a guaranteed a spot to race for the championship, so long as they’ve run every race. In addition, the winner of the Chase for the Colours race at Peterborough Speedway is locked in, regardless of their points position.
The six drivers will have their points reset equally for each race in the playoff system. The lowest top-six driver in points following the third last race at Sauble Speedway will be eliminated from championship contention. The next two lowest remaining drivers after the race at Peterborough will also be eliminated.
The final three drivers will race for the championship at Peterborough’s 24th annual Autumn Colours Classic. The top finishing driver of the three will take home the title.
The OSCAAR Modifieds, Midgets and Pro Midgets all have similar formats, which you can read more about here: http://www.onpitroad.com/?p=23165
Simply put, the 2016 race season will be a huge transition period for OSCAAR drivers, team members, officials, fans and sponsors alike. The big question going into this season will be how the fans react to the new format. Will they love it, or will they hate it?
Most of NASCAR’s fans have quickly embraced a playoff-based championship format, but I think OSCAAR is going to have a much more difficult time enticing their fans.
To many racing enthusiasts, short track racing is what you grow up on. It’s what you start watching from an early age, and for drivers, it’s often where you get your first taste of the competition and action. It’s a traditional style of racing, and now changing to a non-traditional championship, will certainly leave a bad taste in the mouths of some fans.
None of OSCAAR Racing’s divisions run more than 14 races in its season with the Super Late Models running a nine-race schedule. All of the divisions are already the definition a short sprint season, which begs the question of whether a format like this is really all that necessary.
Some of those within the series and close followers of the series deem the system necessary as the past two seasons, each division has seen the champion only having to show up at the final event to clinch the race, without finishing position matter. Though with this format, despite possible flaws, it’s going to create a “must-win” mentality among drivers, forcing them to race harder than they might have before. The competition level going into the final few races will be incredible, just as a similar format has done for NASCAR. The likelihood of not knowing who the champion will be in each division going into the final few laps of the season finale will be high. It will create tension on the track, and keep the fans on the edge of their seats until the checkered flag flies at the Autumn Colours Classic.
You can debate whether this championship format is good or bad all you want, but until the season gets underway in May, and the champion is crowned in October, it might be best for all fans to reserve judgment. For now, let’s just enjoy some classic short track racing and watch these guys beat and bang for a shot at the coveted championship.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions of this article reflect that of each writer, and not necessarily the management and other contributors of OnPitRoad.com.