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NASCAR’s scoring system has undergone a multitude of changes since the sport was introduced in 1948. In the current format, Playoffs are held in the latter part of the season that decides entries to the final race of the season, called the Championship 4 race. But this format has not found too many fans, especially Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr sat down for the final podcast of the season with Brian France. France has served as the NASCAR CEO earlier. They spoke about the current format.

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Dale said, “But the only thing I’ve kinda struggled with how expanded the playoff feeled. And it’s happened at the Clash as well. Like the eligibility for getting into the Clash changed the identity of the race. When the chase was 10 drivers, it was like damn it’s hard, it’s hard to get into. It’s 16 now. That’s half the field of the guys that run every single week.”

“We’ve seen other Series, other sports, expand their playoff fields as well. Because the more people you have involved in the playoff, the more entities that are plugged in and interested, sponsors that are part of it. I feel like that was kind of the push for the Clash. You had partners coming in and going ‘why aren’t we in this race? Why can’t we be in this race?’,” he said. 

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But he reasoned, “So I understand the pressure there. I never loved the fact that the chase field grew because I felt like it really made it difficult to get into, and something about it being that difficult when it was limited to being 10 or 12. Something about it being harder made it prestigious or powerful.”

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Dale Jr pointed out a very valid point. The fact that it was so difficult to make it through was what made it so precious to drivers. It was like “squeezing water from a stone”. But the expanded playoff system has changed that altogether, which in some ways diminishes the worth of it all.

Dale Earnhardt Jr is totally against the winner-takes-all-final race

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Dale Jr isn’t the first to criticize the Playoffs system of NASCAR. Denny Hamlin has too expressed his dissatisfaction with the format in depth, explaining what possible changes can be brought in.

Dale Jr also picks out his problems with the final race being the deciding factor for the Cup. He said, “The other thing I’ve struggled with – if we like the three-race round. It’s compelling, it could be argued that it’s relatively fair, everybody’s got the same opportunity. It’s 3 races, you can kinda dig yourself out of a hole.”

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He then explained, “But I’ve always kinda struggled with the final race being all or nothing. The reason why I struggle with that because the venue may suit a team or driver. Obviously, you would never consider running it on a road course or a superspeedway because that certainly suits some drivers more than others and you try to have it a neutral facility if you will.”

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“But I always had a hard time with saying, ‘okay it’ll all boil down to this one day where you gotta get it right and if you don’t you’re not a champion this year.’ Even though you’ve really got this amazing body of work.”

“You could still have that guy that wins one race be the champion and the guy that won 6 not even make the final round. So I wish we could figure out a way to make that Championship moment not an all-or-nothing 3-hour affair,” said Dale Jr.

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For those against the current format, this part too has been an issue for long. They believe that making the final race a decider takes away from someone who might have consistently performed all season, and rewards one single race-based performance. What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments!