Racing fans constantly take part in debates about whether the NASCAR Cup Series playoff format or old style of championship race reigns supreme. Brad Keselowski has now weighed in and provided a different scenario that he would prefer to see.
The driver-owner of RFK Racing outlined his format on Twitter in response to a conversation about how drivers with fewer wins and laps led occasionally won the title. He set up a scenario where the wins would play a significant role in the battle for the championship, as well as the season finale at Phoenix or wherever NASCAR sends it.
“I’ve always felt like the championship should go to the driver/team with the most wins and the last race results [should be] the tie breaker [shrug emoji],” Keselowski tweeted on Saturday, November 20. “This would give best of both worlds, a whole season that matters and strong potential for a ‘game 7’ moment.”
Keselowski’s proposed format would not have disrupted the 2021 season. Kyle Larson won the most races (10), led the most laps (2,581), and won the most stages (18). He also took the checkered flag in the season-ending championship race at Phoenix after holding off Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott.
NASCAR Fans Had Mixed Reactions to Keselowski’s Idea
As expected, there were several people that weighed in after Keselowski proposed his format. Some said on Twitter that they like his idea and that they would take it over the current style of playoffs. Others strongly disagreed and proclaimed that this format would make the rest of the season meaningless if one driver won 10 races in the first 12 weeks.
One person on Twitter actually posed another interesting idea. They said that they would like to see NASCAR award bonus points for victories in three or four of the biggest races of the season, including the season finale.
In this scenario, the winner of these races would walk away with double points. This could put extra pressure on drivers to perform well during the Crown Jewel races such as the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, and the Southern 500 while bringing extra attention to the prestigious races.
The Playoff Format Has Undergone Significant Changes
The Cup Series has featured the playoffs since the start of the 2004 season, the year that Kurt Busch won the trophy. This format has undergone significant changes with the introduction of stages and elimination rounds. The number of drivers has also changed over the years.
The early forms of the playoffs only featured 10 drivers that battled for points during the final 10 races of the season. This number changed in 2007 when NASCAR brought 12 drivers into the playoffs — the top 10 drivers and two wild cards. Jimmie Johnson won the title while adding another 10 victories to his career total.
The format changed once again in 2014 with the introduction of the elimination rounds. The playoff field expanded to 16 drivers, who battled for spots in each round of the playoffs. Those that moved on through the rounds had their points reset to 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000.
This format has largely remained in the Cup Series since Kevin Harvick’s championship victory in 2014. Though the sanctioning body introduced stages for the 2017 season, which added more playoff points to the season-long totals and added even more strategy to each event.