Leading Off

Sprint Cup needs to retool title format

Brad Keselowski, one of the most talented yet despised drivers in NASCAR’S Sprint Cup Series, has driven his No. 2 Ford to a season-high six victories and 16 top-five finishes. But he’s out of the running for the championship in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jeff Gordon, the veteran driver of the No. 24 Chevy who has won four series titles, can’t win his fifth despite four wins and 14 top-five finishes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., the Cup’s most popular driver in the No. 88 Chevy, has four wins and 12 top-five finishes, but he’s out of the title run, too.

Yet, Ryan Newman, who hasn’t won a race since the 2013 Brickyard 400 and has only four top-five finishes this season in his No. 31 Chevy, and Denny Hamlin, with one win and seven top-five efforts in his No. 11 Toyota, will join Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick in a four-driver battle for the championship.

How’s that right? It’s not.

It’s understandable that NASCAR wants to crown its Sprint Cup champion in the final race of the season instead of a driver clinching the title three weeks prior. But if it’s not crowning the best driver, why bother?

How can a driver with six wins and 16 top-five finishes bow to a possible series champion with one or no wins and a few top-five efforts?

NASCAR intended to make its Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship more exciting in 2014 by eliminating 12 of the top 16 drivers in the final races of the season. But with drivers falling out due to no fault of their own, all it’s caused is chaos, controversy and postrace fights.

Crowning a winless champion could be an embarrassment. NASCAR needs to go back in the garage, get under the hood and fix this mess.

Victor Contreras


Today’s poll

Thursday’s poll results

How much have the Kings improved?

▪ They’re much better, more fun to watch: 42%

▪ It’s too soon to tell: 44%

▪ They haven’t, they’re still the Kings: 14%

Total votes: 106