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Watch: EVERY NASCAR Playoff Format Ranked Worst to Best

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Joshua Lipowski

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Ahh, the Playoffs. Truly one of the most controversial aspects of modern NASCAR. They have changed a lot in their nearly 20 years of existence in the sport, now it is time to rank all of the Playoff formats. What did our very own John Rizzo have to say about every Playoff format NASCAR has ever used?

  • 2014-2016 – “The Chase Grid”: This Championship format was referred to John Rizzo as “Hog-wild”. This was the beginning of the “Win and You’re in” system, and Playoff points did not exist yet. Therefore, the system was not particularly popular with fans, and it did not always work as intended. Ryan Newman made the final 4 in 2014 despite not winning a race.
  • 2004-2006 – “The (OG) Chase”: This was a simple system where the top 10 drivers after 26 races had their points reset in five-point increments from 10th to 1st. It may not emphasize winning, but it does force drivers to still be consistent throughout the season. The Championships won under this format were pretty well deserved.
  • 2007-2010 – “Expanded Chase”: Two minor changes were made to this format. The field was expanded from 10 to 12 drivers, and seeding now depended on how many wins you got in the regular season. The expansion was controversial, but at least it put more emphasis on wins plus the Champions were deserving. Although they were all the same driver.
  • 2017-Present – “Playoffs”: It’s similar to the aforementioned “Chase Grid”, but it has some massive changes. While complicated, the addition of Playoff points means that regular season performance still matters. However, the “Winner Take All” Championship race is not popular amongst some fans. It’s not perfect by any means, but, it’s entertaining and more fair than SOME other formats. John has some suggestions for this current format.
  • 2011-2013 – “Wild Card Chase”: John calls this a “Happy Medium” between the previous two Chase formats. The points format was simplified, and the format included the top-10 drivers in points and the drivers with the most wins from 11th-20th in points. However, “Spingate” is what tainted this system beyond repair.

How would you rank the different Playoff formats? There are plenty of reasons to love or hate each format, but they are not universally loved by NASCAR fans.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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