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Edwards has reservations about Chase changes

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jan 29 2014 03:33:12 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 29 2014 03:33:12 PM CST

Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards is not a proponent of the new Chase for the Cup championship format.

NASCAR is expected to officially announce a new setup on Thursday that expands the Chase to 16 qualifiers and whittles the field through eliminations to a winner-take-all finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

Edwards, who drives for Roush Fenway Racing and has never won a Sprint Cup title, said Wednesday that he foresees issues down the road.

"My simple preference would just be to determine the champion over the course of the whole season," Edwards said during the Sprint NASCAR media tour. "The way I understand it, all they want to do is crown a champion that wins races, that drives his guts out and it puts on a really exciting show for everyone. I'm all for that.

"I'd just hate to see some guy have a flat tire or a blown engine or something in a three-race stretch and be knocked out, then come back and dominate at Homestead. I think that would be tough."

The Chase essentially will become a playoff under the proposal laid out by NASCAR, with 16 drivers qualifying for the field, up from 12 under the current format. A driver who wins a race during the regular season automatically secures a Chase spot.

After the Chase begins, the field is trimmed by four cars after the third, sixth and ninth events. That ultimately would leave four drivers fighting it out for the championship in the season finale.

"It's tough, because to me, we have to decide, 'What are we going to do?'" Edwards said. "Are we going to be the sport that we were for 50 years, or are we going to really change this thing and make it different? I think they are prepared to change it and make it different.

"The result of that could be really spectacular. We just have to make sure that we do it the right way. I guess what NASCAR is doing right now is they have floated this thing out there to get it working in everyone's minds and give them suggestions. I'm sure whatever they come up with will be pretty well thought out. I'm just curious to see exactly what it is."

Fellow driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is more receptive to the idea.

"Let's change it all. I'm all for it," Earnhardt said. "A lot of times we change things for the fans, and I think the drivers are going to enjoy some of this stuff as much as the fans are.

"When you look at other forms of sport, there's an elimination factor in the playoffs that we don't have. We, as drivers, don't feel the intensity of an elimination factor being over our shoulders every race. I feel like we've had it easy in that regard where we just tally up points. Coming down to Homestead with four guys (vying for the title), that's crazy -- but it's exciting."