Could the intensity - and fairness - of the Countdown be improved?
In my last blog I congratulated Robert Hight and the John Force Racing team for winning the Funny Car championship. Now I would like to provide some ideas and/or suggestions as to how the NHRA might be able to improve the way the Countdown plays out and perhaps make it more balanced for most of the competitors.
I'm really hoping – and I've read some articles written on it – that the NHRA will make some changes similar to what was done in NASCAR in the Chase, by making race wins more important as far as your position in the Countdown is concerned.
Any team that shows up on a Friday for a racing weekend wants to do nothing but win the race, and that is the primary goal for any team. So, when the points are reset for the Countdown at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, I really would like to see the NHRA put more importance on the number of wins a driver has earned and reward him/her with bonus points per the number of wins.
Winning is what we all strive for. And I really believe that, if the NHRA rewards a driver who had the most wins in the “regular” season, we'll see more and more teams stick to what they're doing (aiming to win each race) instead of going off and testing halfway through the “regular” season knowing that they're going to get into the Countdown anyway, with just a few points separating the top 10.
I can tell you first hand that it would have definitely changed our outlook on the way that we that we entered the Countdown. And, I do know that PRO (Professional Racers Owners Organization) has already recommended this to the NHRA.
Something else I'd like the NHRA to consider is an idea our NAPA crew chief, Ed “Ace” McCulloch, had for a different format for the Countdown. I think this is something that the NHRA should really look at very hard: Make it eight teams that are in the Countdown. Those eight teams, once the Countdown starts, would run on their own side of the eliminations bracket on Sunday. Those eight teams in the Countdown also would be the last four pairs of every qualifying session on Friday and Saturday. Track and weather conditions can change dramatically between the first pair and the last pair, so this would provide a more level playing field for the Countdown teams during qualifying. And, having the Countdown cars qualify next to each other would provide the fans more drama in the final moments of the qualifying rounds.
On the other side of the eliminations ladder would be the rest of the competitors. What would happen is the winner of the Countdown side then would race the winner of the other side in the final round. That way, you have an increased chance for a team that's not in the Countdown to actually get into the final.
Also, the fans would see Countdown cars racing Countdown cars on Sunday until the final round.
Let us know what you think.