Sunday evening, Kevin Harvick's championship hopes came to a stunning end. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang finished just below the cutoff line, failing to reach the championship race at Phoenix. As the regular-season champion and winner of nine races, Harvick was the favorite to hoist the trophy at the end of the season. His elimination changed the storyline and prompted critical comments on social media about the playoff format.
Under the old format, which ended in 2003, drivers that accumulated the most points overall would win the Cup Series. A driver could secure the most points by winning races and performing consistently, which Matt Kenseth did in the final season by reaching Victory Lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and then accumulating 25 top-10 finishes. He earned more points than Ryan Newman, who won eight races but failed to finish several others due to crashes.
The new system, however, sends 16 drivers to the playoffs based on wins and points. They then compete in a four-round playoff featuring 10 races, with the field decreasing in size until only four remain. The best driver may not necessarily reach the championship round if they don't perform well or their car doesn't meet expectations during the elimination races, which happened on Sunday with Harvick.
I'm good woth it. Jeff would have 7, Kevin 4. And none for the brothers Busch.— LivingInTheCorn (@LivingInTheCorn) November 1, 2020
I know F1 isn't everyone's cup of tea, but imagine if Lewis Hamilton didn't win the title in 2020?— Paul Gornowski (@PGornowski) November 1, 2020
Is the old style of championship best? Many fans expressed this opinion after watching Harvick fall short of the final four. They said that he deserves to win the trophy after dominating all season long. Although some people also wondered how this "what if" scenario would affect other drivers from years past, such as Jeff Gordon and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.prevnext
Let's go back to the original style Nascar points system. This stages/chase format sucks, it's a total joke. Who ever heard of having multiple checkered flags in one race, it's freakin pathetic. BTW if we did, Kevin Harvick would be the 2020 Nascar Champion.— Shawn Retell (@shawn_retell) November 2, 2020
Ironically with @NASCAR changing the format in an attempt to make it more exciting for the fans they're actually critically hurting the sport.
Kevin Harvick with 9 wins— Rob (@_ROB_111) November 2, 2020
Regular season champion
Most points gained in the season@MonsterEnergy I believe has really hurt the sport
The NASCAR playoff format has undergone sizable changes since it first began in 2004. Now 16 drivers are eligible for the "Chase" and fight against elimination during the respective rounds. Many fans support this style, but there are several others that are strongly opposed. They continued voicing this opinion on Sunday after watching Harvick miss the cutoff.prevnext
So Kevin Harvick led NASCAR in Wins, Top5s, Top10s, and laps led for the year but won't win the title because of their stupid playoff format. This is why I don't watch it anymore. #NASCARPlayoffs #NASCAR #stupid— Nate Shipman (@NateSnAZ) November 2, 2020
This format is exactly what NASCAR is becoming, a gimmick. Never had any argument over who the real Champ was until this format was put in place. I'm a Kyle Busch fan and a Kevin Harvick "hater" and still say this format is insultingly bad. #GetTheWWEOutOfNASCAR #NASCARPlayoffs https://t.co/A4SLHQ7oAF— Skyler Osborne (@FourTiresN_Fuel) November 2, 2020
When Sunday's race came to an end, many fans proclaimed that they were stunned to see Harvick on the outside looking in. They had followed him all season long with the expectation that he would be in the final four and competing for the trophy. The playoffs did not play out as they expected, prompting several critical comments about NASCAR and the current format.prevnext
Doesn't it just make sense to have the season champion automatically put through to the Championship 4, or an expanded Championship 5 if NASCAR want to keep the format? It does seem an injustice that Kevin Harvick isn't in there.— James Hislop (@JJHislop) November 2, 2020
The points system is flawed. If you download the nascar app, go look at it. Click on the top five in points. Harvick in fifth. It shows all the top 5, 10, stage wins of each drivers. They rigged it from the start.— Christy Waters (@CWaters4SHR) November 3, 2020
Winning the regular-season championship provides entertainment for the fans and adds a nice trophy to the racing team's case. However, it does not guarantee a spot in the championship race. There are many fans that want to see this changed and made that opinion clear on Sunday.prevnext
#4Fan4Life I’m disappointed that I won’t see you get a championship , while I’m at the race. That doesn’t mean we can’t still win the race. Let’s remind everyone who @KevinHarvick, the closer is. We need the Busch light 🍎 back. Then let’s win the championship in 2021! 🏁🏁🏁— Christy Waters (@CWaters4SHR) November 3, 2020
What a last lap effort last night. it was funny when you dumped Kyle
But go win Phoenix cause I know harvick will win Phoenix
Easy pick— Minihyper (@Minihyper4) November 2, 2020
Harvick can't hold the trophy at the end of the championship race, but he can still go out and add a 10th win. Fans reacted to Sunday's surprising elimination by saying that it's time for the driver to go out and show everyone who is the best in the sport. They proclaimed that he would still dominate and lead the field to the checkered flag.prevnext
Sorry Harvick. 9 wins should qualify for Cup run. Perhaps, the driver with the most wins should be in the last 4? Great year, even so. Future Hall of Famer.— O'Murphy (@OMurphy12) November 2, 2020
Format sucks. Doesn’t reward success all year long. Let’s mediocre teams that haven’t performed all year get in.— C. Melanson (@Cmelanson13) November 1, 2020
Harvick was the best driver in NASCAR all season long, a fact that led many fans to believe that he would represent Stewart-Haas in the championship race. However, he finished below the cutoff line and sparked irritation among racing fans. They responded by blasting the format and saying that subpar teams had replaced Harvick in the final four.prevnext
Harvick had more wins, more top 5's, more top 10's, and no DNF's than any other driver in the field. This format doesn't reward consistency, it rewards with by luck. Great job nascar. That why you have less viewers— Dave Lipinsky (@davelipinsky) November 2, 2020
Exactly what you wanted right @NASCAR? Big controversy of the best team all season not able to race for championship and golden Chase is in. Marketing team must be in love.— Brandon Tramper (@Tramper21) November 1, 2020
There were several NASCAR fans criticizing the sport's sanctioning body after watching the playoff race. Some said that the finish was "created by NASCAR" in order to help Elliott reach the championship race. Others said that Harvick deserves a better end to the season due to his consistency.prev