CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While most of the drivers on this week’s NASCAR Media Tour seem to be in favor of the likely changes expected to be announced Thursday for the Chase for the Sprint Cup format, legendary team owner and Hall of Fame member Richard Petty isn’t as convinced.
“Another PR deal, okay,” Petty said with a laugh during Wednesday’s session with the media. “What can NASCAR do to cause a little bit more interest in the way the points standings are?”
The changes that NASCAR chairman Brian France is expected to announce during his annual state of the sport address Thursday include expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, as well as implement eliminations of four drivers each after the third, sixth and ninth races of the Chase, leaving a four-driver winner-take-all shootout for the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Petty shares the record for most NASCAR Sprint Cup championships won by a driver – seven – with the late Dale Earnhardt.
Neither of them seemed to worry too much about points systems – nor were they adversely affected by several changes to the system in their respective careers, Petty said.
“I won championships in I think five different ways that they counted the points,” Petty said. “In the long run, no matter how you cut the points, look at them and stuff, you’re pretty well going to have the best guys winning the championship.
“So it’s not going to be somebody that’s not a championship driver to win the championship. They can count it about any way they want to and still come up with probably the best (drivers) that year.”
In other words, Petty wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmie Johnson takes to the new system like a duck to water en route to a seventh Cup crown in 2014, which would tie Johnson with Petty and Earnhardt.
“It’s just something different, it’s just another change,” Petty said. “Whether it’s the right format or not, it’s the format that football and baseball are following, so NASCAR looks at it and says, ‘Wow, it’s pretty successful there, let’s give it a try here.”