The hypothetical pre-Homestead 2014 points, without this year’s Chase rules

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As legendary Formula One commentator Murray Walker once said of that sport, “IF is a very long word in Formula One; in fact, IF is F1 spelled backwards.”

There’s no way to get “if” out of NASCAR, but sometimes it never hurts to present “what-if” scenarios for the sake of argument or discussion.

And given some of the fan angst over who’s in this year’s final four in the new-for-2014 Chase format, it would be interesting to at least present a what-if scenario if NASCAR was using a different set of rules and regulations for the Chase from the past compared to what has been introduced for 2014.

Via Jayski, one of the best aggregators of NASCAR content, the site has produced two unofficial points standings that could have produced two wildly different title scenarios.

The first is the unofficial Chase points using 2013 Chase rules. As you’ll see below, two of the final four are the same as this year’s, but the points gaps are much larger:

Unofficial Chase Standings using 2013 Sprint Cup Chase rules:
[after Phoenix, race 35 of 36]
1) #22-Joey Logano [5 wins] 2368
2) #4-Kevin Harvick [4 wins] 2342, -29
3) #2-Brad Keselowski [6 wins], 2320, -48
4) #24-Jeff Gordon [4 wins] 2312, -56
5) #31-Ryan Newman, 2311, -57
6) #20-Matt Kenseth, 2296, -72
7) #99-Carl Edwards [2 wins] 2278, -90
8) #18-Kyle Busch [1 win] 2277, -91
9) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. [4 wins], 2271, -97
10) #16-Greg Biffle [1 win], 2244, -124
11) #48-Jimmie Johnson [4 wins], 2239, -129
12) #5-Kasey Kahne [1 win], 2199, -169

In that case, Logano would only need to finish 29th or better to clinch the championship on Sunday. If Harvick won, he’d get 43 points and if Logano was 30th, he’d get 14 points. Excluding bonus points, that would go to a tie – since both would have five wins, it would then go to the next tiebreaker, the number of runner-up finishes. Harvick has six runners-up while Logano has had zero, so Harvick would win the title.

The next scenario if there was no Chase at all, but the current points system in place. And that produces this:

Unofficial Top 25 in 2014 Sprint Cup Driver Points Standings (not the Chase):
[after Phoenix, race 35 of 36]
(using current points system, but not the Chase rules, unofficial)
1) #24-Jeff Gordon(EC), 1217
2) #22-Joey Logano(C2), 1188, -29
3) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.(EC), 1145, -72
4) #2-Brad Keselowski(EC), 1138, -79
5) #4-Kevin Harvick(C4), 1124, -93
6) #20-Matt Kenseth(EC), 1093, -124
7) #31-Ryan Newman(C3), 1093, -124
8) #99-Carl Edwards(EC), 1050, -167
9) #42-Kyle Larson, 1049, -168
10) #48-Jimmie Johnson(EC), 1032, -185
11) #16-Greg Biffle(EC), 997, -220
12) #1-Jamie McMurray, 975, -242
13) #18-Kyle Busch(EC), 964, -253
14) #11-Denny Hamlin(C1), 949, -268 (missed a race)
15) #15-Clint Bowyer, 943, -274

Gordon, who would then lead, would then be in a near identical clinch situation as Logano in the prior “what-if,” needing only 29th or better to secure that elusive fifth career title. With Logano having the win tiebreaker, he’d take that on a tie because a Gordon win would guarantee Gordon would win the title.

Hamlin, given his season, has benefited even more than Newman under this new format – considering Newman is the primary underdog having gone winless, and with only four top-five finishes all season.

So here’s your situation, then. NASCAR has guaranteed at least four drivers will have a shot at the title on Sunday, even though the only driver who would have been in a position under these two systems and is again on Sunday is Logano, who’s both won a high number of races and been very consistent over the whole of the season.

NASCAR has also guaranteed that there won’t need to be the “if so-and-so only needs to finish 29th or better” narrative as has been the case in some Chases in recent years.

NASCAR may have redefined what it means to be a champion, but it has definitely provided more drivers with an opportunity to do so than under either of these two prior formats.

It just depends on your which driver you’re a fan of as to whether you like it or not.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.