Wheeler: Playoff Format Will Shock the World
On the New Format
¿Our playoffs¿and that¿s what I call them¿will shock the world. While we don¿t have 300-pound linemen or 100-mph pitchers, we do have 10 wild-eyed drivers loaded with 800 horsepower chasing $5 million at 10 diverse speedways.
¿This is the real ¿Survivor¿ show with the participants running almost a football field a second. Boiling the championship down to 10 races will result in great drama and that¿s the essence of sport.
¿What¿ll make these playoffs great is the American public is going to see some legendary racing. And we¿re doing it when NASCAR is in head-to-head competition with the NFL and Major League Baseball.¿
Benefit to the Region
¿The Panthers¿ run through the NFL Playoffs really caught the imagination of this entire region and rightfully so. People who don¿t normally follow football got caught up in the excitement.
¿Having a NASCAR Playoff event here in Charlotte is huge. I hope it generates at least the same level of excitement. This is home to 90 percent of the NASCAR teams, so this is their home playoff game. I think the new Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will create that Monday morning buzz around the water coolers and through the media outlets.
¿I hope people in the region appreciate that we are one of only 10 cities hosting a playoff event. It will be big for this region.¿
On the Competition
"What will produce the big drama and interest will be the elite 10 in a froth of competition. Guys like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart going at it with almost perpetual fame at stake against the long-living misery of second place.
¿Great wars are won by epic battles. Perhaps the most epic will be here for our UAW-GM Quality 500 since it falls right in the middle of the 10-race Chase and Charlotte is Grand Central for the NASCAR teams. This race could very well be the championship¿s D-Day. Since the race is at night, the track will be fast and produce a distinct second groove because of the cooler temperatures.
¿One of the major elements being overlooked in this new playoff format is the role of the other 33 drivers who are out of contention for the gold ring, but challenging the elite 10 for race victories They will be battling for their share of the points fund, many for their jobs and certainly a lot of pride.
¿Drivers like Jeremy Mayfield and Jamie McMurray will be driving so deep into the corners, they¿ll need oxygen. Car owners will be telling these guys to bring back the steering wheel or the trophy. They will show the elite no quarter until a few major incidents force NASCAR to wrestle with a major factor in these playoffs¿officiating. The sanctioning body will have to react to the conduct of 33 drivers who have nothing to lose and 10 drivers going for a championship. Will they park someone for rough driving? Will they avoid pit road controversies? Will they make the tough, tough calls?
¿The competition could get almost too fierce, if that is possible. If that happens¿and I think it will¿we will be looking at the kind of finishes the NFL had last season in the playoffs which produced sellout crowds, close games and great television ratings.¿
Tickets for the Oct. 16 UAW-GM Quality 500 start at just $29 and can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS.
Click on the links below for charts comparing the Jan. 4 NFL Playoff game at Charlotte¿s Bank of America Stadium and the Oct. 16 UAW-GM Quality 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway.