What would life be like with a V8 Chase?

Speedcafe.com

Monday 16th November, 2009 - 1:27pm

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The start of Race 21 at Phillip Island

The start of Race 21 at Phillip Island

So as we wander across to the West for the BigPond 300 at Barbagallo Raceway, Jamie Whincup holds a 122-point break over Will Davison in the championship fight.

By no means is it all over, but it would take a major, major upset for the HRT ace to claw back the ground and steal the title in Sydney.

After all, Whincup has led the title chase right from the end of Race 1 in Adelaide – I’d be pretty shocked if he doesn’t become a back-to-back V8 Supercar champion.

But it has got me wondering again.

Previous readers of my musings in other publications will recall a while ago I pieced together a story for Auto Action looking at the effect that a proposed NASCAR-style ‘Chase’ would have on previous V8 Supercar championships.

Under the basis that the top 10 drivers in the championship after Bathurst are eligible and each scores 10 bonus points for every race win they have had to that point in the year, I bashed some numbers and came up with some interesting results.

Some added weight to the argument for the system, a handful went completely against it!

I’ve been waiting to apply the system and see what it would do to the 2009 title chase post-Bathurst. And the results mirror the year in AFL football.

Think of Jamie Whincup as St Kilda.

The dominant force in the home and away season, virtually untouched for victories and head and shoulders clear at the top of the ladder all year.

Think of Garth Tander as Geelong.

A previous champion who has learned the art of piecing together a full season at championship-winning level. He’s won a bit this year – perhaps not to the same degree as previous years – but he’s put himself in the top four on the ladder with some good management of situations and picking his battles all season.

Come Grand Final day, the best team of the season is toppled by the best team on the day that has left its run to the money end of the year. Which therefore, in the minds of virtually everyone, makes them the best team of the season.

Is it fair?

Yep, it’s the format of finals and the stage where only the biggest and best step up and deliver their brilliant performances. The Australian sporting public understands the concept of finals from its fascination with football of all codes.

So could we manage to understand that – with the ‘Finals’ system applied to the current V8 Supercar title chase – Tander has outscored everyone over the last four races to the tune of nearly 100 points and would be leading by 58 points over Whincup with Davison another 69 points behind in third?

Essentially, the points spread would be similar to what we have with Whincup and Davison, but it would include Tander and completely change the order!

Rick Kelly, who hasn’t won a race all season and only scored two podiums all season that have come in the ‘Finals’, springs up to fourth but would be 158 points behind Tander – just over a full race win down.

It makes for interesting reading as we all cross our fingers that the championship goes down to the wire in the final race in Sydney – and without the word ‘mathematically’ being used too much in the previews.

On an aside, the stats point to the title not being over just yet given how badly Barbagallo has proven to be a bogey circuit for Whincup and TeamVodafone.

The team has never won a race at the circuit – the only on the 2009 calendar bar Sydney – where the Roland Dane-led squad has never won before.

Oh, and Whincup’s qualifying average is dreadful at Barbagallo. In five appearances in ‘the West’ it sits at 19.6 and only improves to 17.3 if you count the last three years with Triple Eight.

Last year he qualified 22nd but was able to claw his way back through to get on the podium by the end of the three races.

But stats and records are made to be broken. I’d be shocked if J-Dub doesn’t right some of those Barbagallo wrongs this weekend …

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