2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #5 (thru January 8)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  SOUTH v MIDWEST, EAST v WEST

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

Indianapolis, IN

  • (1) Kentucky v (16) UC-Irvine/Houston Baptist
  • (8) Clemson v (9) Dayton

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Cincinnati v (13) Boise State
  • (5) Creighton v (12) Oakland

Indianapolis, IN

  • (2) Louisville v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Minnesota v (10) TCU

Sacramento, CA

  • (3) UCLA v (14) Florida-Gulf Coast
  • (6) Wichita State v (11) Miami-FL

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) West Virginia v (16) Texas Southern/Wagner
  • (8) Xavier v (9) South Carolina

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Wisconsin v (13) Texas-Arlington
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) Middle Tennessee

Tulsa, OK

  • (2) Kansas v (15) New Mexico State
  • (7) Saint Mary’s v (10) Virginia Tech

Greenville, SC

  • (3) Virginia v (14) Monmouth
  • (6) Indiana v (11) Seton Hall/California

WEST REGION (SAN JOSE, CA)

Sacramento, CA

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) Weber State
  • (8) Kansas State v (9) Northwestern

Milwaukee, WI

  • (4) Florida State v (13) Vermont
  • (5) Arizona v (12) Chattanooga

Buffalo, NY

  • (2) Villanova v (15) IPFW
  • (7) Texas Tech v (10) Rhode Island

Orlando, FL

  • (3) Duke v (14) Yale
  • (6) Oregon v (11) Michigan/Houston

MIDWEST REGION (KANSAS CITY, MO)

Greenville, SC

  • (1) North Carolina v (16) NC Central
  • (8) SMU v (9) Marquette

Orlando, FL

  • (4) Florida v (13) Ohio
  • (5) Iowa State v (12) UNC-Wilmington

Tulsa, OK

  • (2) Baylor v (15) Belmont
  • (7) Oklahoma State v (10) Wake Forest

Milwaukee, WI

  • (3) Purdue v (14) Bucknell
  • (6) Butler v (11) Arkansas

Last four byes: Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Miami-FL, Arkansas

Last four in: Michigan, Seton Hall, California, Houston

First four out: Pittsburgh, USC, Michigan State, Maryland

Next four out: VCU, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Illinois State

Four more: Tennessee, Georgia, BYU, Illinois

Every #1 Song of the 1980s – Prologue and Series 1

With the start of a new year – and to do something besides sports ratings, I was inspired by the endeavor to rate every #1 song that was #1 on my birthday.  Updating that list was an idea, but I would be adding one song – and having to listen to Toni Braxton again.  So let’s do something else – and try something bigger – an entirely arbitrary ranking of every #1 song from the 1980s.

Some ground rules:

  • The decade is 1980-1989.  Nitpicking would say the decade started in 1981.  But common usage has clearly left the barn on that front, so I don’t fight it.
  • I am sticking with the #1s on the Billboard Chart.  The issues count weeks ending, so I do the same.  The first issue is dated the week ending January 5, 1980 and so that is our starting point.
  • These are #1s.  So, there is no Bruce Springsteen or Eddie Money, but there is Billy Vera and the Beaters and Gregory Abbott.  There is a Def Leppard song, but not that one.
  • I rate using 5 categories (50 points total):
    • Does it Matter?  Cultural importance of the song – and this can be a derisive earworm sort as well.  If I’ve heard of it (having missed the first half of the decade in terms of cultural awareness), that counts.
    • Capture the Decade?  A squishy criteria, but is it characteristic of the 1980s in a meaningful way, or was it a simpering one-off?
    • Is it Any Good?  Pretty straightforward
    • Was It Any Good?  This is tough.  Given I was 2 years old at the start of the decade, my memory of the songs at the time is often nil.  But that doesn’t stop me from projecting – so this is some guesswork.  But I think I have a handle on things which – if they did not age well, at least had obvious appeal at the time.
    • Wildcard – is it kitchy?  Was the video amusing?  Basically stuff I make up.
  • I am basically adding songs each week – so I do not know what the final list will look like.

With that in mind, here is the first batch of songs from the very first week of:

1980. “Please Don’t Go” by KC and the Sunshine Band – Among the most indefensible acts of the 1970s, this was their last #1.  Despite the video looking like an outtake from The Wedding Singer, this song has basically no redeeming qualities.  At least “Shake Shake Shake” is actually fun. TOTAL SCORE: 12

1981. “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon.  Double Fantasy was released posthumously, and as is often the case with the dead – it figured that his biggest hit would come here.  This is not my favorite Lennon song.  “Woman” is a much better entry and has survived much better.  TOTAL SCORE: 25

1982: “Physical” by Olivia Newton John.  Yep, this happened.  Olivia Newton-John was famous before this for Grease and had many hits of varying quality.  The earworm quality of this song cannot (sadly) be denied and its place in the cultural library cannot be denied either.  My mother remembers this song from aerobics class, because well of course they used this song in aerobics class.  This song has not aged well at all, but it’d take a heart of stone to not at least smile.  TOTAL SCORE: 33

1983: “Maneater” by Hall and Oates.  Honestly, it will be hard for Darry Hall and John Oates to score too low on this list because of the sheer absurdity of the videos for their heyday songs.  This was no exception – Darryl Hall’s gyrating early on looks like a medical condition more than anything.  The videos made it easy to condescend back then – but really their stuff has aged better than it had any right to.  TOTAL SCORE: 36

1984: “Say, Say, Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.  This is the better of the two songs produced by the short lived bromance.  Buying your friend’s life’s work will do that. This was obviously right in the middle of Michael Jackson’s prime as the biggest pop star on earth.  I would consider it “lesser” to some of his other stuff clearly.  TOTAL SCORE: 35

1985: “Like A Virgin” by Madonna.  Of the first batch of songs here, pretty clearly the most culturally significant.  Madonna had hits before – but this was the start of where things began to escalate quickly.  A catchy song with a lot of time on a gondola.  TOTAL SCORE: 43

1986: “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie.  Nostalgia for the 1980s conveniently forgets that Richie’s crooning is all over the decade.  He has such a big hit that ABC exhumed him to perform at this year’s New Years Eve thing.  He wrote Kenny Rogers’ biggest hit.  This song is pretty typical of Richie’s solo work – the sort of thing which tearfully gets requested as a dedication and makes me puke in my mouth a little.   TOTAL SCORE: 26

1987: “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles.  This was the #1 song of 1987, and deservedly so – in that  sort of “song of a year” sort of way.  It definitely has the markers of the sort of song “everyone knew” at the time.  There was a silly dance and the song is clearly ridiculously catchy.  TOTAL SCORE: 39

1988: “Faith” by George Michael.  The #1 song of 1988, I tried to make sure not to give him extra points for his recent death.  But really, I don’t think that is a problem.  Faith may or may not be the best album of the decade – but it is among the few which still plays without requiring nostalgia.  There are lot of near perfect pop singles on the album, and “Faith” is certainly on that list.  TOTAL SCORE: 44

1989: “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison.  Like a lot of Bon Jovi – this is not something I thought at the time would actually survive.  But sure enough, it’s a staple of classic rock, has been covered numerous times, and really is the best of the “monster ballad” subgenre that came out of the decade.  Plus, it gave a terrific punchline to a favorite Chappelle’s Show bit  TOTAL SCORE: 37

SUMMARY TO DATE:

  1. “Faith” by George Michael – 44
  2. “Like A Virgin” by Madonna – 43
  3. “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles – 39
  4. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison – 37
  5. “Maneater” by Darryl Hall and John Oates – 36
  6. “Say, Say, Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson – 35
  7. “Physical” by Olivia Newton John – 33
  8. “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie – 26
  9. “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon – 25
  10. “Please Don’t Go” by KC and the Sunshine Band – 12

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #4 (thru January 1)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  EAST v WEST, SOUTH v MIDWEST

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) West Virginia v (16) UC-Irvine/Houston Baptist
  • (8) Oregon v (9) Miami-FL

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Cincinnati v (13) Nevada
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) Texas-Arlington

Tulsa, OK

  • (2) Kansas v (15) Tennessee State
  • (7) Minnesota v (10) South Carolina

Greenville, SC

  • (3) North Carolina v (14) Vermont
  • (6) Creighton v (11) Dayton

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

Indianapolis, IN

  • (1) Kentucky v (16) Texas Southern/Wagner
  • (8) Clemson v (9) TCU

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Wisconsin v (13) Lehigh
  • (5) Arizona v (12) Middle Tennessee

Indianapolis, IN

  • (2) Louisville v (15) IPFW
  • (7) Saint Mary’s v (10) Kansas State

Sacramento, CA

  • (3) UCLA v (14) Yale
  • (6) Xavier v (11) Houston/Georgia

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

Tulsa, OK

  • (1) Baylor v (16) Weber State
  • (8) SMU v (9) Marquette

Milwaukee, WI

  • (4) Florida State v (13) Oakland
  • (5) Indiana v (12) UNC-Wilmington

Buffalo, NY

  • (2) Villanova v (15) New Mexico State
  • (7) Oklahoma State v (10) Michigan

Orlando, FL

  • (3) Duke v (14) Monmouth
  • (6) Wichita State v (11) Arkansas

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

Sacramento, CA

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Texas Tech v (9) Wake Forest

Milwaukee, WI

  • (4) Purdue v (13) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (5) Virginia Tech v (12) Chattanooga

Greenville, SC

  • (2) Virginia v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Butler v (10) Northwestern

Orlando, FL

  • (3) Florida v (14) Akron
  • (6) Iowa State v (11) Rhode Island/Central Florida

Last four byes: Northwestern, Kansas State, South Carolina, Arkansas

Last four in: Houston, Rhode Island, Central Florida, Georgia

First four out: Michigan State, California, USC, Seton Hall

Next four out: VCU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Illinois

Four more: Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Illinois State

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #3 (thru December 25)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  EAST v WEST, SOUTH v MIDWEST

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) West Virginia v (16) Houston Baptist/UC-Irvine
  • (8) Michigan v (9) Virginia Tech

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Notre Dame v (13) Arkansas State
  • (5) Creighton v (12) Monmouth

Tulsa, OK

  • (2) Kansas v (15) Oakland
  • (7) South Carolina v (10) Marquette

Orlando, FL

  • (3) Duke v (14) Akron
  • (6) Wichita State v (11) Southern Cal

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

Indianapolis, IN

  • (1) Kentucky v (16) Texas Southern/Wagner
  • (8) Clemson v (9) TCU

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Wisconsin v (13) Nevada
  • (5) Florida State v (12) Middle Tennessee

Indianapolis, IN

  • (2) Louisville v (15) Cal St-Bakersfield
  • (7) Butler v (10) Arkansas

Sacramento, CA

  • (3) UCLA v (14) FL Gulf Coast
  • (6) Oklahoma State v (11) Dayton

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) Villanova v (16) North Dakota
  • (8) Wake Forest v (9) Minnesota

Orlando, FL

  • (4) Florida v (13) IPFW
  • (5) Cincinnati v (12) UNC-Wilmington

Greenville, SC

  • (2) Virginia v (15) Vermont
  • (7) Arizona v (10) Kansas State

Milwaukee, WI

  • (3) Purdue v (14) Tennessee State
  • (6) Texas Tech v (11) Texas A&M/Illinois

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

Greenville, SC

  • (1) North Carolina v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Xavier v (9) SMU

Milwaukee, WI

  • (4) Indiana v (13) Lehigh
  • (5) Iowa State v (12) Chattanooga

Sacrament, CA

  • (2) Gonzaga v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Miami-FL v (10) Northwestern

Tulsa, OK

  • (3) Baylor v (14) Yale
  • (6) Saint Mary’s v (11) Oregon/Rhode Island

Last four byes: Kansas State, Marquette, Arkansas, USC

Last four in: Oregon, Texas A&M, Illinois, Rhode Island

First four out: Houston, Seton Hall, Providence, Ohio State

Next four out: Davidson, California, Central Florida, Georgetown

Four more: Temple, Pittsburgh, Auburn, Georgia

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #2 (thru December 22)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  EAST v WEST, SOUTH v MIDWEST

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) West Virginia v (16) Houston Baptist/UC-Irvine
  • (8) Michigan v (9) Virginia Tech

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Notre Dame v (13) Nevada
  • (5) Creighton v (12) Monmouth

Sacramento, CA

  • (2) Gonzaga v (15) Cal St-Bakersfield
  • (7) South Carolina v (10) Kansas State

Orlando, FL

  • (3) Duke v (14) FL-Gulf Coast
  • (6) Oklahoma State v (11) Providence

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

Indianapolis, IN

  • (1) Kentucky v (16) Texas Southern/Wagner
  • (8) Xavier v (9) TCU

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Wisconsin v (13) IPFW
  • (5) Florida State v (12) Middle Tennessee

Indianapolis, IN

  • (2) Louisville v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Butler v (10) Arkansas

Sacramento, CA

  • (3) UCLA v (14) Akron
  • (6) Texas Tech v (11) Rhode Island

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) Villanova v (16) North Dakota
  • (8) Wake Forest v (9) Minnesota

Orlando, FL

  • (4) Florida v (13) Arkansas State
  • (5) Cincinnati v (12) UNC-Wilmington

Tulsa, OK

  • (2) Kansas v (15) Oakland
  • (7) Miami-FL v (10) Marquette

Milwaukee, WI

  • (3) Purdue v (14) Tennessee State
  • (6) Saint Mary’s v (11) USC/Texas A&M

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

Greenville, SC

  • (1) North Carolina v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Clemson v (9) SMU

Milwaukee, WI

  • (4) Indiana v (13) Lehigh
  • (5) Iowa State v (12) Chattanooga

Greenville, SC

  • (2) Virginia v (15) Vermont
  • (7) Arizona v (10) Northwestern

Tulsa, OK

  • (3) Baylor v (14) Yale
  • (6) Wichita State v (11) Houston/Oregon

Last four byes: Kansas State, Marquette, Arkansas, Providence

Last four in: USC, Houston, Oregon, Texas A&M

First four out: Illinois, Dayton, Ohio State, Seton Hall

Next four out: Georgia, Davidson, Central Florida, California

Four more: Georgetown, Temple, Pittsburgh, Auburn

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS (thru December 18 results) EAST v WEST, SOUTH v MIDWEST

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) West Virginia v (16) Sam Houston/UC Irvine
  • (8) Northwestern v (9) Clemson

Orlando, FL

  • (2) North Carolina v (15) New Mexico State
  • (7) Oklahoma State v (10) Marquette

Sacramento, CA

  • (3) Gonzaga v (14) Vermont
  • (6) South Carolina v (11) Oregon

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Florida v (13) IPFW
  • (5) Iowa State v (12) Arkansas State

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

Indianapolis, IN

  • (1) Kentucky v (16) Texas Southern/Wagner
  • (8) Virginia Tech v (9) Arizona

Tulsa, OK

  • (2) Kansas v (15) Tennessee State
  • (7) Butler v (10) Wake Forest

Indianapolis, IN

  • (3) Louisville v (14) Akron
  • (6) Saint Mary’s v (11) SMU/Illinois

Orlando, FL

  • (4) Indiana v (13) Monmouth
  • (5) Florida State v (12) Chattanooga

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

Greenville, SC

  • (1) Virginia v (16) North Dakota
  • (8) Xavier v (9) Minnesota

Sacramento, CA

  • (2) UCLA v (15) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (7) Michigan v (10) Providence

Milwaukee, WI

  • (3) Purdue v (14) Oakland
  • (6) Texas Tech v (11) Houston/Rhode Island

Salt Lake City, UT

  • (4) Cincinnati v (13) Nevada
  • (5) Creighton v (12) UNC-Wilmington

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

Buffalo, NY

  • (1) Villanova v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Kansas State v (9) Southern California

Greenville, SC

  • (2) Duke v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) TCU

Tulsa, OK

  • (3) Baylor v (14) Lehigh
  • (6) Miami-FL v (11) Dayton

Milwaukee, WI

  • (4) Notre Dame v (13) Yale
  • (5) Wisconsin v (12) Middle Tennessee

Last four byes: Arizona, Wake Forest, TCU, Oregon

Last four in: SMU, Houston, Rhode Island, Illinois

First four out: Arkansas, Texas A&M, Seton Hall, Ohio State

Next four out: Syracuse, Davidson, Temple, Central Florida

Four more: Auburn, VCU, Stanford, Pittsburgh

Re-Imagining the NASCAR Chase

It is rare that a Reddit post got me thinking – but as someone who is utterly fascinated by NASCAR’s difficulty settling on a proper championship playoff format, I was genuinely intrigued by this question:

If we were to re-imagine the Chase, what would you be looking for?  Suppose let’s set some ground rules:

  • It should be simple – one of the big issues I have with the Chase is that the points are confusing.  NASCAR uses wins and points in such a way that seeding when the playoffs start can be hard to follow.  Which leads me to the next rule.
  • There is a playoff – saying “run the 36 races” does not work.  The series wants to race in the fall – with the sports competition out there, it makes sense for the series to give its later races some extra oomph.  If you are charging real prices, it is hard to have a year where the field is out of luck.
  • Winning during the season matters – NASCAR wanting wins to be the goal of any race is commendable.
  • Make consistency matter – older point systems did not reward winning enough – but we still like the idea that consistently cranking out Top 10s is inherently valuable.  The tortoise and the hare can get to the same place by very different means.
  • The winner should not be arbitrary – the playoff should be exciting, and it’s okay that a Cinderella comes true now and again.  But the top drivers during the year should generally work out.

Using these rules, this “alternate reality” works like this (assuming we keep 36 races):

  • The points system is based on F1.  However, we stretch the points system to capture the Top 20 finishers.  (F1 only gives points to the Top 10, but their fields are half the size)
    • 60 points for 1st, 45 points for 2nd, 38 points for 3rd
    • 35 points for 4th, 32 for 5th,  29 for 6th down to 20 points for 9th
    • 10th is 18 points, 11th 16 points and so on down to 4 points for 17th
    • 3 points for 18th, 2 points for 19th, 1 point for 20th
    • 6 bonus points for most laps led.
  • The regular season encompasses the first 32 races.  One of the issues with the Chase is that it is too long.  This plan makes the Chase quicker and more impactful.
  • The playoffs are much more inclusive than currently – realistically, every driver out there should have a chance at the Cup.  Instead of watching a 43 car race where only a subset are aiming for the big prize, simplify things.
    • 3 races before the final.  No points reset
    • Points are quadrupled.  So 240 points for a playoff win, and 24 points for most laps.  These should all be the largest money races too.
    • The Top 40 drivers start the playoffs.  This means that pretty much getting a few Top 20 finishes gets you on the board.
    • The field is cut to 30 drivers after 1 races, 25 drivers after the 2nd race and then down to 20 drivers to qualify for the Cup Finals.
    • There is one points reset before Miami.  We use the PGA Tour reseed model.  The Top 5 drivers can win the Cup with a win in Miami.  A winner outside of the Top 20 could win the Cup too, but he/she needs higher ranked drivers to stumble.

Now, this system allows for a guy who had one good result – a road course specialist perhaps – have a chance to win the title.  This is true, but to do that the driver would have to basically sweep the Playoff and then win the final.  It’s just not something which can practically happen – but at least someone can enter the playoff thinking it is possible.

To see how this could have played out, we looked at how the 21st century would have played out with this points system.  Obviously the drivers would have driven a lot differently – especially in the final race – if the points system were different, but still interesting.  (when I refer to “won” the final, I use the highest finish among the 20 qualified drivers …)

Year Leader Entering Playoff Top 5 Entering Final Final Winner (rank entering) Champion
2001 Jeff Gordon (+268) Jeff Gordon, Sterling Marlin, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett Sterling Marlin (2) Sterling Marlin
2002 Tony Stewart (+77) Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth Kurt Busch (1) Kurt Busch
2003 Ryan Newman (+100) Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon Bobby Labonte (9) Jimmie Johnson
2004 Jimmie Johnson (+12) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch Greg Biffle (19) Jimmie Johnson
2005 Tony Stewart (+142) Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin Greg Biffle (2) Greg Biffle
2006 Jimmie Johnson (+9) Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon Greg Biffle (14) Jimmie Johnson
2007 Jeff Gordon (+180) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch Matt Kenseth (3) Matt Kenseth
2008 Carl Edwards (+15) Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle busch, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin Carl Edwards (1) Carl Edwards
2009 Jimmie Johnson (+52) Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart Denny Hamlin (2) Denny Hamlin
2010 Kevin Harvick (+24) Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer Carl Edwards (4) Carl Edwards
2011 Kyle Busch (+26) Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart (1) Tony Stewart
2012 Jimmie Johnson (+78) Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth Jeff Gordon (12) Jeff Gordon
2013 Jimmie Johnson (+28) Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr Denny Hamlin (18) Matt Kenseth
2014 Jeff Gordon (+4) Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski Kevin Harvick (1) Kevin Harvick
2015 Kevin Harvick (+18) Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski Kyle Busch (6) Kevin Harvick
2016 Kevin Harvick (+73) Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin Jimmie Johnson (6) Jimmie Johnson

Some observations from alternate history

  • It puts a lot of emphasis on winning Miami.  Only 4 times in 15 years does the champion not win.  Now, you would imagine the leaders would run up front more and try harder in this scenario (and with a smaller field there would be more space for that sort of driving).
  • Jimmie Johnson’s excellence is again highlighted – yes he only wins the Cup four times in this imaginary world, but he is in the Top 5 (the “win without help” group) 11 straight years and 12 of the last 14.
  • Now is it fair that in a year like 2001 or 2007 that a guy with an enormous lead lose?  No – but it is something you sign up for with a playoff.  And each of those drivers still had the best odds of any of the Final 20 to win the cup. (about 25%)

Anyway, thought it would be fun for a look.