Kyle Busch understands the perils of a winner-take-all playoff scenario all too well.
He's been sporting a lot of Seattle Seahawks gear during Speedweeks at Daytona, paying off a bet with Kasey Kahne after Kahne's Seahawks trounced Busch's Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Unlike the Broncos, NASCAR's championship contenders have always had a chance to gain a cushion leading up to the final event of the season via the sport's points system.
As part of NASCAR's new playoff system, 16 teams will make the Chase for the final 10 races, but teams will be eliminated by the points standings every three races. In the end, only four of the cars that take the green flag for the finale at Homestead, Fla., in November will have a chance to win the title, with the best finisher for that lone race winning it all.
"It's basically a Super Bowl deal, where you can win all these games and win all these races and get up to the last one and you can stumble a little bit and struggle and go home up the loser," Busch said Thursday while promoting the special Peanut M&M's paint scheme he will drive for Sunday's Daytona 500. "So, it's certainly makes it worthwhile. You've got to be good each and every week and perform."
That's always been the argument that a NASCAR premier series champion should be weighed in some measure on consistency, and Busch understands that the move could upset traditionalists.
"You can upset your avid fans to try to achieve gathering a few casual fans, sure," Busch said. "But, you know, in this sport it's about simplicity as well sometimes, where you know, our rulebook was getting so thick. And actually this year, NASCAR has eliminated probably 20 pages of our rulebook. So that's been really good for the teams to have a bigger box to play in and a better opportunity to achieve better racecars, more success on the racetrack."
In the end, Busch sees the new format's strength in simplicity as having the potential to secure long-term growth and retain attention. Unlike other sports, NASCAR starts with the biggest event in the Daytona 500, then fights for viewers nine months later within the heart of the NFL campaign.
"Make it a little bit simpler," Busch said. "Make it where these guys, kids, girls, coming out of high school or college, whatever, they don't have to understand a points system. They don't have to figure it all out. They don't have to Google it, or go to Wikipedia and figure out what the hell's going on. They basically get it. The guy who wins or the guy who finishes ahead of all the rest is going to be the one who takes it all."