When the CRA Super Series Championship Chase begins on Saturday night at Berlin Raceway, it will do so without the two winningest drivers from this past season.
Travis Braden and Brian Campbell won 5 of the 10 regular season events but were not eligible for the playoffs since they did not meet the eligibility requirements established back in December. Those rules stated that the field would be made up of eight drivers with entries determined NASCAR style.
That means winners are guaranteed a spot, assuming there were eight or less of them, with the rest of the playoff grid being decided by championship points.
Braden and Campbell finished the regular season with three and two victories respectively, were seventh and eighth in the standings, but appeared in less than 75 percent of the first 10 races — the final eligibility requirement.
Thus, the CRA decided to go with six playoff drivers instead of eight.
But man, I personally really wish CRA officials Glenn Luckett and RJ Scott had called an audible and allowed Braden and Campbell in. Braden is a two-time champion of the series while Campbell is second on the all-time wins list.
But according to Scott, it’s something the series never put any thought into.
“We never thought about including them unless they met the 75 percent requirement,” Scott said. “It would not have been fair to those who did meet the previously announced guidelines. We would have loved for them to be competing for the championship. Absolutely. But they knew the guidelines and did not choose to pursue the Championship.”
On one hand, I agree because Josh Brock, Hunter Jack, Logan Runyon, Dalton Armstong, Johnny VanDoorn and Wes Griffith Jr. all made the financial commitment to run 75 percent or more of the races. That loyalty would be betrayed it the CRA allowed a team that barely ran half the races to then contend for the championship.
On the other hand, Braden and Campbell ran enough races to get them to seventh and eighth in the championship standings. Not only have they won five races, they are excluded from a field that only produced ONE SINGLE WINNER in the form of Johnny VanDoorn.
It’s probably a lesson that the participation guideline should probably be 65 or 70 percent next year.
All told, the CRA has a good thing going with this playoff format. After all, full-time participation doubled from two to four this year with the likes of VanDoorn and Griffith running enough to warrant their entry into the field of eight … erm, six.
It takes a lot to run for a full season nowadays and it was a good idea to alleviate some of that pressure from would-be championship contenders. Moving forward, maybe the CRA (and other regional tours) can drop that number by just a little bit.
In the meantime, how cool would it be if the winningest drivers in the series were actually racing for the championship?
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