Ok, so Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not win the 2013 NASCAR Championship as we know; at least under the previous Chase format. However, with the new rules out, Earnhardt Jr. would have in fact, been your winner in 2013 if these rules were in place. So, Junior Nation, there is hope for you and your driver after all to win a championship.

This move to the new format claims to be all about winning; they have said that for years. But in 2013 alone, and Earnhardt Jr. being you champion, proves that winning is not everything and it never has been. But here we are again with a new format and new points and new everything! It may be a bit hard to understand the new rules so I am going to use 2013 to explain it to you. And yes, there is math involved but I know you can all follow along.

Let me set the scene for you; Richmond, in September, at night. The race has finished and Carl Edwards has captured the flag and sits atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings; well, he did. The Chase for the Sprint Cup is now here. 11 drivers have won a race: Matt Kenseth [5] , Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, [4], Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne [2], Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, David Ragan [1]. And the 5 highest non-winners in the points have been seeded to contend for the Championship: Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Jeff Gordon.

The points have been reset to 2000 a piece plus 3 bonus points for every win earned in the regular season; this puts Kenseth on top with 2015 points.


Challenger Round (Chicagoland, Loudon, Dover):

Kenseth grabs 2 wins and Johnson grabs 1 (to sum it up nice and quick; no pun intended). Off to the leader board we go and it looks as thus:

Matt Kenseth [2 wins] - 2149

Jimmie Johnson [1 win] - 2141

Kyle Busch - 2137

Kevin Harvick - 2110

Jeff Gordon - 2110

Greg Biffle - 2108

Ryan Newman - 2104

Clint Bowyer - 2098

Kurt Busch - 2094

Martin Truex Jr. - 2093

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2092

Carl Edwards - 2084

Joey Logano - 2083

Brad Keselowski - 2079

Kasey Kahne - 2077

David Ragan - 2056

After the Challenger Round, we bid farewell to Logano, Keselowski, Kahne, and Ragan; sorry fellas, but your chance for the shiny trophy has come to an end. We wish you better luck next year. We now reset the points to 3000 a piece.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are no bonus points awarded for wins in the Chase; every driver will start with the exact same points; but points for leading laps/leading the most laps are still in play.


The Contender Round (Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega):

The races have completed and everyone made it through Talladega; some better than other mind you. It is important to note that Kevin Harvick has won a race during the Contender Round so he is moving on for sure regardless of where he is in the points right now. The points have been tallied and over to the leader board we go! 

Kevin Harvick [1 win] - 3118

Jimmie Johnson - 3113

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 3110

Jeff Gordon - 3110

Carl Edwards - 3102

Matt Kenseth - 3101

Clint Bowyer - 3099

Kurt Busch - 3099

Greg Biffle - 3093

Kyle Busch - 3091

Martin Truex Jr. - 3083

Ryan Newman - 3081

After the Contender Round, we bid farewell to Biffle, Kyle Busch, Truex Jr., and Newman; you four have fought valiantly, but your chance for the shiny trophy, too, has come to an end. We wish you better luck next year.

Reset time! We now reset the points to 4000 a piece. With me so far?


Eliminator Round (Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix):

The 8 remaining drivers have fought tooth and nail, and beaten and banged up (at least their cars are) and have done all they could to put themselves into position to win one of these final three races to ensure they head to Homestead Speedway with a chance at hoisting the trophy. Well, there is good news for 3 of these drivers; Gordon, Johnson, and Harvick each won a race and they are safe from elimination. There is 1 spot that remains and that spot goes to the driver who did not win a race but accumulated the best finishes and thus the most points. Let us take a look at the leader board to find out who that lucky guy is:

Jimmie Johnson [1 win] - 4130

Kevin Harvick [1 win] - 4122

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 4119

Matt Kenseth - 4106

Clint Bowyer - 4100

Kurt Busch - 4092

Jeff Gordon [1 win] - 4084

Carl Edwards - 4064

Now, as you see here, the top 4 in points are Johnson, Harvick, Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth respectively. However, since Gordon, Johnson, and Harvick won a race, they are in it to win it (as the saying goes). So if we pretend they are not in the points battle, we are left with:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 4119

Matt Kenseth - 4106

Clint Bowyer - 4100

Kurt Busch - 4092

Carl Edwards - 4064

Therefore, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. has earned the final spot in Homestead with Hendrick Motorsports teammates, and Harvick. Poor Kenseth fell oh so short and after having such an awesome first year with a new team; we can only expect to see him fighting even harder next year. We'd like to thank Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Edwards for partaking in this battle but they are no longer going to win the championship and the glory that comes with it.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship (Homestead):

35 races have been completed in the 2013 season and we are at the final race of the year. The crowd is roaring, the drivers are ready, and 4 drivers are more nervous than the rest of the field as they know they have to bring their A++++++ game today if they want to hoist the trophy at the end of the day.

The points have been reset one final time to 5000 a piece. Now, if you want to win the championship, you must finish ahead of the remaining 3 chasers.

These 4 drivers seem to have brought their A++++++ game with them; they know this is the end, the last battle, their final statement, to prove they are the NASCAR Champion. They have all fought hard, driven harder than any race this year in hopes of beating the others. One driver has done that today better than the other 3 (hence why he is the champion). We head on over to the leader board one last time to see who has won (because we could care less who finished 2nd through 16th):

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 5042

Jimmie Johnson - 5035

Kevin Harvick - 5035

Jeff Gordon - 5033

He may not have had any bonus points going into this race but he sure had the finish when it counted. He did not win the race, but he has won the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship: DALE EARNHARDT JR!!!!!!!!!!!! Junior Nation has been waiting for this day for far too long now. They can finally celebrate the championship winning ways of their favorite driver.

Without winning a single race all season but being one of the most consistent drivers in the garage, Dale Jr. has pulled off an upset by defeating Johnson, Harvick, and Gordon in the final race of the season.



Maybe winning is not everything after all...