Fans Rally Against NASCAR Playoffs as Interesting Stat Makes William Byron the Real 2023 Champion

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The inception of the playoff format in 2004 divided opinions back then. While the Cup Series has benefited from this style of competition, the debate still continues. In the recently concluded season, Ryan Blaney registered his first title win involving the playoff approach. However, an interesting statistic that has come to light shows William Byron as the 2023 champion.
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NASCAR introduced the playoff system primarily to make the mid-season more competitive and thereby increase fan interest and television ratings. While it helped the sport, it is questionable if it has really helped the consistent drivers.
William Byron faces the harsh truth of the playoff format despite consistent performances in 2023
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The 2023 Cup Series season witnessed plenty of penalties issued from NASCAR’s end. While most of the on-track actions merited those punishments, some of them couldn’t have been avoided. Unfortunately, William Byron had his share of penalties to deal with.
While that didn’t hamper Byron‘s progress to the playoffs, it surely made it tricky for him. Having said that, he dealt with the pressure amazingly well and made his way to the Championship 4. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go all the way at Phoenix Raceway but his consistency throughout the season deserved a better result.
In fact, a recent revelation showed how Byron could have won the championship had it been the traditional points system that existed prior to 2004. The “Chase for the Cup” system went under multiple modifications ever since its inception. Prior to its existence, the original points system i.e. the driver with the most points winning the title, delighted the fans more often than not.
Considering the same style of ranking, William Byron would have won the 2023 Cup Series title with 4777 points. What’s more amazing is that with the traditional system, this would have meant Hendrick Motorsports winning for the third time in a row.
Undoubtedly, Byron performed exceedingly well this season with six wins, 15 top-five, and 21 top-ten finishes. If that doesn’t merit a championship win, what does? With the traditional Winston Cup points system, Ryan Blaney would have finished seventh with 4581 points.
WATCH THIS STORY: William Byron’s Crew Chief Acknowledges Ryan Blaney’s Strong Practice Performance
This surely raises a lot of questions involving the current format. Is this really the right method to judge a driver’s performance in the entire season? Well, plenty of fans certainly don’t think so as they voiced their opinion on social media. Interestingly, with the traditional points system, many fans pointed out how Denny Hamlin faced an unimaginable fate.
Fans criticize the playoff format as they banter Denny Hamlin in the process
Without a doubt, the playoff format has its own charm and excitement. However, it does give plenty of chance to non-performing drivers to have a late run and seize their opportunities. Both Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney struggled in the 2022 and 2023 regular season respectively. Despite that, they triumphed with a title win which speaks volumes about the advantages of the current playoff format.
While that helps drivers in its own way, the thought that William Byron could have won this season, made plenty of fans unhappy. As they took out their frustration on social media, some interesting observations came to light. One fan said, “This just feels more right looking back throughout recent years.”
Another pointed out how the traditional format would have helped reward a consistent driver. He said, “I wish this format was still the format, who cares if a driver clinches the championship a race or two early, it just means they kicked ass that year.” One more fan spoke on similar lines as he said, “The best layout for a championship for sure.”
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At the same time, one fan highlighted, “That makes it the least amount of points a champion have collected since having a 36 race season.” While it is true, it is worth noting the amount of points deducted through penalties in Byron’s case. What’s more interesting is that Denny Hamlin would have ended runner-up with the old points system.
Furthermore, one fan said, “Wow Denny Hamlin couldn’t win a championship under the old rules system.” Unfortunately for Hamlin, it is true as the list fails to have the Joe Gibbs Racing driver as the winner in any case. While the traditional system would have changed the title scenario more often than not, it surely would have helped William Byron this year.
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What do you think? Is the current playoff system rightfully rewarding for the consistent drivers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
William Byron’s Historic Season Was Futile in the NASCAR Playoffs Despite Dominating in Points

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