This is purely sarcastic and should not be taken seriously at all.
It has been a few months into the 2017 season, the first since NASCAR unveiled the new race and points format. After looking them over a number of times and watching them in use, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between NASCAR and the National Hockey League.
The first example would be the stage format. For those either living under a rock or new to NASCAR, they introduced the new system this year; the race is split into three stages, with the first two of equal length and the final being twice as long. At the end of each stage, bonus points are awarded to the top-ten finishers. This promotes the idea of racing hard for every lap instead of staying in the back before moving up in the later portion of the race.
A full race split into three? Sounds awfully familiar…
NASCAR also introduced a new change to its points system. While the playoffs remain, the points leader at the end of the regular season is crowned the “regular season champion”, similar to the Presidents Trophy in the NHL. Since this means the possibility of the best regular season team/driver not winning the playoffs and ultimately the championship, I suppose one can say Jeff Gordon is probably the Washington Capitals or San Jose Sharks of NASCAR.
This “NASCAR is becoming the NHL” idea also extends beyond the racing product. Last year, I wrote a post about the Internet voting Matt DiBenedetto into the NASCAR All-Star Race and compared the situation to that of John Scott. While the NHL had taken measures to prevent such a case like Scott from happening again, NASCAR doesn’t have the same idea. In fact, if Josh Wise has taught us anything, it’s that NASCAR seems to enjoy seeing these stories (assuming the likes of Danica Patrick weren’t already voted in).
Of course, how could I possibly forget another aspect of hockey that NASCAR has featured? One word: fights. Everyone knows about hockey fights, while NASCAR fights are often publicized on practically every sporting outlet once they occur (like Gordon/Brad Keselowski at Texas in 2014). When Kyle Busch fought Joey Logano at Las Vegas earlier this year, everyone pounced on it. At the same time, however, NASCAR fights are extremely rare, which makes them comparable to the NHL as the fight rate has decreased in recent years.
Finally, the main reason why NASCAR is probably the NHL on wheels: their leaders are men that fans love to hate. Brian France is loathed for making changes that many deemed unnecessary (like the playoffs), while Gary Bettman is hated for reasons like the absurd number of lockouts and otherwise more money-grabbing tactics (like the World Cup of Hockey and placing an NHL team in Vegas).
With these in mind, it is quite obvious that NASCAR is slowly turning into the NHL. Soon, we will be splitting the series into conferences and having 28-race playoffs.