NASCAR considers radical Chase changes

Jan. 18, 2014 @ 08:23 PM

 A 16-driver championship field that would be whittled down to create a winner-take-all season finale is among radical changes reportedly being considered by NASCAR.

NASCAR chairman Brian France has repeatedly said he wants to place a greater emphasis on winning, and he’s never ruled out tinkering with the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format in an effort to create the “Game 7 moments” he covets.
The Charlotte Observer first reported Friday night a possible overhaul to the Chase format that France first introduced in 2004 and has made periodic changes to several times since.
Citing anonymous sources, The Observer outlined three major changes beginning with expanding the field from 12 drivers to 16 — meaning a win during the “regular season” would virtually guarantee a driver a spot in the field.
Once the field is set, The Observer said NASCAR is considering eliminations during the 10-race Chase.
The field would be cut after the third, sixth and ninth races. The proposed eliminations would drop the lowest four drivers from title contention after the third, sixth and ninth races, leaving four drivers eligible for a “winner-take-all” race in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The four remaining drivers would go into Homestead with their points reset and tied in the standings, The Observer said.
A statement from NASCAR chief communications officer Brett Jewkes was non-committal on The Observer report.
“NASCAR has begun the process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format,” Jewkes said. “This dialogue is the final phase of a multi-year process that has included the review of extensive fan research, partner and industry feedback and other data-driven insights. NASCAR has no plans to comment further until the stakeholder discussions are complete. We hope to announce any potential changes for the 2014 season to our media and fans very soon.”
But driver Denny Hamlin posted a series of Tweets on Saturday afternoon that supported the format if NASCAR ultimately moves forward with the changes. NASCAR is expected to officially outline any changes later this month.
So a shake up to the system wouldn’t be unexpected. But it may not necessarily look like what The Observer reported — the newspaper was clear the format is only being considered — because it’s not unlike NASCAR to float ideas to gauge reaction.

DCCC DOWNS CHARIS PREP
LEXINGTON — Robert Story drilled five 3-pointers en route to 24 points as Davidson County Community College defeated Charis Prep 106-80 in Brinkley Gym on Saturday.
C.J. Woodberry added 21 points for the Storm (14-3), while Daniel Lawson had 19 points and eight rebounds. Garry Hairston tallied 15 points and Ace Chalmers 12 for DCCC, which travels to Caldwell Community College on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

CLEMSON’S SWINNEY GETS 8-YEAR DEAL
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney received a new, eight-year contract Saturday and a raise that increased his total pay for next season to $3.15 million.
The agreement had been in the works since the end of the season. The school announced the reworked contract that ties Swinney to the Tigers through 2021. Swinney’s previous deal paid him a total of $2.55 million and was good through 2017.

GUILFORD WOMEN TOP RANDOLPH-MACON
GREENSBORO — Gabby Oglesby and Morgan King each turned in a double-double as Guilford downed Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) co-leader Randolph-Macon, 80-67, Saturday afternoon at Ragan Brown Field House.
The Quakers  (12-3, 4-2 ODAC) played a strong all around game. They came in with the third-ranked defense in Division III and played another tough defensive game. Guilford held Randolph-Macon, which came in as the third-rated offense, to just 35.2% shooting for the game. Oglesby finished with a team-high 20 points while King added 12. Both Guilford post players tied with a game-high 14 rebounds.

BOBCATS SLIP PAST MAGIC, 111-101
ORLANDO, Fla. — Al Jefferson had 30 points and 16 rebounds, Kemba Walker added 19 points and 10 assists and the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Orlando Magic 111-101 on Friday night.
The Magic dug out of an 18-point first-half hole and pulled to 78-76 early in the fourth quarter. However, the Bobcats shot 16 for 20 on free throws in the final period to help secure the win.
Josh McRoberts and Gerald Wallace added 17 points apiece for Charlotte.
Arron Afflalo scored 24 points in his return to the Magic lineup, and Tobias Harris and Jameer Nelson each added 18.

SATURDAY’S ACC ROUNDUP

(2) SYRACUSE 59, (22) PITTSBURGH 54
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis scored 16 points, including two driving layups and two free throws in the final 2 minutes, and No. 2 Syracuse beat No. 22 Pittsburgh 59-54 on Saturday in a battle for first place in the ACC between the two former Big East rivals.
Syracuse (18-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) entered the game 2-0 against former Big East rivals, with victories over St. John’s and Villanova. The Orange made it three straight and remained one of only three unbeatens in Division I.
In four of the past five seasons, Syracuse has started with at least 13 consecutive wins, and twice in the last four years Pitt (16-2, 4-1) had stopped those streaks.C.J. Fair had 13 points, Jerami Grant added 12 and Rakeem Christmas had 10 for Syracuse. James Robinson, who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, had six points, four assists and one turnover for Pitt and Talib Zanna finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

VIRGINIA 78, FLORIDA STATE 66
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Joe Harris and Virginia didn’t let a disappointment at Duke knock them off their rhythm.
Harris scored 18 points, Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 and the Cavaliers used an early 22-5 run to take command on their way to a 78-66 victory against Florida State on Saturday, claiming a sweep of its season series against the Seminoles. The Cavaliers (13-5, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 45-26 at halftime after closing with an 11-3 run. The sweep is the first for the Cavaliers against the Seminoles since the 2000-01 season. Okaro White and Aaron Thomas scored 15 each for Florida State (12-5, 3-2).

MIAMI 56, GEORGIA TECH 42
ATLANTA — Freshman Manu Lecomte scored a career-high 16 points, Donnavan Kirk added 14 points and Miami used its tight zone defense to beat Georgia Tech 56-42 on Saturday.
The Hurricanes (10-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) showed why it ranks ninth in average points allowed, causing Georgia Tech to miss 27 of its first 35 shots from the field. Trae Golden finished with 12 points for the Yellow Jackets (10-8, 1-4), who used an eight-man rotation following injuries or sickness suffered by Robert Carter Jr., Jason Morris and Solomon Poole.

SATURDAY’S REGIONAL ROUNDUP

DAVIDSON 93, UNC GREENSBORO 82
GREENSBORO — De’Mon Brooks scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds Saturday night as Davidson beat UNC Greensboro 93-82.
Jack Gibbs scored 17, Brian Sullivan 14, and Davidson (8-11, 4-1 Southern) outshot UNC Greensboro 48.1 percent to 41.2 percent and sank 35 of 39 free-throw attempts.
Brooks put Davidson up 13-12 with a free throw and the Wildcats pulled away on a 10-2 run to lead 40-32 at halftime. Brooks scored nine points in the half.
Davidson ripped an 11-2 run capped on a dunk by Jordan Barham to pull ahead 61-46 at 10:20 in the second half. Kyle Cain scored six straight points for the Spartans to make it an eight-point game at 4:14, but Barham replied with five straight and the Wildcats hit 13 free throws down the stretch to win.
Nicholas Paulos scored 27 for the Spartans, including 9 of 9 3-pointers. Tevon Saddler scored 20 and Cain 19.

APPALACHIAN STATE 81, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 68
BOONE — Tommy Spagnolo scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds to propel Appalachian State past Georgia Southern 81-68 on Saturday.
The Mountaineers (5-13, 1-4 Southern Conference) broke the game open with an 18-2 spurt midway through the second half that included 3-pointers by Spagnolo, Tab Hamilton and two from Chris Burgess to make it 70-52 with about four minutes to play. Hamilton contributed 17 points, Burgess added 15 and Michael Obacha 14 for Appalachian State, which shot 48 percent from the field, including 10 of 20 beyond the arc. The Eagles fell to 9-10, 2-2.

WESTERN CAROLINA 67, SAMFORD 64
CULLOWHEE — James Sinclair scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting and Trey Sumler added 13 as Western Carolina defeated Samford 67-64 Saturday.
The Catamounts (11-8, 4-0 Southern) pushed ahead in the second half with Sinclair hitting a 3-pointer and Sumler converting a four-point play to spark a 10-1 run and put Western Carolina up 51-41. Isaiah Williams led the Bulldogs (7-13, 1-4) with 15 points.

UNC ASHEVILLE 80, CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 76
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Freshman point guard Andrew Rowsey pumped in a career-high 35 points as North Carolina-Asheville snapped a four-game regular-season losing streak to defending Big South regular-season champion Charleston Southern with an 80-76 win Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (9-9, 3-1 Big South) now have won eight of their past 10 games under first-year coach Nick McDevitt after a 1-7 start.
The team’s leading scorer averaging 16 points per game, Rowsey drilled three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the final 4:17, bringing the Bulldogs back from a 73-62 deficit. Rowsey’s 3-pointer with 2:22 left cut the Buccaneer’s lead to two, 74-72. After Saah Nimley scored to push the Charleston Southern lead back to four points, Rowsey fed Sam Hughes for a layup before drilling a 3 to put the Bulldogs in the lead for the first time in the second half.
NImley finished with 19 points to lead Charleston Southern (8-9, 2-2).

FIU 68, EAST CAROLINA 64
MIAMI — Rakeem Buckles scored 18 points, including a pair of free throws with 7 seconds to play, grabbed 11 rebounds and swiped four steals as Florida International beat East Carolina 68-64 Saturday.
Jerome Fink’s layup with 1:53 remaining gave FIU (10-9, 2-2 Conference USA) a 66-62 lead. Michael Zangari hit a pair of free throws to pull ECU within two with 33 seconds left and, after a series of missed free throws by both teams, Akeem Richmond missed a 3-point shot for the Pirates. Buckles grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Zangari before icing the game at the line.
Tymell Murphy added 18 points, seven boards and four assists for the Golden Panthers, who shot 52 percent from the floor. Dennis Mavin scored 10 points.
Paris Roberts-Campbell led ECU (11-7, 0-3) with 15 points and seven assists. Zangari added 14 points and Caleb White 11. Antonio Robinson finished with 10.

CAMPBELL 97, VMI 93 (OT)
BUIES CREEK — Darius Leonard and Reco McCarter both scored 21 points and Campbell upended VMI 97-93 in overtime on Saturday. McCarter added 13 rebounds for the Fighting Camels (9-10, 3-1 Big South) while Rodney Glasgow scored 20 points for VMI (9-8, 2-2).

GARDNER-WEBB 67, PRESBYTERIAN 58
CLINTON, S.C. — Naji Hibbert and Tyler Strange both scored 18 points as Gardner-Webb staved off a late charge to beat Presbyterian 67-58 on Saturday.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs (9-10, 2-2 Big South) extended a second half lead to 15 with 8:42 left, but Presbyterian (4-15, 0-4) cut it to two points with 3:01 to go. Gardner-Webb responded with a Jerome Hill layup and a Hibbert 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to quell the threat. Presbyterian was led by William Truss with 20 points.

DREXEL 79, UNC WILMINGTON 63
WILMINGTON — Frantz Massenat scored a career-high 30 points and Freddie Wilson scored all 16 of his points in the second half as Drexel staged a 30-point turnaround to defeat UNC Wilmington 79-63 on Saturday.
The Dragons (10-7, 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association) were down 14 just before halftime. They first caught the Seahawks (6-14, 0-5) with 11:47 remaining after Wilson scored six straight points. Wilson put Drexel up for good at 53-51 with a basket with 8:39 left. From there, the Dragons outscored the Seahawks 26-12. Craig Ponder scored a season-high 16 points for UNCW, which has lost nine straight.

RADFORD 93, LONGWOOD 76
RADFORD, Va. — Ya Ya Anderson scored 19 points and Javonte Green added 17 with 19 rebounds as Radford led start-to-finish in a 93-76 defeat of Longwood on Saturday.
The Highlanders (13-6, 3-1 Big South) were at the free-throw line inside the game’s first minute, hitting 25 of 28, and led by as many as 14 before halftime. Tristan Carey led the Lancers (5-14, 0-4) with 27 points.