NASCAR Hall of Famer Denny Hamlin has pointed out that a massive change to the playoff system in 2024 cost him the prestigious Cup series title. He believes that if the premier stock car racing sanctioning body hadn’t changed the rules and kept it the same as the previous season, he would have won it over Kevin Harvick.
2014 was the second-best season of Dale Jr.’s career, and the only the second time he came close to winning one. Ironically, his first solid title chase was in 2004 with Dale Earnhardt Inc., the same season the playoff format was implemented. In 2004, he lost the title to Kurt Busch despite scoring six wins and 16 top 10s. In 2014, he won 4 races and had 14 top-5s.
In 2014, NASCAR introduced the playoff elimination system, and the HMS star couldn’t survive long enough to emerge victorious. He talked about that disappointing finish to his campaign in his Dale Jr. Download podcast. Dale Jr. said he would have won it without the new system changing the whole game.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in his podcast, “One year they changed the system and if they had left it alone, we would’ve won. But it wasn’t the old Winston Cup system. That was one of the playoff systems … I think it was 2014 or something.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. explains his new approach to NASCAR
Dale Jr., in the same podcast, explained how his approach towards NASCAR changed after retirement. He pointed out that, at first, he was just a fan of pure racing who waited for the next races. But now he is more interested in the storylines of the racing, and that helps him to find NASCAR racing entertaining.
“I’ll say this as a fan; I am not entertained by this sport unless I really invest in the storylines. I used to struggle with that. I used to not really want to deal with the storylines; I just wanted to see an awesome race,” Dale Jr. said.
“I just wanted to see a race and go, ‘Heck yeah, I can’t wait to come back here next year.’ It was very singular. So, what really went wrong, or rather what changed through the years? But now, there are all these stories that are compelling to me, that I used to not get into, used to not think much about,” Dale Jr. added.
Justin P Joy is a Motorsports writer and editor at FirstSportz. He has been a motorsport journalist since 2020 and has published over 2000 articles. Justin has extensively covered two NASCAR, Formula One, and Moto GP seasons for FirstSportz. He has invested more than a decade of his life on Motorsports, first as a fan and later as a dedicated writer. Justin’s in-depth knowledge of Motorsports and his experience as a fan make his writing resonate with most racing fans worldwide.
Justin's love for racing started when he discovered Moto GP at the age of 8. That love later guided him into the world of Formula 1. He fell in love with NASCAR after watching Tom Cruise’s “Days of Thunder” and has been an avid follower of the premier stock car racing series since. He has also been investing his time to exploring WEC, WRC, Formula E, Extreme E, and IndyCar in a bid to deeply understand the culture and history of Motorsports to present a unique perspective to the fans.
FirstSportz is the First Stop for all sports fanatics. Starting in 2019, we initially covered Olympic Sports, but in 2021 we added every other sport which you might be looking for, like NFL, Golf, MLB, WWE Cricket, Football, Tennis, Esports, NBA, MMA and more.