Seeing Tony Stewart lead the parade last weekend at Texas, many fans wondered where he would be in the standings if he had made the Chase.

As every analyst has pointed out by now, he would be leading.

He has won 3 of the Chase races so far, compared to last year when he took home only one trophy in the last 10 races (granted, the most important one).

Is it fair that the defending champion should be on the outside looking in or should there be a special allowance in each year’s Chase for the previous champion? Is this really the most exciting competition we could have now?

The Chase rewards consistency and a whole lot of luck. While all of this year’s contenders have been plagued by trouble at one time or another, the leaders are those who’ve been able to keep their noses clean the longest…. like a 10 race demolition derby where the winner is just the one with minimal damage.

But consistency isn’t why we watch racing and it isn’t what makes the sport popular.

We watch for winners.

We would prefer our favorite driver to win one week and crash out the next in a blaze of glory. That’s certainly more exciting than two 15th place finishes. The best drivers aren’t necessarily rewarded; the most consistent are.

And frankly, that’s boring.

If Tony Stewart had made the Chase, he probably wouldn’t have won at Kansas since it is unlikely that a non-Chase racer would have gambled on fuel. However, he would have been a strong championship contender and likely still would have won at Atlanta and Kansas. More than that, it would have added excitement to the hunt to see the reigning champion fighting to defend his title.

So should the previous year’s Champion be automatically included in the Chase?

After all, NASCAR is no stranger to immunity.

Each week the Past Champions Provisional allows drivers like Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott to extend their careers running around the back of the pack.

But surely, last year’s Champion shouldn’t need a Provisional to make the Chase. He should be able to race his way in, right? Not when a few wins can’t make up the points lost by a handful of bad finishes. Year after year, the driver who wins the most is not the title winner.

As important as winning is to fans, it’s not equally as important to points. Luckily, the points system is currently being re-evaluated and it looks like winning will earn more. Once you award more points for winning, the previous year’s Champion shouldn’t need a provisional. As long as he keeps winning, he will be there at the end.

The way to get better racing is to make the points value the things that the fans value.

And that’s winning.

And possibly burnouts. Can they award points for those too?