By all accounts, the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship has worked precisely as intended. There have been multiple instances of championships coming down to the final run of the season to determine champions. 

Granted, the Countdown to the Championship was not an original idea by the team in Glendora. It was following NASCAR's lead and its bid to create a playoff atmosphere for championship battles after more than a few runaways. Believing that fans had lost interest, NASCAR changed its format for determining its champ.

More often than not, before the Countdown, NHRA titles were determined as early as Dallas, the third-to-last race of the season. 

NHRA's initial foray into the auto racing playoffs in 2007 was flawed and sometimes confusing with driver elimination and a second point reset. Fans were clear: The procedure was just too confusing. A year later, it was adjusted to be a clear sprint in the final races. 

For the most part, the Countdown to the Championship has crowned deserving champions. Sometimes it hasn't. But when presented with the rules of the game, you play them to your advantage, as some did. 

But along the way, those exploits drew criticisms, with one racer referring to it as drag racing's welfare points system. There were cries that the system made the regular season irrelevant.

The initial concerns focused on racers who had labored tirelessly to build up a points lead, only to have their hard work erased with a points reset. Racers who were part of the regular touring group feared that if they didn't reach the Countdown, they would lose media coverage and, in turn, sponsorship. By all accounts, that never happened, but that didn't stop NHRA from creating what many described as a participation trophy inclusion to appease those who couldn't afford to miss races -- but couldn't spend the money needed to win them, either. 

Now, anyone can get into the Countdown, provided they compete in all the events. In this scenario, my 0-14 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have gotten into the NFL playoffs because they simply showed up every Sunday. 

That is the point where the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship officially jumped the shark. 

It's hard to scrap an idea that works. The Countdown worked as it was intended to by generating excitement. There's a big difference between organic and manipulated. 

Case in point, in 1980, part of the so-called good ol' days, two of the four NHRA championships went down to the final day, and in one instance, the final run. In 2023, all three of the four title championships went down to the season's final day, with one -- Top Fuel -- going down to the final run. The difference was there were eight events in 1980, and there were 21 in 2023, with a points reset and six races to determine the champion. One was organic. The other was manipulated. 

Some criticize without solutions. I'm not one of those. 

We can rework the existing model with some tweaks to eliminate the arguments of those who feel cheated when they have a better season and come up short. If only the last six races are the only ones that matter, then why even count points in the first 15?

No, that's not my idea of how to make it work. 

First off, the whole points reset -- and I'm not getting political -- it reeks of socialism. You take away rightfully earned points and give them to others who didn't do as well. How else would you describe it?

Secondly, if you didn't finish in the top 10 ... you don't deserve a spot in the Countdown. But just because you finished in the top 10 at the end of the season shouldn't guarantee you a spot in the top 10 money if you don't attend the season's final events, either. 

Stop calling this the playoffs because it is not a playoff. Playoff teams only play playoff teams. In drag racing, a "playoff" team can be knocked out of a race by a team in their first event of the season. 

So here's the plan. End the regular season at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn. Whoever is in the top 10 qualifies to earn double points for the remainder of the season. Do not reset the points. Stop robbing racers of what they earned all year long. 

Don't double qualifying points because rounds should decide a championship won, not who had a better run in Q1 when the track was not at its prime. 

No one should ever get comfortable after Brainerd. Let those who finished 11th through 20th earn points-and-a-half. This way, a team could get hot and finish in the top 10 and maybe earn a championship, but it will be tough. At least they still have skin in the game late in the season. 

Build up a robust tech department for those final seven races where racers can actually run for a world record. The pits and the fans never bought into the reasoning that they couldn't do the math on the one-percent backup. Make this a perk for those final races since #2Fast2Tasty does an excellent job for racers to earn points in the first 15.. 

Those who consider themselves real journalists will always put their ideas to the test, and I spent two hours figuring points for those who were the contenders. 

Of the four championships decided on Sunday in the Countdown, all four would have been champions in my new formula. Only three of four would have been determined Sunday since manipulation was the only way the Pro Stock Motorcycle title was not decided earlier. 

We are not NASCAR, which has made a mockery of their format by sectioning out their races. We are not stick-and-ball sports, that use a playoff system to determine their best of the best champions in sudden-death formats.   

We are drag racing, the ultimate and original extreme sport founded on the merits of its originality and ability to innovate beyond innovation. 

It's time to consider our own championship formula and forget what everyone else is doing.