A rain-shortened elimination race that left four drivers wondering what might have been? Check.
An elimination race with a restart that wasnât a restart, followed by a suspicious race-ending crash? Check.
Race leaders being taken out en route to wins that would clinch berths in the next round? See Matt Kenseth vs. Joey Logano, Parts I and II.
Given the trend, itâs fair to wonder what could be next. Maybe a meteor strike on the first-place car? Somehow that doesnât seem far-fetched in NASCAR.
This was the fear when NASCAR announced a one-race playoff to determine the champion of a 36-race season. With four drivers on even ground and the first one to finish winning the title â 400 miles to decide it all â anything could happen.
What if the dominant car cut a tire? Got caught in someone elseâs crash? Was the victim of an ill-timed debris caution?
Did NASCAR really want to decide its champion that way?
The answer was yes, because the entertainment value of a Game 7 moment outweighs the bland nature of a finale that often featured one driver entering with a comfortable points lead.
But with everything on the line at Homestead, itâs worth wondering whether weather should be reason to try something different. In baseball, for example, all World Series games must be played to completion â even if itâs the next day.
Last week, the Phoenix International Raceway elimination race was cut short by weather, setting the championship field based on the running order at the time of the rain.
That was consistent with NASCAR policy â a race past the halfway point is considered official and must be completed on the same day.
Thursday, NASCAR executive vice president Steve OâDonnell told a couple of reporters, including one from USA TODAY Sports, that each situation was unique and officials wouldnât necessarily react the same way at Homestead as they did at Phoenix.
But he declined to speculate on whether it was possible to finish the race on a different day should rain interfere past halfway point.
For their part, drivers said theyâre OK with the current weather policy.
âI think it would be very unfortunate, but it is what it is,â Kyle Busch said. âI mean, the rules have been the way the rules are for a long, long time and everybody ridicules NASCAR for changing the rules whenever they want, and this time theyâre sticking to it.â
Said Jeff Gordon, âI mean, itâs South Florida. When the rain comes â you canât predict it. You canât plan for it.â
In that manner, it sounds a lot like the way the Chase itself has played out.
That makes for compelling viewing, but leaves an uneasy feeling about how the sportâs champion could be decided. In the inaugural edition of the new Chase, the fastest car â Kevin Harvickâs â ended up winning.
But thatâs not always going to be so, and how the garage and fan base react when that becomes reality will go a long way toward determining whether the playoff ultimately succeeds or fails.