I don't just think it, I'm pretty confident that this might happen. Without the Chase, and with the majority of winners more than likely never scoring a point this season, there is a good chance that this year's Nationwide Champion will never make it to victory lane.
Last year, only two non-Cup regulars won a race. And one of them was Boris Said, a road course ringer. So you can't really count him as a Nationwide driver either. The last Nationwide regular to win a race was Justin Allgaier at Bristol. So to think that the weekends that the series is independent from a Cup race is a sure thing for the Nationwide guys, think again. Road America, and Gateway were won by Carl Edwards last year. Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski won at Nashville. And Kyle Busch took home the checkered flag at Iowa.
So even with the "declared championship" rule. I think it's more than possible this years Nationwide Champ will never see victory lane until the Nationwide Championship trophy presentation at Homestead. And even then it's not victory lane. It's the front stretch. Its even possible that the Nationwide Champion could win the title, while another Nationwide regular wins a race or two. With the way the points are set up now, consistency is even more key without a chase format at the end of the year. Besides, when you finish 4th, and the next closest finishing "regular" is 8th, 9th, or 10th, then the points system isn't really that much different is it?
I really hope I'm wrong about this. I truly am. I want to see these guys in the Nationwide Series win races, and get noticed. But I don't see how that is possible. NASCAR made the point system change so that those guys could win the Nationwide Title, and get noticed. But in reality, winning races is what gets you noticed. Look at David Gilliland in 2006. He won a race with his family owned car in the Nationwide Series, and suddenly there he was in a CUP CAR.
If NASCAR really wants to give the guys in Nationwide a chance, they need to come up with something more than the "no points for non-declared drivers." Limited starts would probably be the easiest. But sponsors won't be too kind to the idea that they can't use a marquee Cup driver as often as they'd like. That is the reason Cup guys run in the series anyway. Sponsors get to have a big name in their uniform, and in their car, for much cheaper than it is to sponsor a Cup car. And you still get to use them in commercials, promotional material, and all the like that Cup sponsors get to do. And NASCAR will never tell a sponsor it can't do something, unless its a mobile service provider, a fuel company, an insurance company....well, you get the point.
But as I was saying, I really don't know if the Nationwide Champion is going to go to victory lane this year. I know it's only been two races, but I'm going off the past half decade collectively when making this assessment. And its a shame.