This new Chase format changes everything; when it comes to trying to predict next year.

Normally, we get to this time of year, following the season finale, and we're all into trying to handicap next year's contenders. Take 2013, for instance, at this time a year ago, we were debating the chances of Jimmie Johnson matching the seven titles of Earnhardt and Petty.

Now? If asked, I'd be willing to put together a top 8, but predict the champion? No way.

Can Kevin Harvick repeat? Sure. But after seeing what happened to the likes of Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch in the Chase, I'm not willing to tab Harvick as the favorite.

When NASCAR started having a Chase, Jeff Gordon predicted that you'd have more chances to win the title (since, at the time, 10 drivers made the post-season), but that it would be tougher to win it as you'd have to be really good for those 10 races.

Now, that is magnified. We learned this year, that one bobble in any of the first nine Chase races could cost you a shot at the title. And, that, at Homestead, even second place may not be good enough.

If you like your life to be orderly and predictable, this format is not for you. There's no skipping to the last page to find out how the book ends. You've got to read this book end-to-end, and you still won't likely know, until the last page, whodunit.