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Points system changes another example of NASCAR not grasping the real issues

By admin | January 23, 2011

By Richard Allen


In case you haven’t noticed, NASCAR and its soldiers are working hard to convince everyone that the rumored changes to the championship points system are good for the sport. However, if you keep up with this form of racing at all there is no way you haven’t noticed the recent publicity blitz.

During last week’s test session at the Daytona International Speedway, drivers, officials and broadcasters took turns behind the microphone explaining that the proposed system of awarding 43 points to a race winner and giving one point less for each descending position is an improvement over the current system because of its simplicity. As the explanations went, smaller numbers are easier for the common folk to understand and thus will make for a better system.

Apparently the offices in Daytona Beach have been inundated with phone calls, e-mails and letters of exasperated fans who were unable to grasp the old format. These mathematically challenged racing viewers were no doubt clamoring for ease of addition and subtraction so that they could better understand how the system works.

Everyone from Darrell Waltrip to Mike Helton to Jimmie Johnson told all who would listen in Daytona and beyond that the new points system about to be employed by NASCAR would be better because of those smaller numbers.

The trouble with all the reassurance that we will all be able to handle the math is that no one really explained exactly what the system would consist of.

When the information was first leaked there was no mention of any bonuses for leading or winning. The new system was simply going to be a straightforward 43 to 1 format. However, when a number of folks sat down and actually applied that much easier math it became apparent that such a system would actually discourage racing for wins and encourage settling for ‘good points days’.

Suddenly, word is beginning to trickle out that when NASCAR Chairman Brian France addresses the media this coming Wednesday he will state that the new system may include bonus points for race winners as well as Chase for the Championship rewards for those who have won races during the ‘regular season’.

President Mike Helton admitted last week in Daytona that there is still some tweaking being done. It’s funny how all of those drivers and broadcasters were so quick to praise a new system that hasn’t even been set yet.

Had it not been written and spoken in a number places that there needed to be more emphasis on winning races than just earning one point more than second place I believe the 43 to 1 system would have been enacted as originally stated. The reason I say that is once the numbers were run using the 43 to 1 system it was realized that Jimmie Johnson would have beaten Kevin Harvick by only a single point in 2010. NASCAR officials could envision a ratings boost for the season finale with such a close title fight.

With all that said, I would point out that my issue is not with changing the current points system. I have written a number of pieces advocating exactly that.

My issue with all that has been going on over the past few years in NASCAR is the apparent lack of understanding the sanctioning body has for what is actually needed. They seem to be willing to turn to any sort of quick fix in order to gain short-term ratings boosts rather than long-term solutions to serious issues confronting the sport.

For whatever reason, the leaders of NASCAR seem convinced that fans want close points battles and seem willing to sacrifice individual events for the sake of “points racing”.

The Daytona Beach hierarchy does not seem to believe fans will continue to show up and watch individual races if their favorite driver is out of contention for a championship.

As an example to the contrary, even though he has not made the Chase for the past two seasons would Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s fans have been less excited had he won one of the final ten races in those years?

NASCAR needs to stop making so many reactionary stop-gap changes and focus on the long-term direction of this sport. Such fixes make them look desperate and groping. A boost of two-tenths of a point in the Nielson ratings here or there will be of little benefit if the sport has ceased to exist ten years from now.

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14 Responses to “Points system changes another example of NASCAR not grasping the real issues”

  1. Mike Southern Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Running 5th it should never be said ‘we had a good day’. You didn’t have a good day, you had a mediocre day. But with 43 spots on the grid and a handful of potential winners, 5th can indeed be a ‘good day’. Who cares 43 points and down 175 and down, more emphasis needs to be on the only good day ‘we won’. If a driver wins 6 of the first 30 races, he needs to be way ahead in the points. Far ahead. Strokers should not be rewarded and start and parks should get zero points. Though the money for filling the field. The fact there are start and parkers and likely more this year is indicative of the real issue. Money honey. Not enough of it. Sad commentary, one of the most popular drivers lives on selling his last name and modest past achievements having not cracked the top 20 more often than not. The fix is at the top and not of the points. It is in the corporate suite in Daytona. When the management became more about style and less about substance the allure was lost. When an MBA became a sanctioning body job description. Consider NASCAR opening a Wall Street office as a sign of bad times. Consider the awards banquet in NYC at the Waldorf Astoria. The most vibrant city in the world can’t generate enough interest to build a track guaranteed a date, but has the awards banquet? Cookie cutter tracks, boring racing, the expense of racing and attending, Hydra mega car teams, points racing to satisfy sponsors, the Chase. Not just one of these, but there lies the problem. I don’t care about the points system, I care about great drivers going racing for real and that is gone forever.

  2. Steve Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Drinking the Nascar Kool-Aid at its best from Waltrip, Helton and Johnson. They know where their bread is buttered don’t they.

    You hit the nail on the head. Until Nascar decides that winning the next race is more important to fans than any championship, they will continue to lose fans. Place more emphasis on winning and the fans will come back because the racing will be so much better.

    If this 43-1 points system is put in place, the racing will get worse because it will encourage even more points racing than we have now. Not exactly the best solution to make the sport more exciting

  3. mrclause Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Here’s the scenario, Jr wins two or three races gets the 43 points for each win, Clint finishes second to him each race and he gets the 42 points for each race. Now Jr gets in a wreck or two, has a blown engine or two, a bad handling car, now how far ahead is Clint in the points? How happy are Jr’s fans?

    Go ahead with the 43 point deal it’s simple, but, give 5 points for the pole winner, give 10-15-20 points for the win. Come up with something where a 2-3-4-5 time race winner doesn’t lose everything he’s earned just because he blew an engine or got taken out in a wreck once or twice.

    Daytona just every once in a while needs to really listen to the fans, not the shills that have become useless to the sport. If they don’t want to stoop to actually listen to the fans well, just check their bank deposits. Ain’t what they used to be. Daytona seems to forget that they only have a sport if they have fans.

  4. ginav24 Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Gee, so the real problem is that NASCAR fans can’t do math?

    Funny, I thought the majority of fans just hated the chase, the ugly car,cookie cutter tracks, boring racing and
    poor TV coverage, but I’ve never talked to a fan (annoyed or happy) who said “I just don’t understand this points system”.

    Now I get it, it’s a shame that NASCAR doesn’t.

  5. Keith Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 10:59 am

    The only reason they want to change the point format is to stop the comparisons to to old points format and have us stop counting points by the latford system. If no one counts the latford points the pre chase championship fomat will no longer be talked about giving the Chase legitimacy. They can give us any point system they want but if they reset the points for a playoff it becomes a farce.

  6. The Mad Man Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 11:08 am

    This is just another dumbing down of NASCAR for the appeasement of the Short Attention Span Crowd. True fans who have been following the sport know how to figure out the points.

    One thing that hasn’t been addressed yet or mentioned is how this dumbing down will affect penalties. Will teams still get docked 150 points for a car which doesn’t meet the template requirements? Or 50 points for the wrong air pressures? Imagine Johnson leading by 50 points and suddenly gets hit with 150 point penalty for actions detrimental. Or Dale Jr getting docked 100 points for having a car 1/64th of a inch out of tolerance and it knocks him out of the Top 35.

    If NASCAR thought they had problems before with poor ratings and fans not showing up, just wait.

  7. Charles Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Great article Richard!

    You are so very correct that they still think that fans are wanting a close point title, when that is not the case at all!

    If they are going to make changes let the points help making racing better instead of the other way around!

    Its the Raceday action that needs to be helped, if they would at least give extra bonus points in the mid portains of a race, say in a 500 lap race the leader of the most laps from lap 200 to 400, which is usually the most boring!

    This would in effect put a rabbit in front of the drivers to want to lead instead of ride around!

    Nascar needs to realize that its not how the point title lead is exchanged at the end of the year thats important, its how many times the race lead has been exchanged on that raceday that what counts!

  8. zhills fan Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Getting rid of the IROC type cars will do more good than worrying about the points system. Just why do you need a p oints system and a chase both? The “chase” will NEVER be able to compete with the football, basketball, baseball playoffs anyway. The chase isn’t even a bonified playoff system as long as all 43 cars are competing. Get real MASCAR and lower the price so everyone can afford to go. That goes for the extra charges also.

  9. tjclaus Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    If the chase continues, include Darlington, at least one road course, more short tracks and no more than 4 intermediates. That would lead to the best driver overall winning, not just the best on intermediates.

  10. tyler west Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Here’s one problem. They handed over something that was once great to a total bafoon! Brian France is one of the worst things to ever happen to the sport. A last name should not give one the right to screw something up. Total IDIOT!! There was nothing wrong with it. Now all that has happened is, he has made to where a single “F”ing team gets all they want (Hendrick). It is a damn joke! Safer cars, slower speeds, it’s all B.S.! I remember some fool thinking how he was going to go head to head with the NFL. How has that worked? FOOL!!! The Chase, there is another BAD IDEA and it keeps getting worse. Send him back home to play with his toys. By far the worst person for the job.

  11. Bill B Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I’ve heard people complain about the points system but I have not heard that cited as one of the reasons fans are leaving (because it isn’t). We’re just fine with math. We may want the winner to get a few extra points. We may ask that, if you can’t nix the chase then at least give the chasers their own point system separate from the also-rans.
    So what do we get?…..something even more stupid. Yeah Brian keep fixing the things that aren’t broken but ignore the deafening cries of the fans that have been telling you what needs to be fixed.

  12. Tim J Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Though I’m not an particularily big F1 fan - the one thing F1 has right is the points structure - heavily weighted to the top, with a bigger points gap between positions as you near the win (so that a 1st and a 3rd make more points than a 2nd and another 2nd…) and no points if you finish outside the top 8. Makes everyone go for a win - makes everyone try for the top 8. Minor changes would be needed for NA$CAR as the car counts are way higher, but if it was weighted to the top, with points for only the top 20, then you might actually see some racing. Who cares if a car finishes 21st or 43rd - they still had a BAD day. And it would stop all the BS with half-repaired cars coming out to junk up the show or wreck a leader

  13. sylvia richardson Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 8:26 pm


  14. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    January 24th, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    What to me is a real issue, Rich, is not having enough cars after Bristol, and what else is to me is a real issue is having to come out Midseason and say we have to set the table for 2012 after certain tracks hit the fan. I think once Cup is a World Tour, Bristol, Daytona,Talladega, Charlotte and Texas will always have 2 Races and I think the Brianisms could have been undone had we known better in the 10000 NASDAQ Days of 1999 AND 2000 and when Nas’ “Hate Me Now” Played the Rap Charts. I plead that they need to get real about new sponsors and canning the Family Dog, Brian France.