By admin | November 16, 2011
By Richard Allen
Before the 2011 season began NASCAR Chairman Brian France announced that the points system used by the sanctioning body since the early 1970s would be replaced with a new system. That system would accomplish two things.
First, according to France, the new scoring arrangement would create a tighter championship battle and provide fans and competitors with a ‘Game 7’ type finale. With Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart only separated by three points going into the season ending race at the Homestead- Miami Speedway on Sunday, it would be hard to argue that the new system did not deliver.
Second, France assured everyone listening to his pre-season press conference that winning would carry more weight. The phrase “A good points day” was to be a thing of the past due to the fact that a bonus would be given to race winners that would serve to separate them from the pack.
In the 43 to 1 system, a three point bonus is added for winning a race. Also, a one point addition is given for leading a lap which means the minimum amount a top finisher could achieve would be 47. One more point can also be added for leading the most laps which could bring the winner’s total to 48. Potentially, a race winner can earn as many as six points more than the runner-up.
While all of that gives the appearance that race champions do indeed have the opportunity to distance themselves from the pack in the championship standings, the results of this year’s Chase for the Championship seem to indicate otherwise.
A quick look at the nine races held so far in the playoff shows that Stewart has won on four occasions in that time period while Edwards has not won a single Chase event. So, Stewart is way ahead in the standings, right?
Well, as stated earlier, Stewart actually trails Edwards by three points going into the 2011 finale. Coming into the Chase, Edwards had one win and Stewart had none. Winning a ‘regular season’ race provided a three point bonus per victory after the points were reset. That addition essentially provids Edwards with his current advantage.
Over the course of the nine Chase races, Edwards has been remarkably consistent. He has had no finish worse than 11th in that time. However, he has not managed a win in those races.
Stewart, on the other hand, has scored those four previously mentioned Chase victories. However, he has not matched Edwards’ consistency. In particular, a 25th in Dover and a 15th in Kansas have sabotaged his efforts.
But if winning was to mean more under this new system, shouldn’t four wins overcome one poor finish and one mediocre result? Well, obviously, winning races has not proven to be as much of a boon as was portrayed by France’s speech.
Of my friends who are not close followers of NASCAR, one of their most frequently asked questions is “Why is there not more of a reward for winning?”
Obviously, that question has not been sufficiently answered if one driver can win almost half the Chase races and still trail a driver who has not won a single playoff race. That is especially true when it is taken into account that that the driver to have won those four races has not had an abundance of disastrous results in his other races.
Consistency should be rewarded in racing. However, there should be a significant incentive for winning races. The current standings in this year’s Chase indicate that this has not been the case.
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