By admin | October 8, 2012
By Richard Allen
A couple of years ago when NASCAR announced that is was changing the points system it had used for decades, the sanctioning body used the reasoning that the new system would make the math easier for fans to understand. While the system now in place may have done that, it has at the same time made comebacks from a bad race much more difficult.
Ask just about any fan of the sport to list the most hated phrases associated with modern day NASCAR and the two most likely answers are bound to be “points racing” and “good points day”.
The 2012 Chase for the Championship effort of Jeff Gordon helps to illustrate why drivers and teams do indeed place so much emphasis on points racing. On week one of the playoff, Gordon suffered a stuck throttle which resulted in a crash. He finished 35th in that race. Since then, the #24 has finished 3rd in New Hampshire, 2nd in Dover and 2nd in Talladega.
Gordon’s issue in Chicago could not have been helped whether he was “points racing” or not. But on many occasions it can be seen that drivers are unwilling to take risks for fear of suffering a problem and losing multiple positions. I realize Sunday’s race in Talladega and its last lap crash may seem to run contrary to my arguement here but restrictor plate racing is an entirely different animal from the other 32 races on the schedule.
Even with three consecutive top-5s, Gordon has only been able to make his way back to 6th in the overall Sprint Cup standings. He is an almost insurmountable 42 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
Of course, the consistently strong runs by Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin would make it difficult under any system to comeback from a large deficit. However, this system of essentially granting a difference of one point per position increases the difficulty.
Under the previous system, there was a graduated drop off in the points awarded as finishing positions dropped further through the field. As a result, there was less punishment for one poor finish. Now, the punishment for one poor finish in a ten race playoff is considerable.
When the Chase first came onto the scene, it was often said that each driver vying for the Sprint Cup title would receive one “Mulligan”, meaning by that golfing term that each competitor could afford one poor finish. In 2012 under the system as it is now, Jeff Gordon is proving that is no longer the case.
The Chase for the Championship combined with a points system that severely punishes for one bad result makes it easy to see why points racing has become all the rage. So sorry fans, but expect to hear those two hated phrases much more often.
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