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Gordon’s plight illustrates reason for “points racing”

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.

Topics: Articles |

7 Responses to “Gordon’s plight illustrates reason for “points racing””

  1. Gregg Stephenson Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Points racing is not racing. It has come down to “playing a game” and keeping score. Winning race should win championships, not hiding at the back of the field. Do any of the Ball sports win championships by not working toward the goal of winning? Why should NASCAR be any different? A NASCAR champion should represent the best the sport has to offer. The tracks in the chase should also be the best the sport has to offer. These tracks should test the drivers and teams to the fullest. Talledega, Bristol, Pocono, Darlington, any road course, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Martinsville, and Dover would be an excellent selection of representative tracks to test teams and drivers to their fullest. This sport is not just about the driver. It includes the teams (both at the track and at the shop, the manufacturers, the hauler drivers, the team owners, families and sponsors. Every part of this group should be pushed as hard as possible to let the cream rise to the top. The points system should be reconsidered to reflect all facets of this sport. Let’s figure out a way to abolish points racing. An easy task? No! It isn’t, but a sport as great as NASCAR should have a champion that has been tried and tested to the fullest; not one that hides from the fight to keep from being beat up. And do away with the top whatever number of drivers being in the chase. Mention and show all cars during the race. That is what sponsors pay for and lack of air time is driving them away. Enough said.

  2. jerseygirl Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 7:42 am

    NASCAR instituted the stupid chase and has rejiggered it several times but without doing the thing that would most make sense - a separate points system for the contenders. I don’t like the chase, I think the champion for NASCAR should be decided over the full 36 race schedule, not this half baked deal that you can work just hard enough to get into the chase and then concentrate on the last 10 races for the trophy.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Where’s the Legend, Rich? I miss the old points system and my feelings are, if we had a decent sponsor, we’d not be in this pickle.

  4. Sue Rarick Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I haven’t watched a Chase race this year and don’t have any plans to do so. I am sick of ‘mileage’ races and ‘points’ racing. There is another option to getting used to it, not watching or going to the races.

    It’s darn near against the law for a gal from Tennessee to leave Nascar racing…. but instead of Talledega next year I will be heading to Barber Motorsports in Birmingham next April instead. The Indy car races were a lot more fun to watch.

  5. Steve Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Funny how the points race without the Chase is much closer than with it. Get rid of the Chase altogether and drivers won’t have to worry so much about bad races. It should be about the race that day, like it used to be and the points took care of themselves. The Chase has killed any real racing throughout the year and the grandstands are showing it big time. Trouble is, Nascar has its head so far in the sand that it still can’t figure out why attendance is dropping by the race. Even Talladega had a not so full crowd.

  6. Bill B Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    NASCAR should keep the points system the way it is. Get rid of the chase. Have the championship be based on wins - he who has the most wins is the champion as long as they are in the top ten in points (when the season ends since there will be no chase). Points could be used as a tie-breaker if multiple drivers have the same number of wins. That would force guys to go for the win every week while still needing to amass as many points as possible.

  7. Sue Rarick Says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    @Steve: Add up the costs of Talladega and drivers points racing all year and then compare it to the cost of an Indy race at Barber Motorsports where each driver is concerned with winning.

    Both places are in the Birmingham area and about the same distance from me in Nashville.

    So it’s a choice between drivers racing for wins and drivers going for a good ‘points day’. I’m going for the win spirit. and I’m betting after a good season this past year a lot of folk here are thinking the same way as I am.