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NASCAR: Actually Making Wins Count

This year's race to the Chase is lacking drama.

A lot has been said in recent months about “tweaking” the Chase For The Sprint Cup. I, for one, am a fan of the idea of having some kind of playoff system in place. However, I think there are a few things that can be done that won’t involve completely overhauling the current Chase yet making the entire season and the Chase itself more exciting. Winning needs to be more important than “not failing”.

Here is how the current point system stacks up:

1st: 185, 2nd:170, 3rd: 165, 4th: 160, 5th: 155, 6th: 150, 7th-11th from 146 on down in intervals of 4, and 12th on back starting at 130 decreasing by 3 for each position. Also, any driver that leads at least one lap gets 5 bonus points and the driver that leads the most laps gets a total of 10 bonus points.

The problem that currently faces NASCAR is that drivers are willing to settle for decent finishes because in the long run, there really isn’t much incentive to go after those few points in front of them. Yes, NASCAR adds 10 bonus points for each win you have when you get to the Chase, but if you don’t make the Chase or you crash out of the first Chase event, it did you absolutely no good.

Here’s what I would do to fix it. First of all, I believe the initial Chase standings should be set by the positioning of the drivers in the point standings after the 26th race as it used to be. Instead of 5 point increments as it was initially set, I’d make it 10. This would make the regular season matter. The point leader after race 26 should still be the point leader once the Chase begins and they should still have some kind of advantage to reward their success throughout the season.  This is essentially giving the point leader a 110 point lead over 12th place going into the first race.

The change I’d make would be how points should be awarded on an individual race basis. Right now a driver receives 185, 190, or 195 points for winning a race. They can only earn 10-25 more points than the second place finisher. If we want better racing in NASCAR, we want the stakes to

Brad Keselowski. Not exactly "man's best friend".

be higher. If we really want boys to have at it, there needs to be an incentive to actually have at it other than your last name being Keselowski.

Under my idea of a point system, the winner should receive a base of 300 points with their 5 or 10 bonus points added to that.

The second place finisher would receive 250 points (plus bonus); third place would receive 225 (plus bonus); a fourth place finish would bring 200 points and finishing 5th would earn 175. From there on back, I’d leave things the same (6th=150, 7th=146, etc.).

This method for distributing points would not only encourage an 8th place driver to race much harder to get up to 5th, but the 4th place driver could earn an extra 100 points by taking more chances trying for the win. Not only would this place much more emphasis on winning, it would encourage more intense racing. A poor finish could almost be offset by winning the next week, depending on how everyone else finished.

In today’s NASCAR, a DNF hurts much more than a win helps, especially in the Chase. Under this system, a driver could take more risks, try harder to move up from 9th to 5th, 6th to 3rd, 4th to 1st, etc. It would be much easier to overcome poor finishes by going out and racing for wins rather than winning three races and being nowhere near winning the championship at the end.

Needless to say, this system would place more emphasis on winning and finishing in the top 5 rather than ruining someone’s championship chances by crashing out while running well and trying to nickel and dime their way back into contention.

Under this system, it would be much tougher to clinch anything with a couple races to go as there are more points on the table, and a driver could still come from almost nowhere to make the Chase or even the championship. Even if a driver went in to Richmond or Homestead with a 100 point lead, he would need to finish at least 4th to hold his position as opposed to riding around mid-pack to simply stay out of trouble, as is shaping up this year.

Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have talked about winning the championship without winning a race. This doesn’t seem right. Under this new point system, it would be much tougher to win a championship without winning a race and it would be easier to win a championship by winning many races. This system would place a big emphasis on winning without destroying the idea of consistency. If you’re consistent with wins like Kevin Harvick this year, you’re sitting in a great position in the Chase. If you have wins and great finishes but lack the consistency (like Jamie McMurray), you’d at least be in a much better position to make the Chase, but wouldn’t shoot towards the top of the points once the Chase went into effect.

Champions and Chase Drivers should have to truly earn their rewards by winning and finishing up front rather than watching everybody falter enabling them to simply cruise to 7th place finishes. Any driver within 150 or 200 points of making the Chase or winning the Championship going into each final race would still be considered legitimate contenders. As of right now, that number is closer to 30 or 40.

Like any system, there are disadvantages, but I believe this would be a good start that NASCAR should certainly look into – more exciting racing, more exciting championship battles, more fans in the stands, and more people watching on television. This may be just my opinion, but I think this makes sense.

Please let me know what you think or what you would change!


One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Brincks, Nick Brincks. Nick Brincks said: NASCAR: Actually Making Wins Count: http://wp.me/pOKKF-4r […]

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