Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Speak Your Mind: Possible Points Changes

Earlier this week an Associated Press article got us thinking about the current points system used by NASCAR to determine the champion. Is the current points system broken? If it is broken will a straight points system as proposed work? How would bonus points be awarded? Would there be more emphasis on consistency than before? Today our contributors tackle that question and more in the latest Speak Your Mind .


Holly Machuga: This is a brilliant way for NASCAR's points system to make sense to your average fan or viewer. Before, the points system was difficult to understand if you did not sit down and actually read about it. 

If this plan did go into effect, drivers that were "points racers" in the past may find it a bit more difficult to clinch a spot in The Chase. Drivers that win quite a bit, such as Denny Hamlin (eight wins in 2010), would find it a lot easier to rack up their points and find themselves in the top 12 when it comes down to Chase time.
In my opinion, they should keep their points rules for those who lead a lap and lead the most. It would just be easier for those of us who are used to the old points system. They should also include a bonus for the drivers who win the pole, not just if they lead the first lap.

As for Jimmie Johnson ... I am not sure that anything can stop him from winning a championship. These points may not effect anything for the 48 team.

Molly Horn: This system would work better for drivers who are consistent instead of the drivers who win one and aren't in the top 10 other weeks. Say one driver gets 25-30 points every week while another wins a race, but then has trouble with their car a couple weeks in a row placing them in the back. Who do you think is going to be higher in points? Having the points work this way will put emphasis on consistency, which is what drivers need to win a championship. 

Genevieve Cadorette: I'm not so sure how I feel about this; I believe how well you run during the entire  race is important. Sometimes you lead laps then you lose; other times you stink during the entire race and somehow got lucky and made it the front. I believe bonus points for winning the pole is important and how you position for the start of the race should be considered as well. I also think there should be points awarded for leading laps. Sure, it does seem easier to understand when you give points to the winner and whomever is in the back gets the least points, but those shouldn't be the only points awarded.

Give the race winner 43 points, but don't forget for giving points to the pole winner and the drivers that led laps and points to the driver that did lead the most laps. 


Katy Lindamood: All I can say is “it’s about damn time.” NASCAR has been “my sport" for nearly 20 years and over that time I have seen many changes. Some of these changes have left me scratching my head wondering what on earth they were thinking. Others make sense when you consider the massive growth seen over the last two decades and how the sport has had to change with the times to meet the demands of the fans, drivers, and owners.

Hearing that there is a chance NASCAR might change how points are awarded gives me hope. For years I’ve been saying that the current way points are handed out just doesn’t make sense. It’s far too complicated and the typical fan (the guy who won’t be reading this because he only gets his info from the “News and Notes” section of the pre-race coverage) doesn’t know how it really works. To him it seems as if the points are arbitrarily awarded, otherwise how could a guy who wins multiple races not make it into the “playoffs?”

In my opinion a straight points system that awards 43 points to the first place finisher, 42 to the second place finisher and so on just makes sense. You don’t need a math degree or a graph showing the break-down of points to figure out how many points your favorite driver earned that weekend. In terms of awarding bonus points for leading the most laps, or leading even one lap that’s where it gets tricky. Drivers should definitely receive bonus points for leading the most laps, but for leading one lap? That might be a bit much. I’ve always found it odd that drivers who only lead one lap are given the same number of bonus points as drivers who lead 100 laps. Sure the guy who leads the largest percentage of the laps should be rewarded but should we really be rewarding a driver who lucked into leading one lap under caution before once again falling to the back of the pack when green flag racing resumed? Something about that just doesn't seem right.

Regardless of what changes are made now or in the future I’m still going to be a fan, but in regards to this proposed change I say kudos to NASCAR for finally understanding that simpler is sometimes better.


Rebecca Kivak: The proposed 43-to-1 points system would simplify how points are distributed, making the system easier to understand, which is a good idea. But it doesn’t emphasize winning - which I have a big problem with.

In regard to simplifying the points, I like that NASCAR is trying to flex its creative muscles and develop an easier system. I’ve been calling for NASCAR to keep the criteria for the Budweiser Shooutout simple, so I see and appreciate that they’re trying to simplify the points system. For the most part, I do understand the current system. But I’ve been in the position of having to explain it to non-fans and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. I develop a headache as they look at me with confused expressions.

There are also issues I’ve come across in the current system that have made me scratch my head. A big gripe I had was at the beginning of the 2010 season, when Jimmie Johnson had won three out of the first five races. At that rate, wouldn’t you think he’d be leading the points? Well no, he wasn’t – he was ranked third, behind Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth, neither of whom had won a race at that point. That right there told me that wins were not being weighed enough.

And that brings me to my biggest complaint about the proposed points system – it doesn’t emphasize wins. Under the new system, the race winner would receive 43 points and second-place would get 42, with the winner possibly receiving a 3-point bonus. In the current system, the race winner gets 185 points, with 10 bonus points possible through leading a lap (5) or the most laps (an additional 5), while the second-place driver gets 170 points, with up to 10 bonus points possible. The ratio between first- and second-place in the proposed system is actually less than that in the current system, which tells me the new system values consistency rather than wins - even moreso than the current system.

Ideally, I think you need a mix of consistency and wins to compete for the title, but the balance should be shifted more in favor of wins. After all, the point of racing is to win, not to collect top 5s. The proposed changes would actually encourage points racing because there’s less incentive to win.

In addition to the proposed points system changes, there is talk the Chase would be tweaked to include the top 10 in points and to reserve the last two spots for those drivers with the most wins not already in the Chase. I think this is a good move, but it’s not enough if you’re going to switch to a points system that doesn’t reward more for wins.

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