Thursday, February 24, 2011

Speak Your Mind: Does Bayne's win show flaw in one-title rule?

Trevor Bayne shows off his 2011 Daytona 500
champion's ring. (
Courtesy of ESPN Inc.)
Trevor Bayne's record-setting Daytona 500 win has spurred much discussion about the new one-title rule that NASCAR implemented this year.

Before the start of the season, NASCAR drivers in each of the top three series had to check a box on their license forms as to which series they would compete for a championship and thus earn points. Bayne, who is running 18 Cup races this season for Wood Brothers, had already checked the box for the Nationwide championship. So even though he won the sport's biggest race, he receives no Sprint Cup points and therefore is not included in the standings. Under the previous system, Bayne would be leading the points.

Bayne does have the option to switch his title preference from Nationwide to Cup, but in doing so he would not receive the points retroactively for his win. Instead, the win would count toward the Chase wildcard provision. However, Bayne has said he intends to stick with Nationwide.

The Sprint Cup points leader is Carl Edwards, who finished second in the Daytona 500 but did not lead a single lap. Because of the new rule, none of the points leaders in the three series currently are the season-opening race winners.

Some questions we are pondering here at Skirts and Scuffs: Does Bayne's win show a flaw in the one-title rule? Does it change the way you had thought about the rule previously? Do you think the race winner of the first race of the season should lead the points, as in the past? Or do you think the rule will work out in the long run (for the series regulars)? Should Bayne should opt for Cup or stay with Nationwide?

Amanda Ebersole: Although I am still torn over the one-title rule, in the case of Trevor Bayne I believe it is a good rule. He needs the additional experience the Nationwide Series will give him before running full time in the Cup Series. Although he did great in the Daytona race, that was only his second Cup race. I would be concerned about him running the full Cup season, and possibly not doing as well, then everyone will want to chastise him.

We now know Trevor has chosen to only run the full season in the Nationwide, and to his credit I think this was a wise decision. Roush Fenway Racing is lacking sponsorship for Bayne, but after his astonishing win at the Daytona 500, I don't see how that will remain a problem any longer.

Summer Dreyer: The change in the points structure was more of an effort to bring more attention to the Nationwide Series (and, to a lesser extent, Camping World Truck Series) regulars who were getting overshadowed by the Sprint Cup Series drivers. I don't think NASCAR (or anyone really) expected a Nationwide Series regular to win the Daytona 500. And, to be honest, they probably won't the rest of the year. I think the points situation in all three series right now is just a product of unpredictable Daytona racing and won't be as big a deal as the year goes on. I think we'll still see a lot of ineligible drivers winning races in the Nationwide Series, but that is to be expected.

As far as Bayne, I think it would be foolish to switch his points to the Sprint Cup Series. Bayne doesn't even have a full schedule lined up for the Sprint Cup Series, and expecting him to remain ultra-competitive in the series would be unfair. Bayne still needs to knock out a few Nationwide Series race wins before we can expect him to do the same thing in Sprint Cup.

Katy Lindamood: The one-series rule was put into effect to give those who otherwise not have a shot at the championship a chance. With Cup drivers dominating both Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series over the past few seasons, something had to be done.

We already know that Bayne and the Wood Brothers team don't have enough funding for the entire season, so him not being at the top of the points standings now isn't a big deal. The only way this could be a potential issue is if they secure funding for the other races before the Chase begins and if they are able to perform consistently over the course of the season.

How things will work out in the long run with the new points system and the one series rule is anyone's guess. It's foolish to think we can predict how the season will unfold with only one race in the books and so many factors playing into a driver/team having a good weekend. If the past is any indication, it will take a couple of weeks for the points to sort themselves out and for an accurate assessment of the system to be made.

As for Bayne choosing to keep his declaration for Nationwide, this is a wise decision. While there is no doubt Bayne surprised many with his drafting abilities at Daytona last weekend, we've seen several drivers move up into the Cup Series too quickly and not have the expected results. Choosing to change his declaration now would possibly hurt his focus on the Nationwide Series, where he has a better chance of winning the title.

Rebecca Kivak: The one-title rule was implemented to put the focus back on regulars in the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series. In both series, Sprint Cup drivers have dominated many of the races, and in Nationwide they’ve had a stranglehold on the championship. I still believe NASCAR made the right call in making the rule to put these series, particularly Nationwide, back in the hands of its regulars, and I think the points in each series as they stand now – with a regular sitting on top - reflects that.

The standings may look quirky because the race winner in each series – Michael Waltrip in trucks, Tony Stewart in Nationwide, and Trevor Bayne in Sprint Cup – is not leading the points, but none of them were scheduled to run the full season, anyway. Even though that was the way things were done in the past, I would find it strange to see Waltrip or Stewart as the points leader knowing each was only set to run one race (or a handful, at the very least) in that particular series this year. I’d automatically look to see where the highest series regular fell. Now, however, with the new rule, NASCAR has sorted it out for me and that driver is already sitting on top of the points.

I think the race winner not leading the points, because of the one-title rule, is a temporary blip in the system. After all, we’re only one race into the season. As we’ve seen in years past, I think the points will sort themselves out accordingly in each series as the season goes on. And as the year goes on, we will be able to better assess the effectiveness of the new rule.

As for Trevor Bayne, he and the Wood Brothers increased their Cup schedule by one race, making it 18, after his win, but because of funding, they were prepared to run only part of the season, anyway. As big a deal as it would be for Bayne to lead the Cup points, he had made the decision to take the time to develop in Nationwide, and knowing his options, he has still chosen to stick with his original decision. I think this is a wise choice.

Clearly Bayne was solid throughout Speedweeks. Winning in only his second Cup start – the Daytona 500, no less – at the age of 20 is a huge accomplishment, no matter how you look at it. But we’ve seen a lot of drivers be rushed into Cup full-time, denying them the chance to develop and instead face a set of expectations that perhaps didn’t fit with their level of development. Bayne even said himself on NASCAR Now: “We’ve got to keep our expectations in check. This isn't going to happen every weekend, even though we want to win every weekend.” In my opinion, Bayne made the right decision to stick with Nationwide, where he has a better chance at winning a championship, before making the jump full-time to Cup.

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