For the second offseason in a row a NASCAR team has manipulated the owner points system for its own good.
For the second year running that team is Penske Racing.
For the second year it benefits Sam Hornish.
After last year swapping the owner points between Kurt Busch's and Hornish's car, guaranteeing both a spot in opening races as Busch could rely on his Champions' Provisional (that is a totally different rant), they've done it again.
This year the deal involves Bill Davis.
Despite selling his entire racing operations, in a deal that saw the formation of Triad Racing Technologies, Davis is still counted by NASCAR as the owner of the No. 22. The No. 22, driven by Dave Blaney last year finished 31st in owner points, crucially inside the top-35, while Hornish's No. 77, listed under the ownership of Roger Penske, was stuck on the outside looking in, down in 38th place.
So now Penske has brought in Davis as minority owner, presumably securing his name in the all important "owner" column for Hornish's ride. In doing so he brings with him the owner points of the No. 22, so again Hornish finds his way into the top-35 through the back door.
And that's wear the problem lies.
The only thing consistent between the No. 22 in 2008 and the No. 77 this term is the owner. The driver is different, the make of car is different, the sponsor is different, even the team running the car is different.
Now, none of this nonsense would be a problem if NASCAR wasn't sticking by the top-35 rule (again, totally different rant), but while the sport relies on the owner points the sanctioning body needs to have control over how they're used.
If drivers swapped points to guarantee one or the other a chase berth, or worse title the world would be up in arms, yet such blatant shenanigans on the owner points is becoming more and more commonplace.
The only solution I can suggest is the owner points become "team points", with them only being carried over from season to season if the driver, crew chief, team, owner, and manufacturer remain constant.
You're probably thinking "I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times a team stays together like that," and perhaps that's yet another reason to remove the reliance on owner points.