NASCAR Reportedly on the Verge of Moving To a New Points System for 2011

Hank EptonCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2011

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 11:  (Back row from L-R) The 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase contenders Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Crown Royal Ford, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kellogg's/Cheez-It Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet,  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet, (Front row L-R) Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Caterpilliar Chevrolet,  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet,  Clint Bowyer, driver of the #33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, pose following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2010 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

NASCAR officials are reportedly entertaining an overhaul to the points system that would abandon the traditional system used to track driver performance over the Sprint Cup Season.

According to the Associated Press, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity says that the sanctioning body is considering going to a points system that would award 43 points for a race winner and decrease the points award one point per position.

That would leave the 43rd place finisher with one point.

A discussion of how many bonus points to award for a race win or leading laps is ongoing.

The reported changes to the system would mark the end for the Latford points system, created by NASCAR public relations official and statistician Bob Latford back in 1975.

Over the last several years, the Latford system has met some criticism because of its complexity and cumbersome nature. It has been modified over the years to increase the emphasis on winning but in total the system has remained fundamentally the same for more than 30 years.

Tuesday afternoon on Sirius NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Director of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston confirmed the discussions, and stressed the potential benefit to the fans.

"It's a way to simplify the system," Poston said. "Some of our long time fans still have some confusion about how the current points system works."

Poston also confirmed that any new system would apply to all three national touring series: Camping World Trucks, Nationwide Series, and Sprint Cup.

The Associated Press source also said that NASCAR now is backing away from initial speculation that it would make large scale changes to the 10 race Chase for the Sprint Cup which pares down the field of contenders for the title to 12 drivers.

Several ideas have been floated in the last several months, including a different points system for Chase drivers and expanding the field of contenders to 15 drivers.

Some fans have called for the abandonment of the controversial playoff format in place since 2004.

The system has gone through several tweaks over the years.

In 2007, the field was expanded from 10 drivers to 12 drivers and a bonus points system was implemented that awarded 10 markers for race wins in the first 26 events.

The points reset happens at the conclusion of the fall event at Richmond International Raceway.

There could be a change coming to the Chase though. The top 10 drivers in points would qualify into the Chase and then the last two positions in the Chase field would be reserved for remaining drivers not already qualified on points who have the most wins.

Under the proposed system, Jamie McMurray would have made the Chase by virtue of his two wins prior to the Chase in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman and David Reutimann were the other race winners outside the top 10 in Sprint Cup points after Richmond. They won one race each, and it's unclear what the tiebreaker would be in the proposed system to determine which driver makes it in the Chase.

Poston said on Tuesday the process is ongoing.

"Nothing has been finalized. Our competitors and fans seemed satisfied with how it all turned out last year, but we still have a couple of ideas to work through."

NASCAR has made no official announcement to changes to the points system or the Chase format for the 2011 season. It’s expected that NASCAR would need to announce changes in the next couple of weeks in order to give teams time to plan for the season.

Testing for the 2011 Daytona 500 begins on Thursday, and next week NASCAR CEO Brian France is expected to make announcements concerning the upcoming season in Charlotte.