NASCAR Sprint Cup Points Changes: 10 Reasons It Can Only Hurt the Sport
It has been widely speculated for weeks, that NASCAR is planning on implementing a new points system for the upcoming season. An official announcement will be made on Wednesday, but it is assumed that the points system will change from its current format to one where the winner would receive 43 points, with each position earning one point less, all the way down to 43rd place, which would be worth a single point.
While there is no doubt that the new proposed point system would simplify things at least a little bit, it wouldn't all be rosy. Just like any other changes, there are always pluses and minuses. While I would personally be in favor of something similar to what is being discussed, I will look at 10 reasons why the new points system might not be such a great thing after all.
1. No Emphasis On Winning
John Harrelson/Getty Images
Every driver wants nothing more than to drive their car into victory lane, and hoist the big shiny trophy at the end of the race. But when the celebration comes to an end, I think that every driver would also like the satisfaction of an added bonus in the points department after collecting a win.
That is the biggest problem with the new proposed system. If it stands as nothing more than a 43 to 1 points hand out, there is no bonus for winning races. And winning races was supposed to be a big emphasis the last time NASCAR adjusted the points. At that point, the race winner was given an additional 10 points as a bonus.
It only seems logical that the driver that wins the race, should be rewarded in every possible way, and extra points would be just what the doctor ordered as it pertains to making, or not making the Chase.
2. No Bonus For Leading Laps
John Harrelson/Getty Images
Along the same lines as not getting any bonus points for winning, there appears to be an absence of bonus points for leading laps as well.
I was always a firm believer that NASCAR needed to change how they awarded points for leading laps, but I was never in favor of having those bonus points scrapped all together. Once again, leading laps, much like winning a race, should be rewarded.
Let's throw out a hypothetical scenario. What if in the second race of the season at Phoenix, Carl Edwards were to win the pole. Then, in dominating fashion he led every lap of the race and went to victory lane, winning by 12 seconds over Jeff Gordon.
Under the proposed plan, not only does he receive zero extra points for winning the race, but he would also receive nothing extra for being the dominant car, and the only driver to lead the field. This is yet another case where some sort of bonus points need to be handed out.
Even if you only want to give bonus points to the driver who leads the most laps during the event. That would be better than nothing.
3. It Will Once Again Benefit Consistency Versus Winning
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
This kind of goes hand in hand with a lack of extra points for winning races, but as it stands right now, being consistent would seemingly go further than winning a few races, but also having a few tough races.
Let's throw out another hypothetical scenario. Let's say that with four races to go in the season, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are tied for the championship lead. Then over the course of the final four races, Busch wins two races and finishes 35th in the other two.
Meanwhile, Kenseth finishes 15th in all four of the races. Which one of those two would be more worthy of the championship title? The one who won two of the final four races, or the one who was just able to hang in there with consistency?
Well, under the old scoring system, Busch would score 486 points to Kenseth's 472, making him the champion. Under the proposed system, Kenseth would outscore Busch 116 to 104 over the course of those same four races. Once again giving the championship to the driver who was most consistent, and not necessarily a driver that went out and won races, like was supposed to be the case when NASCAR implemented the Chase.
4. It Adds No Excitement to The Chase
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
NASCAR instituted its Chase for the Championship, as its form of a playoffs. It was done to add excitement to the end of the season, when it was in head to head television competition with the NFL.
Through the first seven years of the Chase, NASCAR has come up with new rules, and new ways of trying to spice up not only the regular season, but the Chase, all in an effort to attract new fans.
They added two additional drivers to the Chase, there was the addition of double file restarts, and there was even the green-white-checkered finish, an attempt to make sure that fans saw races end under green flag conditions.
All of these have provided a spark to the competition, and created some sort of buzz, but changing the points system doesn't do that. While it does seem much simpler and easier to figure out, it still won't attract any new fans, which is something that NASCAR could really use right now.
5. There Is No Need To Change The System
Bill Hall/Getty Images
I guess the biggest question that I have concerning the new points system, is why? What exactly is the real point of doing this?
I fully understand that a 43 to 1 point system is far simpler than what we have right now. In fact, sometimes it seems you have to have a mathematics degree in order to figure out the current points, but there is still no need to change it.
The reason I say that is because I don't know any NASCAR fan that sits down to watch a race with a printed out version of the current points, and as soon as the checkers wave, is trying to calculate the new up to the second points.
The broadcast of the race is constantly airing in race points standings "as they run", and immediately after the race is over, the new up to the second standings are shown right on the television screen.
So, whether you understand the old points system or not, is really irrelevant. With so many different ways to find out the most current points standings, you don't need to know how the points are doled out, because someone else is going to figure them out and publish them for the world to see anyway.
It's kind of like a quarterback rating in the NFL. You might not know exactly how to figure it out, but you know that the higher the number, the better off you are.
6. Losing Tradition
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
I fully understand that NASCAR is doing everything they can to acquire new fans, but at some point they need to remember about all of the older fans that have helped to get them where they are today.
By that, I mean the traditionalists. There are a lot of NASCAR fans that have been around the sport for 30 plus years. These are the folks that grew up with the likes of Richard Petty, David Pearson, and the Allison family.
These fans have seen more changes than some of us combined. And in recent years, there have been changes to almost every aspect of the sport. We have transitioned to the car of tomorrow and then back again. There has been the addition of the Chase. Double file restarts are fairly new to the sport. And don't forget about green-white-checkered finishes. Not to mention the improvement on that rule, by adding multiple attempts at green-white-checkers.
For some of the older fans, the biggest change was just in the names of the series. For a long it was always the Winston Cup. Now it has changed from Nextel to Sprint. And the Nationwide Series was always the Busch Series.
Throughout all of these changes, one thing remained constant. And that was the way the points were handed out. Now, NASCAR wants to change that too. At some point, the old time fans are just going to get sick of all the changing, and give up on the sport altogether.
7. What About The Owner's Points?
Jason Smith/Getty Images
While the new points system works out nicely for the drivers championship, what about the owner's championship? Will it follow the same system?
The big problem here is the cars that don't qualify for the race. Under the current rules, even cars that fail to make the race at least receive points toward the owners championship, but that can't be the case under the new rules.
If last place in the race awards one point, it wouldn't be fair to award the same amount of points to a car that did not qualify for the event. If cars don't receive owner's points even if they miss the race, will that have any impact on how many cars show up to attempt qualifying?
While the issue of owner's points may not have been considered in the rules change, it is an issue that would need to be addressed at some point.
8. Confusion Over The Non Cup Regulars
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Along with a proposed new points system, there is the new rule that limits drivers to run for just one championship. While a driver can only collect points in one series, they are still free to run races in other series, but will not be awarded any points.
So, how will this show up on the score sheet? Trevor Bayne is scheduled to run approximately half the season for the Wood Brothers in the No. 21 in the Sprint Cup Series. While it is still yet to be determined, I would assume that he will be collecting points in the Nationwide Series, so how will this affect what he does in the Sprint Cup Series? And furthermore, will he be eligible to collect rookie of the year points since he is not running for Sprint Cup points?
The other question surrounding this issue, is what if Trevor Bayne finishes 20th at Daytona and Juan Montoya finishes 21st. Obviously, if Bayne is running for Nationwide points, he would receive no points for his efforts. But what about Montoya? Does he get 21st place points, or would he, along with everyone behind him, get bumped up and thereby receive 20th place points?
I would assume that everyone receives the points for whatever position they actually finish in, but you can't tell me that trying to differentiate which drivers are running for which series' points is going to be easy for a new fan.
9. Too Many New Rules Too Close To The Start of The Season
Jerry Markland/Getty Images
While I give NASCAR credit for trying to improve the sport, and doing everything they can to make it easier to follow, they are getting at the point where it is getting too close to the season starting to not have all of the new rules in place.
In their defense, the NASCAR offseason isn't very long to begin with, so it's not like they have loads of time to implement all of these new rules, but it seems like every day they have another new rule they are considering, and we are inside of four weeks before speedweeks begins.
I just worry that with all of the new rules changes, at some point NASCAR's credibility might become an issue. If you are constantly changing the rules year after year, people are going to start questioning what is going on. And if you are constantly changing the way you crown the champion, the new points system included, people may even start questioning the validity of the champion himself.
10. More Pressing Issues
Jared C. Tilton /Getty Images
The fact that NASCAR is in a little bit of a slump in not much of a secret anymore. This past season saw television ratings decline for most of the races, including nine out of 10 of the races in the Chase.
On top of declining television ratings, attendances at the track are also down. When you watch a race on television, and they pan the crowd, it seems that every other seat is empty.
While a lot of that is out of NASCAR's hands, and all they can do is put out the best product and hope that the fans either show up, or tune in to see it. Still, it seems that their efforts would be better suited in trying to improve the on track performance first, and once the fan base returns, then you can turn your efforts to things such as a new points system.