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Is NASCAR’s New Point System a Good Thing?

Posted by chadmusselman on January 30, 2011

NASCAR has finally quit talking about changing the point system and actually done something about it.  Last week they made the announcement that they will now award drivers 43 points for first place, and decrease down to 1 point for 43rd place.  Drivers still get bonus points for leading a lap, and leading the most laps in a race, but it’s only 1 point for each instead of 5.  NASCAR is also giving 3 bonus points for winning a race.

NASCAR also made a change to qualifying for the Chase.  The top 10 are guaranteed a spot, but the 11th and 12th chasers are “wild-cards” and will be the two drivers with the most wins inside the top 20.  Last year this would have been Jamie McMurray (2 wins) and Greg Biffle (wins a tiebreaker against 3 other drivers with 1 win.)

Is the new point system good, and what effects will it have on the season?
First of all, this is a good thing.  The old system was just that; old.  It never made sense to me why the top spots were separated by 5 points, then 4 points for some, then down to a 3 point difference for the bottom feeders.  At least now every fan can know that there’s only 1 point separating each finishing position.  Less confusion is always a good thing.

The most obvious effect it will have on the season is that the points chase will be a lot closer now.  In the old point system there could have been as many as 161 points separating the race winner from the 43rd place car.  In the new system 48 points is the most it can be.

It should have the biggest effect on the Chase for the Cup, keeping more drivers in contention for the title for more races.  Last year was exciting with three drivers having a legitimate chance to win the title.  Think about how 2011 could shape up.  There’s a chance that going into the final race or two of the season up to 5 drivers will have a shot at being the champion.

I also like having the “wild card” drivers qualify for the Chase.  That gives a fighting chance to a driver that has a rough start to the season, but makes a comeback in the summer with a couple of wins.  Giving automatic entries to the top 12 in points was just too many guaranteed spots.  I hope the effect of this is that mid-tier teams get more aggressive and take chances to win the race instead of settling for a top 10 or 15.  We’ve seen too many teams be conservative over the past five years.  I want to see people battling it out to win races again.

How would the 2010 season have played out with this format?
2010 was an exciting year with Jimmie Johnson winning his 5th consecutive title in a very close points chase.  Imagine how much more exciting it would have been with the top three only 7 points apart at the end of the season.  Jimmie still would have won the championship, but Denny Hamlin would have been in 2nd by only 5 points, and Kevin Harvick in 3rd only 7 points behind Johnson.  Below is what the final 2010 standings would have looked like with the new point system.

1st Jimmie Johnson
2nd Denny Hamlin -5
3rd Kevin Harvick -7
4th Carl Edwards -63
5th Matt Kenseth -89
6th Jamie McMurray -94
7th Greg Biffle -110
8th Tony Stewart -113
9th Jeff Gordon -124
10th Kyle Busch -127
11th Kurt Busch -132
12th Jeff Burton -171


With the wild card format Jamie McMurray would have been rewarded nicely for his two earlier season wins, made the chase, and fared pretty well.  He actually did well enough that he would have finished in 6th place. 

What’s your take?  Should NASCAR have made even more changes to the point system or Chase format?


5 Responses to “Is NASCAR’s New Point System a Good Thing?”

  1. […] here: Is NASCAR's New Point System a Good Thing? « Chad's Fantasy NASCAR Share and […]

  2. john said

    it’s better than the old system, but i would put 5 points bonus for a victory, instead of just 3. and maybe a 10 points seed for the leader of the regular season.

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  4. Joel said

    Chad, the most points in a race is 48, not 47. 43 + 1 for leading a lap, +1 for leading most laps, +3 for winning. Can you redo your calculations and see how it turns out for 2010?

  5. Joel, thanks for catching this. I updated the entry to say 48 points is the max that a driver can get. The 2010 standings would remain what I have them as in the post. I actually did give them 1 point if they led the most laps, I just put 47 for the max points instead of 48 for some reason.


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