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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New NASCAR Points System...Explained and Compared

The 2011 NASCAR Points system has been announced. Brian France totes the new system as a way to increase competition and make the Points structure easier to understand. Is it easier to understand? Definitely.

Even the most casual fan can understand this after a short explanation. Diehard fans see immediately that it is a very straightforward points structure with no similarities to the old system when the top third was separated by five points, middle third by four points, and lower third by three points per finishing spot. You could figure the old points system in your head but it took a minute or two.

This year you check where your driver finished, subtract that number from 43 (the total number of drivers in the race), add 1 and you know how many points your driver receives. Your favorite driver finished 2nd? 43 - 2 + 1 = 42 points. He finished 32nd? 43 - 32 + 1 = 12 points. 41st place finisher? 43 - 41 + 1 = 3 points.

New Cup Points system:
Points awarded for finishing spot are from 1 to 43 points.
The Winner gets 43 points, last place gets 1 point. Everything in between fills in accordingly (2nd gets 42 points, 3rd gets 41, etc...).
Leading a lap gets you 1 bonus point.
Leading the most laps gets you 1 bonus point.
Winner of the race gets 3 bonus points.

The winner of the race will always either get 47 or 48 points. 43 points for winning + 3 bonus points for winning the race + 1 bonus point for leading a lap = 47 points. If that driver also leads the most laps then the driver receives 1 additional bonus point.

So, how does this compare to the old points system in regard to Brian France's claim of "raising the competition level?" Check this out:

Old Points: Race Winner received 544% more points than last place.
New Points: Winner receives 4700% more points than last place.
(Above stat is based on assumption of the winner receives 47 points scenario and last place does not lead a lap)

Old Points: Winner bonus was 2.7% of winners points.
New Points: Winner bonus is 6.9% of winners points.

Old Points: 2nd place received 91.9% of 1st place points.
New Points: 2nd place receives 91.4% of 1st place points.
(Above stat is based on assumption of the winner receives 47 points scenario and 2nd place leads at least 1 lap)

Old Points: Bonus points for leading a lap or most laps 2.7% of winner points.
New Points: Bonus point for leading a lap or the most laps is 2.1% of winner points, as based on 47 point scenario.

So, although the new points system awards a lesser percentage of bonus points for leading a lap or leading the most laps the new points system does significantly award a higher percentage of points for finishing higher in the field and for winning the race.

At the end of the first 26 races we will still enter Chase mode. The difference is that the top ten in points get a guaranteed spot the Chase. The other two spots are "Wildcard" positions. The 11th and 12th places in the Chase will be determined by the number of wins on the season. Both 11th and 12th place drivers must be in the top 20 in overall standings to be eligible.

Example: If your driver wins three races in the beginning of the season but has four DNFs that cause him to drop out of the top ten in points, he still makes the Chase if he has the most or second most wins of any driver in positions 11 through 20 in the standings.

In my opinion, this will definitely create more competitive racing. A guy can be sitting in 19th position in points after the 25th race because of getting caught up in wrecks, mechanical difficulties, or penalties but if that driver has won more races than the other guys in the 11th through 20th positions he is still in the Chase. Going into that 26th race if one driver in the 11th through 20th positions has won two races and three other guys have won one race each, that is going to make for some hot racing during that last race before the Chase.

Will this increase fan passion for NASCAR? Will it cause more competitive racing? A tighter race to the Chase? We are all going to have to stick around through at least this season and find out. In reality, it may be four or five years before it can be seen whether this change was good, bad, or had no change of viewership, fan passion, and attendance but I do not see this change as a bad thing at all.

Amy McHargue

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