The New Simpler Point System…Or Not

NASCAR tied very hard to make the point system easier to understand for Joe Fan. Apparently, it didn’t work with the revelation today that Jeff Gordon qualified for at least a wild card entry into the almighty Chase for the championship. Huh? The one point difference in positions was supposed to simplify the standings so that fans could understand where their favorite driver was during the season. Then, NASCAR threw in a curve ball with the wildcard. I guess it sounded like the NFL and MLB, so it had to be good, right?

[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”246″][/media-credit]It has now become so complicated that even those that have followed the sport for years cannot tell you who will be the 11th and 12th qualifiers or even the leaders for those positions right now. It appears that Brad Keselowski will make the short list, but who is the leading candidate for that 12th man? The question usually follows with an answer that it takes algebra, calculus, and solid geometry to solve. Not much different than the old system? Well, at least that system was based on who had the highest points and positions 1-12 were easy to determine. Now? Not so much.

The powers that be meant no harm. They wanted to reward winning and get away from the consistency tag that the point system has always had. They started a few years ago when they created the Chase and watched it become a monster before their eyes. From the first race at Daytona, the Chase talk began and has continued. The final ten races are all that matter. Trying to add a bonus for winning made sense until so many first-timers won. Just like it appeared that the Chase was an answer to Matt Kenseth’s one-win championship, this appeared to be an answer to Jamie McMurray’s dream season of last year. McMurray won three big races and did not make the Chase, so the rules were changed. My guess is that no one will admit that, but it’s pretty clear that NASCAR wanted to include the guys who won races since the Chase had taken most of that emphasis on winning away. And now we have the new system with its confusing wild card addition. Look for more changes next year. Someday, they’ll get it right. Or they’ll go back to Bob Latford’s original system and say the heck with it.

One more comment or two on last week’s races in Bristol. Attendance was light for the Nationwide Series on Friday night, but attendance was good for Saturday night’s Cup race, though not a sellout. There were plenty of empty seats. I think of lot of the reason for this is that the media continues to make comments about how Bristol will be a knock them out race and tempers will flare and all that. That used to be the case, but Bristol is now more like Charlotte. Passing is available on the inside and the outside these days and the one groove track that used to be is gone. That means less beating and banging and less excitement for the fans. That kind of racing is now only found in Martinsville, Virginia. The drivers love the new Bristol and the media is quick to say how much better the racing is on the new surface. They apparently haven’t convinced the fans who pay admission. Just listening to the crowd after the race said it all. They’re not impressed, and that is the bottom line.

Finally, all the talk about Carl Edwards getting his contract with Roush-Fenway behind him and being able to race better isn’t working out. Edwards has been a non-factor in the races since he decided to re-up with RFR, dropping from first in the standings to fourth with fifth-place nipping at his heels. Just goes to show you that these are machines they are piloting and anything can happen in a race. Just ask Brad Keselowski.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


  1. You make it sound like 150,000 people at Bristol Saturday night was a poor attendance number because it wasn’t a sellout. I think people need to accept the fact that most tracks, due to their oversized grandstands, are not going to sell out anymore. Those days are gone. So just because a race isn’t a sellout doesn’t mean attendance was bad. The crowd Saturday night would have filled 2 1/2 Martinsville sellouts so please don’t make it sound like everyone stayed home because it wasn’t a demolition derby like the old Bristol, which seemed to be implied in this article.

  2. Either your opinion of yourself or your opinion of the NASCAR fanbase is very very low. It’s quite simple to figure out with simple addition and the ability to see who, between points positions 11-20, has the most wins. Come on, dude.


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