The Final Word – NASCAR is back, but what gives with that points system?

A new season dawns upon us this weekend, with the Clash at Daytona this Saturday, to be followed by Sunday qualifying for the Daytona 500. After a couple of months sitting around watching world events and gleefully upsetting some with my witty political commentary, it is back to things involving gears and grease. So, much happen since we last chatted?

A new points system; well, that ought to be great. Right? Wrong. Let me illustrate. Bob finishes first after the first 60 laps of the Daytona 500. He gets 10 points for doing so. Bob is sitting first after 120 laps. He gets another 10 points. Bob finishes the race, lap 200, in 21st. Bob gets an additional 16 points. Then there is Bill. He finishes the first segment in 11th. No points for Bill. Same thing after the second segment. Then over the final laps of the race, Bill is right up there challenging for the win. Bill falls just short. Bill gets 35 points for finishing second. Bob, when you add it all up, finishes 21st yet he has 36 points, one more point than Bill, who finished the race in second. Sounds just bloody wonderful. What is not to like, eh?

Pardon me, but I am Canadian, which not only explains the “eh” but also my apology. The Duels will award from 1 to 10 points to the top 10 finishers in each race to count in the season standings. There are changes to how playoff points are awarded, but more on that later. It still comes down to win a race, more than likely make the Chase, and that is all that matters for the moment.

No Canadians among Cup drivers. No Tony Stewart. No Jeff Gordon…but didn’t we say that last year? No Greg Biffle, at least for the time being. No Carl Edwards. No one seems exactly sure if he is just sitting one out or looking for a seat in the U.S. Senate. I wonder how secure Sen. Claire McCaskill, who comes up for re-election in 2018, is feeling these days?

We have Clint Bowyer back in a real car, replacing Stewart. Daniel Suarez sits in for Edwards. Chris Buescher kind of replaces Biffle, in a car with ties to Jack Roush and JTG Daugherty Racing. Erik Jones sits in a brand new ride as the long-awaited teammate for Martin Truex Jr. Oh, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is back from his medically enforced vacation. That pretty much covers those who matter…at least those who matter at the moment.

Wreck a car, park a car. No new shiny noses. No new rear or side panels. You have five minutes to fix the beast on pit row, and if that does not do the trick, a driver’s day is done. Bad news for him, great news for those poor sots back in the garage. If the car is wrecked, it is Miller Time.

Sorry. I mean, Monster Energy time! Sprint hung up, and now we have a new title sponsor. Of course, for me it was Cup and it remains Cup. If you raced five years in Cup, you are limited to just 10 races in the junior circuit and seven in the trucks this season. They race none of those circuits’ Chase races. See, not all changes are bad. Some are downright about time.

Still, that points system kind of sucks. Maybe it is just me. By the way, it is good to have you back.

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

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


  1. You forgot the boys in the booth trying to tell us where the drivers stand if the race were to end now.

    I’m to understand that 20 drivers will start the 500 with points and 20 will have no points.

    I was of the understanding a few years ago that they were trying to make the sport less complicated for the fans.

    I do applaud the 5 minute rule. I’ve always thought that allowing cars many laps down to be out there dumb. However not one writer has mentioned that this will cut out the payback for those who feel they were wrecked unfairly by another driver.

    Enjoyed your article.


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