Monday, May 29, 2006

Racin' thought

Because there aren't many...

After my annual two-race day (I've liked watching both the Indy 500 and the evening NASCAR race on Memorial Day weekend for years - even since before I learned anything about it), I had a thought on how to make the NASCAR points system more competitive. Right now, the rules say that the top 10 in points, plus anyone within 400 points of the leader are the ones to make the 10-race "Chase for the Cup" that they finish the season with. This is the third year of the system, and in both the prior years it's been just the 10 drivers to make the playoff.

The reason for this seems to be the points system itself. So long as the leader manages to stay catastrophe-free, it's almost inevitable that he will add to his lead weekly before the points reset for the playoff race. With the leading team playing pretty safe, they can still wind up with top-10 or top-15 finishes that just don't really hurt too much in the overall standings. So, for instance, unless Jimmie Johnson has an early DNF in one race between now and September, he'll do no worse than maintain the spread for the rest of the "regular season".

My idea is simple: stretch the points gap allowable out to 500 instead of 400 (as of right now, that would allow 2 extra people into the Chase, with 2 more on the bubble), and also increase the points for a win (right now, you get 15 points over 2nd place) to 20 or even 25 - giving more of an incentive to go for a win instead of playing it safe. Maybe even get rid of the "5 points for leading a lap" bonus - all that does is let the multi-car teams make deals with each other to allow each driver to lead and pick up a few points (the Roush drivers do this every race). Make sure incentives (and points) drop off sharply after the top 10 at most.

What should result is a more competitive sport and a more inclusive playoff - which can only help make the sport more watchable. Besides, it's in my interest to have a better sport - my kid likes it so I'd have to watch it anyways!

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