Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What if Nascar used the Formula 1 Points System?

Recently we've been hearing a lot of complaints about the quality of the racing in Nascar. Should more points go to the winner to encourage harder racing? Should the Top 35 rule go away? Should teams like Montoya's #42, who have been speaking out loud their intention to "points race" instead of take risks to win, be able to conservatively race and still make the chase? Should teams with a minimum of 1 or 2 wins be automatically entered into the Chase?

Well let's take a look at what the points would be if we used the current Formula 1 points system. This is the current 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system that was designed in 2003, to help balance reliability and consistency to their previously top-heavy way of awarding points.

First off let's breakdown how many finishes each driver had between first and eighth. This table is ranked in order of current points standings:

You can click on the images for bigger versions.

Then let's apply 10 points for each win, 8 points for each second, etc, all the way down to 1 point for each eighth place. Here's that table, and on the left side we see the total points. Notice this table is ranked by the new points standings.

What do we see here? That wins end up being a big deal. Guys like Mark Martin and Kyle Busch would be well in the top 12. Drivers like Montoya would be well out of the top 12, since he only has one top five finish all year.

There would only be 32 drivers that have scored any points. Would we even need a Top 35 rule? Could you just say that anybody with at least 1 or 2 points can qualify for the rest of the season? Would this encourage below-average teams to try to race hard to make into the top 8? Would they take more chances, change pit strategies, stay out and hope for rain, gamble on fuel, etc? Could we see a much wilder set of racing out there, because *everybody* has to get a top 8, and nothing less would matter?

With this points format, would we even need a chase at all? Drivers like Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin are not that far away from Tony Stewart in this points system, and if they got on a hot winning streak, they'd be able to pass him. There would be no season-devastating effects of crashing out of races, so there would be some forgiveness for having a bad day. And guys like Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, who have not been dominant this year, would be well below Tony's points lead. Should they be allowed to have a points reset in the Chase, and get another shot to be a champion? Haven't we gone far enough this season to see that they are *NOT* the dominant drivers this year?

Also, cars who were many laps down would not try to get back on the track just to make laps, "just for points". Do we need them out there going slow, taking up space, holding up the leaders, and potentially causing more accidents? Since they'd never be able to get back into the top 8, there would be no reason to get back on the track. And it would be okay too, since a bad finish wouldn't kill your chances for the title. Our current system hurts you do for doing badly, rather than rewarding you for doing well. Wouldn't we rather have drivers rewarded for doing well, instead of just avoiding a bad finish?

These are some ideas. What do people think? Is this the type of points system that could work in Nascar, reward drivers for racing hard, and help encourage more racing all the time? Do the new standings seem "better" than the old standings? Does it make more sense that Kyle Busch and Mark Martin are in the top 6 here, while Montoya is down in 16th, since he has not been a dominating force at all this year?

I am not saying this is the perfect points system for Nascar - but it could fix a lot of the problems we have. What do you think?

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