The State of NASCAR: Points System

Our very own SNL will be doing a three part series for site on the state of NASCAR. The first part is on new points system vs. old points system. Second part will be on the issue of full time cup drivers running full time in Busch Series and the final part of the series will be on NASCAR drivers getting full points for using substitute drivers.

In 2003 Matt Kenseth ran away with the Winston Cup championship beating second place finisher Jimmie Johnson by ninety points. This proved to not be a close enough championship finish for the new sponsor of NASCAR's top series, Nextel, as they set out to revamp the points system. The inaugural season of the Nextel Cup saw the institution of the new Chase for the Championship. The Chase for the Championship is a points system that rewards drivers in the top ten in points following the season's first twenty-six races. After the first twenty-six races the drivers in the top ten in standings have their point totals reset so they are within reasonable reach of the points leader. In the inaugural season of the Chase for the Championship Kurt Busch was awarded the Nextel Cup championship. Under the previous points system which had been in place since NASCAR's institution drivers who were consistent throughout the entire season's schedule would be awarded with a championship.

Now a driver, Busch, who would not have been anywhere near the championship had the old system still applied was handed his first career championship. Under the old points system four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon would have won the 2004 championship. In 2005, Tony Stewart won the Nextel Cup championship. Had the old points system been in place Stewart still would have won the championship, but by a much more commanding points deficit. It has been proven that driver's who would have had no chance at winning the championship in the old points system can win in the new point system, as Kurt Busch proved in 2004. Is this right? Should a driver basically "luck" his way into a championship or should a driver win a championship by being consistent throughout an entire season? Each fan has his/her own opinion on what they think the points system should be like. Some fans say that the old points system should have remained in place because of tradition and the fact that it rewarded drivers for being consistent, something all drivers should strive for.

To win the old championship a driver truly had to be great and have the best season among his peers. To win a championship under the new system a driver must only hang around the top ten for twenty-six races and then turn it on over the final ten, or perhaps "luck" into it. Some fans prefer the new system saying that it adds a new excitement to a sport that greatly needed to be spiced up. Whether fans prefer the old points system or the new points system is up to each individual to decide

BY Julian Spivey (SNL)

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