OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM NASCAR:
‘CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP’ CREATED FOR NASCAR NEXTEL CUP
NASCAR modifies how premier series champion is determined
NASCAR announced today a modification in how the champion of its premier series is determined, creating a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup “Chase for the Championship” covering the last 10 races of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.
“The Chase for the Championship will provide a better opportunity for more drivers to win the championship, creating excitement and drama throughout the entire season,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “In addition, the Chase for the Championship will showcase our drivers’ talents, increasing the value for all teams and their sponsors.”
After the first 26 races of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, all drivers in the NASCAR Top 10 and any others within 400 points of the leader will earn a berth in the “Chase for the Championship.”
No driver outside the top 10 with 10 races remaining has come back to win the championship of NASCAR’s premier series, under the current point system.
All drivers in the “chase” will have their point totals adjusted. The first-place driver in the standings will begin the chase with 5,050 points; the second-place driver will start with 5,045, etc. Incremental five-point drops will continue through the list of title contenders.
In addition, NASCAR is making a change to the current point system for the first time since the system’s 1975 inception, awarding 180 points to a race winner, compared to the previous award of 175 points. Five-point bonuses for leading a lap and leading the most laps still will be awarded.
The 180-point award will ensure that a race winner gets more points than a race runner-up. This change will be in effect starting this season for NASCAR’s three national series – NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
At season’s end, every driver who finishes in the NASCAR Top 10 will receive a point-fund payout of at least $1 million, with the champion receiving more than $5 million. In addition, the 11th-place driver in the final standings will receive a $250,000 bonus.
“This new approach to determining our champion has both the drivers and the fans in mind,” Helton said.
“The Chase for the Championship will be a continuation of our season, with heightened drama. It will increase the spotlight on all competitors and increase the value of being in the series for all teams.
“This will be exciting – and fair. Since 1975, using the current point system, no driver has ever been outside the NASCAR Top 10 with 10 races remaining and come back to win the championship in our premier series. We added the 400-point cutoff to allow drivers outside the top 10 after 26 races to be included in the Chase for the Championship.”
The last time the point system for NASCAR’s premier series was altered was in 1975 when the current system, designed to reward consistency, was introduced. This marks the 11th time since 1949 that the point system has been changed.
The system instituted in ’75 remains virtually intact for NASCAR’s three national series – aside from the five additional five points for race winners.
In a safety-related move designed to limit the number of damaged cars returning to races merely to accumulate points, NASCAR will increase minimum-speed requirements, in lieu of altering the points breakdown for lower-finishing cars.(NASCAR PR)(1-21-2004)
What Might Have Been in '03
from a Daytona Beach News Journal column:
After Matt Kenseth's run to the 2003 points championship put many fans to sleep, NASCAR went ahead and changed its points system Tuesday. We took the new points system and applied it to last year's snoozer. The result (in your dreams): Jimmie Johnson, left, and Jeff Gordon, right, made it a 1-2 finish for Hendrick Motorsports in the "Chase for the Championship."
REAL FINISH: 2nd (4,932)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 4th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 7th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 1st
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,574
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Engine problems at Talladega led to his only DNF;
overcame five-point deficit to Ryan Newman at Homestead.
6,549 points -- (60 behind)
REAL FINISH: 4th (4,785)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 6th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 8th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 1st
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,524
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Trailed Newman by 55 heading into Homestead and finished fifth,
but Johnson erased his car owner's chances for a fifth title by finishing third.
6,496 points -- (113 behind)
REAL FINISH: 6th (4,711)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 5th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 10th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 1st
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,466
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Eight-time winner in 2003 led by five points heading into Homestead,
but a Lap 3 accident left him with a DNF.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6,419 points -- (190 behind)
REAL FINISH: 3rd (4,815)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 2nd
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 12th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 1st
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,374
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Thirty-seventh at Dover hurt, but Junior still had title shot
(155-point deficit) at Homestead.
Unscheduled pit stop on Lap 186 dashed hopes.
6,387 points -- (222 behind)
REAL FINISH: 5th (4,770)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 3rd
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 12th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 2nd
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,347
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Just two top-fives and no wins during "chase."
Atlanta (20th) and Phoenix (34th, accident) eliminated Harvick.
6,208 points -- (401 behind)
REAL FINISH: 1st (5,022)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 1st
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 17th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 4th
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,158
"CHASE" SUMMARY: The problems that the real 2003 champ evaded
in the first 26 races found him during the "chase."
Had three worst finishes of season (33rd, 36th, 43rd).
6,194 points -- (415 behind)
REAL FINISH: 8th (4,377)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 7th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 17th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 1st
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,174
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Win at Homestead couldn't make up for DNF at Martinsville
and troubles at Dover (31st) and Phoenix (36th).
6,090 points -- (519 behind)
REAL FINISH: 10th (4,162)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 9th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 19th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 6th
"CHASE" POINTS: 1,080
"CHASE" SUMMARY: A resurgent season for the 47-year-old,
but Labonte couldn't capture the lightning he had to win the 1996 points championship.
5,960 points -- (649 behind)
REAL FINISH: 11th (4,150)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 8th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 24th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 4th
'CHASE POINTS: 945
"CHASE" SUMMARY: 2002 finishing kick was replaced by a big boot to the backside.
Busch had five finishes of 36th or worse during the "chase."
5,865 points -- (744 behind)
REAL FINISH: 15th (3,934)
"CHASE" STARTING POSITION: 10th
AVERAGE "CHASE" FINISH: 27th
BEST "CHASE" FINISH: 1st
"CHASE" POINTS: 860
"CHASE" SUMMARY: Waltrip won at Talladega, but had only one other top 10 during the "chase."
Q&A: France, Helton on Chase for the Championship by Lee Spencer; and
McReynolds answers your questions about the Chase for the Championship.(1-20-2004)
HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT TUESDAY: Speed Channel will interrupt regularly scheduled programming at approximately 9:30am/et on Tuesday morning, Jan. 20 to present a LIVE press conference from NASCAR's Media Tour at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Coverage is expected to last thirty minutes, and Speed will join regularly scheduled programming in progress at the conclusion of the press conference. The program will be repeated at 6:30pm/et on Tuesday. evening. Speed Channel's Ralph Sheheen will be on-site at the press conference and John Roberts will be in the studio.(Speed PR)
AND On Tuesday, NASCAR chairman Brian France and NASCAR president Mike Helton will be in Concord, NC, at the NASCAR Research and Development Center to unveil the new NASCAR Nextel Cup Series points system. The announcement will be available via a free LIVE Webcast on NASCAR.com, beginning at 9:30am/et.(NASCAR.com)(1-16-2004)
UPDATE from ThatsRacin.com "Here's what we know so far":
NASCAR's points plan? Based on NASCAR officials' public comments and conversations with The Observer, here is the likely basic structure of the new points plan for the Nextel Cup Series that will be announced Tuesday in Charlotte during the Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour:
• Championship series. There will be a number of races at the end of the season, probably 10, in which the champion will be determined.
• Who's eligible? At least the top-10 drivers in the standings after that first group of races, along with any driver within a certain number of points of the leader at that juncture. Look for that number to be around 400. One NASCAR official said that under the new plan Kurt Busch would have won the 2002 title. Busch was 361 points back with 10 races left in 2002.
• A head start. The driver in first place in the standings after the "regular-season" races will have an advantage over the driver who was second, with second ahead of third and so on. But that lead won't be large - the leader's head start over the 10th-place driver will likely be less than 100 points, a source told The Observer.
• Winning counts a little more. Under the system in place last year, if the driver finishing second in a race led the most laps that day, both he and the winner would get 180 points for that event. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said that possibility will be eliminated. This year, it's likely a victory will be worth 180 points, plus five for leading a lap. If second is still worth 170 points, a runner-up who leads the most lap would still get 180 points - counting five-points bonuses for leading a lap and for leading the most laps. But the winner would get 185. A winner leading the most laps would get 190 points that day.
(see full columns at ThatsRacin.com: Here's what we know so far and Opposition won't torpedo plan to change the points system(1-18-2004)
AND NASCAR vice chairman Bill France Jr. flatly denies that television partners FOX Sports, NBC and TNT wielded any influence in the new points and playoff systems. "You don't let someone else drive your car, do you?" France says. But he warns the "doubting Thomases to beware" of passing judgment on the new systems too hastily. "Sometimes we're right, and sometimes we're wrong," he says. "And if it turns out that it's not the smart thing to do, then we'll fix it." France says the networks have persuaded NASCAR to start some races later and run more of them at night, but any changes in the points or playoff systems come from NASCAR.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(1-19-2004)
NASCAR official confirms changes in points system UPDATE 2 Brian France comments:......while the exact format was NOT announced, some changes announced that are coming include: a "playoff formet", a possible wild card for the 'playoffs', more points for the race winners, no points for a pole sitter [boo], still drivers and owners points, for playoffs drivers will NOT go back to zero points, and higher minimum speeds to stay in the race. As an added incentive for the drivers not in the playoffs over the final 10 races -- if winning a race weren't enough -- NASCAR will create an award for the highest finishing driver out of the playoffs and will recognize him at the Awards Banquet in New York.(1-8-2004)
A tad of an UPDATE: hearing it will be something like this: a playoff of drivers within 400 points of the leader with a minimum of no less than 10 drivers from the first 26 races. If there are more, that’s fine…if there are five, then 10 will be in on the deal. As for the top seed (driver in 1st after 26) will be given more points [haven't heard what] than second with seeding done on a descending basis through the first 10, or more, of the drivers eligible.(1-12-2004)
Next Tuesday: NASCAR officials will lay out the details Tuesday of the new format for deciding the championship. The announcement will take place during the annual Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour of race team headquarters in North Carolina. (Tampa Tribune)(1-15-2004)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR Chairman Brian France said today that the new system for determining the first Nextel Cup champion "is not a playoff" and predicts the plan will have a better reception once drivers and fans learn details they haven't heard yet. "It's not a playoff," France told reporters during an informal session during the Preseason Thunder test at Daytona International Speedway. "A playoff implies a lot of things, notably best two-out-of-three, single elimination. We're not talking about something like that. We're talking about something that still has a big element of consistency, as much as two and a half months.... There will be some features to whatever we announce that have not been reported." France said he understood the fear of change from fans and drivers but predicted the final plan will alleviate those concerns: "When we lay out ultimately what we're going to do, everybody will go, 'You know what? That makes some sense.' We are largely confident that the plan that I know of that is on the table is going to work and is going to grow the sport, period.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter) and see the full Q&A at ThatsRacin.com: Q&A: Brian France and a column by Jim Utter: France: New plan is not a 'playoff'.(1-15-2004)
An Update on the proposed 'Playoff' points change UPDATE it is offcial: Drivers and teams have had a month to consider Brian France's proposed twist in NASCAR's championship point system, and there is no great enthusiasm for such a drastic change. But NASCAR is likely to announce the radical changes in the next two weeks, after tweaking a "wild-card" rule for the year's final five races. The top 10 drivers after 26 of the year's 36 races would have their points reset to zero and battle it out for the title - plus a still-to-be-decided "wild card." NASCAR executives want to give NBC more ammunition to use against the NFL this fall. Seven of the last 10 races are on NBC. Six of the sport's last 10 champions wouldn't have won under the proposed new rules. Jimmie Johnson would have won the 2003 title and Kenseth would have finished seventh.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-7-2004)
From the NASCAR Scene: NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series will conclude the 2004 season with a 10-race playoff, Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter confirmed this afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. While specifics of the playoff were not announced, it will include at least the top 10 drivers in points after the season's 26th event. A "wild card" plan might allow other drivers into the mix, but NASCAR is still running models of different scenarios before announcing the final plan. That announcement is expected to come during the Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour later this month. While reaction to the plan has been mixed, at best, Hunter said NASCAR would consider changing the way the champion is selected in 2005 if necessary. Hunter also announced that a race winner will receive more points than currently, though the amount of the "bonus" was not announced. Also, the driver winning the pole position will not receive any points. The playoff system applies only to the Nextel Cup Series.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)
From ThatsRacin.com: NASCAR this season will significantly change the way it determines the champion of its Nextel Cup series, marking the first major change to its points system since 1975. Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corportate communications, confirmed Thursday several changes to the current system. Among them:
• Every race winner in each of the three national series - Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck - will receive a points bonus for a race win.
• The Cup series will adopt a version of a "playoff format" - first discussed at the end of last season - that will encompass the final 10 races of the season. That system will be used to determine the series champion.
• NASCAR will continue with its current policy of not awarding any points in any of its series for qualifying.
• In order to accommodate any potential injuries to drivers who may be fighting for a championship, NASCAR will continue to award both car owner and driver points, allowing for the possibility of split championships.
• NASCAR is considering increasing the minimum speed requirements to reduce the number of damaged vehicles that remain in races after accidents.
The final details remain to be decided, but the entire plan should be ready for a formal announcement within two weeks, likely during the Charlotte media tour, Hunter said.(ThatsRacing.com)
From NASCAR.com: NASCAR indeed is changing the way it crowns a champion in the Nextel Cup Series in 2004, switching to a season-point points race to a 10-race "playoff," vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter confirmed to NASCAR.com Thursday afternoon. While Hunter didn't disclose the exact nature of the playoffs -- because NASCAR hasn't nailed down the details -- a system will be used in the final 10 races to determine the champion.
"Yes, we are committed to changing the format to use to determine the champion," Hunter said in an exclusive interview with NASCAR.com. "We're looking at 26, 10. We're looking at a number to make sure we don't exclude anybody in the 10 who would have a chance to win the championship."
The numbers of drivers eligible for the championship could be more than 10, and any driver in the playoffs will be seeded. NASCAR will not reset the points back to zero, but instead start each driver with a certain number, with the driver leading the standings getting the most points with 10 races to go. "A small lead, but it's a brand-new chase to the championship," Hunter said. "Nobody will go back to zero." Any driver within a certain number of points of the leader will be eligible for the playoffs. Hunter said NASCAR is trying to determine that number based on models from the previous 28 years of using the current system, but that number is between 300 and 600. For example, if a driver is in 14th place but 300 points behind the leader, he would still be eligible for the playoffs - and the championship.
"We'll start them off with x number of points, and the leader will have more than second, third, fourth, fifth, on down the line," Hunter said. "Then we still use our same points system the rest of the year for them." That's to make sure drivers out of the playoffs won't end up with more points with drivers in the playoffs. That starting-point number for playoff drivers has been established, but Hunter wasn't ready to announce them Hunter said NASCAR will award more points to the winner of each race, but it won't be a large number.
"Somebody said, '25,' and I said, 'Not that big,'" Hunter said. "We don't know what the number is yet. But the winner will receive more points than second place, no matter what."
NASCAR will not alter the points for lower finishers of a race as previously speculated, but the minimum speed at each track will be raised, reducing the number of slower cars allowed on the track (like cars returning from a crash). Qualifying will continue to pay no points.
As an added incentive for the drivers not in the playoffs over the final 10 races -- if winning a race weren't enough -- NASCAR will create an award for the highest finishing driver out of the playoffs and will recognize him at the Awards Banquet in New York. "You're racing to win races," Hunter said. "That's what you're supposed to be here for -- not running for points. We're toying with the idea of putting special point fund money to that position."
As for why NASCAR has decided to change the points system, Hunter said it was simple: After Labor Day, when college and pro football are beginning and competing for fans and television viewers, things go flat for NASCAR. NASCAR wants to add drama to the fall schedule, for TV and the fans. Some races late in the year are not selling out, Hunter said. "There's just so much more for NASCAR to compete with in that last third of the season that we don't have the rest of the year," Hunter said. "We're doing this to draw additional attention to our sport. That's the bottom line." Hunter also pointed out that the championship should not be based solely on consistency. Matt Kenseth, for example, won only won race in 2003 but ran away with the championship. Meanwhile, Ryan Newman won eight races but finished sixth in the points. "The balance of winning and consistency has sort of gotten out of whack," Hunter said. "It seems that the consistency factor plays more of a role than winning races. We need to change the format. "It's a new day, so we want to try this. We think it'll work. In the end, if it doesn't work, we'll change it back." Drivers have generally reacted negatively to the proposal, and fans have been against it from the start. In a NASCAR.com poll in December, fans were overwhelmingly against the playoff system. But Hunter said it was up to NASCAR to educate the fans as to the positives of the plan. "Fans that I talked to, when I explained to them why we're doing this and what we hope to accomplish, they may not swing all the way over, but they say, 'Oh, OK, I get that,'" Hunter said. One argument against the playoff system was the inability to break into the top 10 for drivers out of the playoffs. Figuring out the cutoff -- x number of points behind the leader -- was the "last piece of the puzzle," Hunter said. "On the average, that happens about one out of three years," Hunter said about drivers moving into the top 10 in the final 10 races. As for the other argument that drivers not in the playoffs have "nothing to race for," Hunter said there will be plenty. For one, the 10 races mean a lot to a winner. Besides, if a driver is outside the top 10 after 26 races, his season hasn't been as good as drivers inside the top 10. "People don't know that, and we've got to educate them," Hunter said. "People say, 'It sounds to me like you know what's going on, why don't you go ahead an announce it?' "When we announce it, we want to be able to, No. 1, present it in a simple fashion where the fans can understand it. No. 2, we're running models to make sure the numbers are right."(NASCAR.com)(1-8-2004)
Nextel to meet with NASCAR about points system UPDATE and final POLL results: Nextel Communications, which takes over as sponsor for NASCAR's Cup series in 2004, is meeting with NASCAR this week to seek information about a proposed addition of a playoff format to its top series, officials with the sponsor confirmed Tuesday. Nextel, which signed a 10-year deal in June to sponsor the Cup series, was not informed of NASCAR's desire to change the current points system before its deal with NASCAR was completed, sources confirmed. NASCAR officials maintain they are seriously considering a plan that would create a 26-race "regular season" and 10-race playoff format. Only the top-10 drivers in points after 26 races would be eligible to race for the championship over the final 10 races. A decision is expected next month. Since the plan first became widely circulated during the annual Cup awards banquet weekend in New York, Nextel has received an "overwhelming" response regarding the proposal from fans, sources said. Fans have flooded Internet message boards and radio talk shows discussing the playoff system. Some have mistakenly credited Nextel with pushing for the change. The plan, however, has been promoted heavily by new NASCAR chairman Brian France. In two recent Internet polls - one which is still underway - race fans have overwhelmingly expressed their disapproval with the playoff format.
A poll on ThatsRacin.com last week asked fans if NASCAR should adopt the "26-10" playoff-style points system in 2004. Of the nearly 4,600 responses, over 85-percent said 'no.'
Another poll on jayski.com asking if the NASCAR points system should be changed has elicited nearly 20,000 votes, with 55-percent saying 'no.' Of the seven choices given to change the system, the playoff format currently under consideration had 924 votes, or 4.69-percent as of Tuesday.
Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and 2002 champion Tony Stewart have recently expressed support of the current points system, with Harvick preferring a small points addition for winning a race. Ford Racing officials reached Tuesday said they would reserve comment on the playoff format until they received more specifics of the proposal from NASCAR.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-17-2003)
UPDATE: On Wednesday, Tom Kelly, chief operating officer of Nextel Communications, met with NASCAR personnel in Reston, VA as the two organizations continue to plan the rollout of Nextel's first-year sponsorship agenda, details of which are scheduled to be unveiled in January. Since the announcement of the sponsorship in June, Nextel has been very quiet, preferring to give Winston a wide berth for its final months in the spotlight. That will change in a big way next month as Nextel begins the process of boosting its name recognition among NASCAR fans.(in part from the Greenville News)(12-19-2003)
and The JAYSKI Poll looks like Votations.com shut down my Points Poll [won't use them again]
so I guess the final results are as follows:
29452 votes thru 11:00am/et on Dec 18th with 53.9% answering NO
46.1% answering YES in some fashion and only 4.64% voted for the "playoff" system that is being proposed.(12-19-2003)
THE INITIAL RUMOR Points Change? UPDATE 2: not sure if this was a joke or what, seemed off the wall, but on Speed Channel's Inside Winston Cup, Jimmy Spencer [and he sounded serious) said while at Homestead he was talking to NASCAR's Brian France, and was told that NASCAR 'may' change the Cup drivers points system where after the race at Richmond in Sept 2004 with 10 races left, the slate would be 'cleaned' and the top 10 would be locked in and they would run for the title. NOTE: have heard NOTHING on a change like this, no idea how it would work or what happens to the points with the drivers 11th and back, if this is serious or just a tongue in cheek to saying how crazy it is to change the points system when two out of three national series had such close points battles. Not looking for comments, debates or new system ideas, just reporting what was on the show.
UPDATE: Been told this is seriously being discussed.(11-18-2003)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR is considering a dramatic change in how it determines the champion of its top series, studying a plan to make only the drivers in the top 10 after 26 races eligible to run for the title over the season's final 10 events. Sources told The [Charlotte] Observer that, while no decision has been made and that NASCAR could still keep intact the system it has used since 1975, it is weighing a major overhaul. When applied to the past eight seasons, the most sweeping plan under study would have produced a different champion than the old system five times, including this season. That plan would advance the top 10 drivers following the Sept. 11 race at Richmond into a 10-race "postseason." Points earned in the first 26 races would be erased or evened up in some manner so points earned in the final 10 races would determine the champion. If this year's top 10 went back to zero after the September race at Richmond, Matt Kenseth would have seen a 418-point lead erased. Michael Waltrip, 785 points back in 10th at that juncture, would have gone to the first "playoff" race at New Hampshire on equal footing with Kenseth and the eight other drivers in the top 10. And Jimmie Johnson, who wound up second behind Kenseth in the final standings, would have won the title with 1,569 points over the final 10 races. Johnson would have been the guest of honor at Friday night's awards ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Kenseth would have finished seventh.
Earlier this year NASCAR chief executive officer Bill France Jr. indicated changes to the championship were likely after the 2003 season. France later stepped aside and turned the CEO job over to his son, Brian France, who said Thursday NASCAR is comfortable with its system despite criticism for its emphasis on season-long consistency. Kenseth won only one race in the 2003 but finished 90 points ahead of Johnson, who won three races. Ryan Newman, who led the circuit with eight victories, finished sixth in the final standings because he also had seven races where his No. 12 Dodge was not running at the finish. Top NASCAR officials are scheduled to meet in New York City Saturday to look at possible changes in the system. France said Thursday a final decision on changes to the points system could be announced as late as mid-January.
The first reports that such a system might be considered came from driver Jimmy Spencer on a television show that aired the day after the season's final race at Homestead Miami Speedway. Because the change seemed so radical, however, Spencer's comments drew marginal attention [except on Jayski]. Now it is clear the plan has advocates at the sport's top levels.
After 26 races a year ago, Kurt Busch was 12th in the standings. Over the final 10 races, however, Busch had 1,563 points -- more than anyone who would have qualified to race for the title over the final 10 races. Eventual 2002 champion Tony Stewart, who was fifth after 26 races, had 1,479 over the final 10 races. Brian France said Thursday any system NASCAR adopts would have to choose a "credible" champion. But if Busch scored more points in the final 10 races than Stewart, would that have damaged the credibility of Stewart's title? Because of that situation, officials are looking at possible ways to allow for a "wild card" contender to earn his way into the title chase.
Of the Winston Cup champions crowned since 1996, only Gordon in 1998, Bobby Labonte in 2000 and Stewart last year would have would have also won titles under the 10-race postseason system. Sterling Marlin would have won the 2001 title instead of Gordon. Labonte would have won in 1999 instead of Dale Jarrett. Jarrett would have won in 1997 instead of Gordon and Gordon would have won in 1996 instead of Terry Labonte.(full article on ThatsRacin.com and see another column at FoxSports/Sporitng News: Turning a marathon into a sprint)
AND Bill France Jr., retired chairman of NASCAR but still a power in the stock car sport, isn't convinced the points system needs to be changed.(See full story at NASCAR.com)(12-5-2003)
Points System to Stay: NASCAR officials are content with the points distribution system currently in place in the Winston Cup Series and say they have no plans to overhaul the formula. That, despite the fact that there have been occasions when the points race has been decided well before the end of the season, and other occasions when a driver with the most wins in a season has come out on the short end of the overall battle. But Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications, says it's highly unlikely any changes will be made anytime soon to the current points structure.(Winston Cup Scene - need sub to read)(11-15-2001)