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All quiet on the NASCAR front.....?

  Maybe the real NASCAR champ is the guy who wins the most races in the chase? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   All in all, it's been pretty darned quiet on the stock car racing front in the weeks since theHomestead finale.
   But that may be about to change.

The $20 million-plus repaving job here is to get a big workout Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in the first Daytona 500 testing in several years.
   And drivers have been fretting about Daytona – with its narrow corners – becoming something of a second Talladega, with tight drafting packs that don't loosen up over a 100-mile run, as was the case with the 30-year-old asphalt here that made the 500 more of a handling race than horsepower and aerodynamic battle ground.
   Certainly the increased possibility of more 'Big Ones' is enough to put some of these guys on edge. Remember Ryan Newman's outburst at Talladega last year (criticism which prompted NASCAR execs to levy a secret $50,000 fine).
   But at the moment it looks like the hot button issue here may be the championship points system, which NASCAR CEO Brian France has talked about tweaking ever since last July.
   What the rules might be for the upcoming season, which opens in barely 22 days, seems to be up for debate.
   Okay, let's start thinking logically about this championship points system.
   There are any number of ways to pick a champion. The simplest would be awarding it to the guy who wins the most races over the whole season.
   But let's look at a few things.
   First, do we want to reward consistency over the full season, or do we want to reward winners and drivers who lead laps?
   For the last 30 or so years, the title has typically gone to the most consistent finisher. In large part that's because the long-standing system – with or without the playoffs – penalizes a driver far more for a bad day than can reward him for a good day.
   If anything about the NASCAR championship rules needs to be tweaked, it's that: either give a driver a chance to hit a 'home run,' by big points for an outstanding race, or let a driver discard one or two bad finishes.
   So let's reward race winners and drivers leading laps with big points days.
   To make it all simple, pay each race winner a solid 100 points. Simple, clear.
   And let's pay the man who leads the most laps a solid 50 points. Simple, clear.
   So if you step to the plate, lead the most laps and win the race, you've earned 150 points.
   But what about the guy who runs top-five yet doesn't win? He's done a good day's work. Pay second place 90 points, third place 80 points, fourth place 70 points and fifth place 60 points.
   After fifth place -- or 10th place, however you want to consider things – it shouldn't really matter where you finish.
   And those last 10 or 15 spots each Sunday, well, we don't need drivers running around in damaged cars. Not safe. So maybe everyone who finishes 30th or worse gets the same points. Say, five points.
   The playoffs?
   Maybe a driver should have to win a 'regular season' race to make the cut. No exceptions. No stroking through the first 26.
   Think of ticket sales for those late summer tour events at Richmond, Bristol, and Atlanta.
   Or maybe make it a 'wild card' rule – anyone who wins at least two regular season races gets into the chase. Two, not just one, to keep out flukes. Call it the Jamie McMurray rule.
   And once in the chase, how about the using the simplest, smartest way to determine the champion, also the most obvious – the man who wins the most races.
   How would such a system have worked in 2010?
   Denny Hamlin would be the champion, over Clint Bowyer. Each with two playoff wins, each with a playoff second place....and Hamlin edging out Bowyer on the strength of a fourth place finish at Charlotte.
   This past season's chase winners: Hamlin, Bowyer, and Carl Edwards, all with two; Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray (though he wasn't in the chase), Tony Stewart, and Greg Biffle.
    At least it's food for thought.


Good ideas Mike. I think I

Good ideas Mike. I think I spread my proposed point system out over a 300-point scale, but like you I had the winner getting 50 more points than second place. Let's hope NASCAR doesn't come up with a worse point system than they currently use.

On a separate note, have you heard anything on what Front Row Motorsports is doing this season? Can't find anything in the news and they have nothing on their website. I had heard Kvapil was looking to go back to running the truck series, but have found nothing to confirm it. I can't find anything on Gilliland, either. Just wondering if they are going to have cars/drivers in the field this year.
If my count is right, there are only 30 teams with full-time drivers. There are a couple more teams that plan on running the full season with multiple drivers, but it's concerning that there does not appear to be a full field, or near that amount, of cars that plan to run the full schedule. Looks like even more start-and-parkers in the field this season.

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