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Reassessing the championship: time for a less gimmicky points system?

Reassessing the championship: time for a less gimmicky points system?

The best all-around driver in NASCAR this season? Greg Biffle (L). He's on the pole for Saturday night's Charlotte 500, and Mark Martin (R) is on the outside. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   The championship, the championship....everything seems to revolve around the championship right now.
   Points and hoopla.
   Racing of course should be about winning races. But each fall, well, things seem to get skewed.
   At the moment some fans and writers are reassessing the current points system...

   Now there are some who might think, logically, that the NASCAR champion should be the man and team that does the best job over the entire season.
   What better way to judge that, by the numbers, than by 'best average finish.'
   It's plain and simple and just -- a man who finishes first, gets one point; second place, two points; and so on.
   You get what you earn, no more, no less.
   No smoke and mirrors.
   No stroking.
   No gimmicks.
   You get what you earn.
   And here, 30 races into the 36-race season, that gives us an interesting point of view:
   The man with the best overall performance so far this season is.....Greg Biffle.
   Yet under this chase playoff format he appears well out of the title hunt.
   The man with the best overall performance so far this season. Toast.

    Best Average Finish
   (over all 30 races)

  Greg Biffle                 10.133
  Dale Earnhardt Jr.  10.333
  Brad Keselowski    10.5
  Jimmie Johnson      10.667
  Matt Kenseth           11.200
  Martin Truex Jr.     11.300
  Clint Bowyer          11.533
  Kevin Harvick        11.933
  Denny Hamlin       12.233
  Tony Stewart        13.467
  Kasey Kahne         13.600
  Jeff Gordon            14.300

   To make it simpler  to visualize perhaps, multiple by the 30 races run:
   Greg Biffle                    304 points
   Dale Earnhardt Jr     310
   Brad Keselowski      315
   Jimmie Johnson         320
   Matt Kenseth             336
   Martin Truex Jr.       339
   Clint Bowyer             346
   Kevin Harvick           358
   Denny Hamlin           367
   Tony Stewart             404
   Kasey Kahne              408
    Jeff Gordon                429

   For what it's worth....



   Jeff Gordon: not the most consistent finishing average this season....but he's still got a shot at the title (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Meanwhile NBC's Brian Williams, who has covered a number of NASCAR races himself, put it all into national perspective on the Nightly News Monday evening:
   He introduced the Talladega video clip of the devastating 25-car last-lap crash with that "bloodthirsty" quote from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and pointing out that Dale Earnhardt Sr. himself was killed at one of stock car racing's two restrictor plate tracks.
   Now how will NASCAR executives respond?
   So far there has been no particular response, either from the sanctioning body or drivers.
   However NASCAR officials are pointing to their "aggressive testing" of the 2013 cars, which drivers said, after last week's Talladega test, do "drive differently."
   At this point it should be noted that last season's two-car drafts -- which NASCAR has essentially outlawed -- were a much safer form of racing at the sport's two flat-out tracks.
   Of course it should be pointed out that Dale Jr. didn't like last season's two-car drafts, saying he wanted to be more in charge of his own destiny, rather than have to rely on a 'partner' out on the track.
   Wonder how much control he had over his destiny Sunday afternoon....


   Tough track, tough men (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Junior wanted the rules changed last year...and now he wants the rules changed again.
   The real problem here, of course, is nothing new -- Daytona and Talladega are 1960s race tracks, dinosaurs in this super-aero age of racing.
   Too much banking, and both are now amazingly smooth, so drivers run flat-out all the way around.
   In big, big packs.
   Throw in those 'shootout' restarts, and it's a recipe for carnage.
   So what to do?
   Maybe some speed bumps down in turn one, to bring some handling back in the game?
   The two-car drafting was intriguing, with drivers pairing up and using an amazing closing rate to launch passes from half a lap back. The key was the Daytona repave, which took that bumpy track and made it stunningly smooth.
   However television couldn't quite figure out how to use cameras effectively in covering that unexpected form of racing. And NASCAR executives decided they didn't like it a bit, and officials began tweaking engine cooling rules to force drivers to stop two-car drafting.
   NASCAR's tweaks didn't set well with drivers, who last fall at Talladega complained they were spending more time watching their temperature gauges than trying to race the competition.
   More tweaks.
   This season opened at Daytona with a huge pack-crash in the Saturday Nationwide race...and when the 500 itself finally got going, Jimmie Johnson was knocked out in a first-lap crash, and then in the final moments another big crash....
    At Talladega in May a big crash in the final miles of the 500...just after Eric McClure's violent Nationwide crash the day before.
    At Daytona in July 15 drivers crashed on the last lap....
    Now this.
    It is really amazing that drivers haven't been very seriously injured in any of these  melees.

   The other half of Sunday's Talladega dilemma was in the grandstands. Or rather who wasn't in the grandstands.
   The race day crowd, once 190,000 at the sport's biggest track, not so long ago, was officially listed at 88,000 this past Sunday. That's even down considerably from this spring's relatively small 108,000.
    Jeff Gordon, who may have provided the best story of the day by slipping back into championship contention, said he couldn't understand why the stands weren't packed, as violent and thrilling as the racing is.
   And that should be a major issue for the people running this sport, the continuing loss of fans and viewers.


Meanwhile, on the Angela Cope front....(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Re Talladega, the first thing I thought when I

Re Talladega, the first thing I thought when I tuned in was there's more seats visible than fans. Another track, bigger than them all, half full. The reason? The economy, the product, the economy, the product, the economy, freedom of choice...

I doubt it's the economy...

If that was the case, have you seen the stands at College and Pro Football games? Tickets cost far more and the stands are nearly packed from city to city, plus they\'re on TV more, prime time even.

I've been saying for years -

I've been saying for years - tear down the banking in one turn of Daytona & 'Dega. After that, make the turn a reverse-camber type, similar to many road course turns. I guarantee you that no driver will be sailing into a reverse camber turn at 200mph.

Presto..........no restrictor plates needed any more and no more giant packs all going at the same speed.

No, Make More Tracks Like Talladega

That is an insult to racing. Real racing is 43 vs. each other, not boring one on one "battles" where no one fights for anything and everything conspires to get in the way of passing. Real racing is open throttle. Real racing is 88 lead changes. Real racing is all about the draft, not about handling.

Restrictor plates are needed for ALL the tracks because the cars are too fast - if anything, Dale Junior's concussion incurred at KANSAS weeks before this Talladega crash proves anew the cars are too fast. Restrict all the tracks; make them like Talladega, not the other way around.

What's cheaper???

Tearing down two racetracks with ISC $$$ for 4 Cup races a year or making the sport build "smaller" non-restrictor plate engines for Daytona and Talladega? Cheaper. ISC Stockholders will look @you with blank stares for tearing down D&T.

A Joke

Its like these wrecks are purposely added to the show at these plate tracks. It is a virtual certainty that its going to happen, so maybe Nascar should mandate what lap it will be...2 laps to go? white flag lap? They like to script everything else, why not \"The Big One\"? Oh right! They don\'t have to. This ridiculous racing produces this stuff on its own.

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