NASCAR changes point system

Published 10:39 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

Will a change in the NASCAR point system bring an end to the reign of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team? (Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BROOKLYN — With the announcement of changes to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points system, the summer race dates at Michigan International Speedway on June 19 and Aug. 21 will offer more excitement for fans and become even more pivotal races on the 2011 Sprint Cup Series schedule.

A two-time Sprint Cup Series race winner at MIS agrees:

“The points system will be easier for all to understand and therefore track their favorite driver and team. Mathematically it will still reward the winner and therefore a winning and deserving champion,” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman said. “The Michigan race in August is especially pivotal because you can mathematically eliminate yourself from the Chase or lock yourself in for that matter. That can’t be done at Infineon or Darlington. There are just as many points to gain or lose, but you can change the outcome of the rest of your season in that one race.”

The announcement, which took place on Wednesday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., will make the points standings easier for fans to understand, while putting a greater emphasis on winning.

“I love the simplicity of the points for our fans and am very excited that NASCAR has emphasized leading and winning,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “Our sport is about proving who is the best, not just over the course of the season, but each week on a variety of race tracks. These changes balance awarding consistent success over 10 months and great performances on a weekly basis.

“I am very happy with the addition of the wildcard drivers and that they did not add ‘knockout’ rounds as had been rumored. The Chase is an exciting playoff for our sport as seen with this last year’s thrilling championship. Blaming a once-in-a-lifetime witnessing of Jimmie Johnson and his race team’s amazing success is not a reason to scrap the Chase or make kneejerk reactions. Yet, the changes announced by NASCAR are not subtle and put the focus on where is should be – racing and winning and earning your way into the playoffs and then racing win the Championship,” Curtis continued.

The new points system — which applies to all NASCAR national series — will award points in one-point increments. As an example, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, race winners will earn 43 points, plus three bonus points for the win. Winners also can earn an extra point for leading a lap and leading the most laps, bringing their total to a possible maximum of 48 points.

All other drivers in a finishing order will be separated by one-point increments. A second-place finisher will earn 42 points, a third-place driver 41 points, and so on. A last-place finisher — 43rd place — earns one point. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the last-place finisher receives eight points, to account for that series’ 36-driver race field.

While the 12-driver Chase field remains intact, the final two spots will be determined by the number of wins during the first 26 races. The top 10 in points following Race No. 26 — the “cutoff” race — continue to earn Chase berths.

Positions 11 and 12 are “wild card” qualifiers and will go to non-top-10-ranked drivers with the most wins, as long as they’re ranked in the top 20 in points. The top-10 Chase drivers will continue to be seeded based on wins during the first 26 races, with each win worth three bonus points. The wild card drivers will not receive bonus points for wins and will be seeded 11th and 12th, respectively. It’s a move aimed towards rewarding winning and consistency during the regular season.

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