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Question of the Day: What do you think of NASCAR's rumored changes to the points system? [Updated]

January 21, 2011 |  8:51 am

Question_300 Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Shawn Courchesne, Hartford Courant

NASCAR may introduce a simplified scoring system in the Sprint Cup Series that would award the winner in each week’s 43-car event 43 points for first, with each spot in the field earning one less point down to one point for finishing 43rd.

NASCAR currently uses a system that gives the winner 185 points, second place 170, third place 165 with differentials changing down the line to 34 points for 43rd place. The system also includes five bonus points for the driver who leads the most laps and five bonus points to any driver who leads a lap during a race.

A 43-to-1 system is simpler, though it hardly fixes anything. It would be another example of NASCAR’s mantra: “If it’s broken, break it even more.”

Both systems do not motivate drivers to get into heated battles for wins. Big-picture, racing is about competing for a championship. That’s where the big money is, the big endorsements are. Winning lasts one week, a championship lasts a lifetime. Settling for second is safer.

Battling for a win could mean a wreck, a 20th-place finish, a bad points day. Who pays for drivers’ caution? The fans. The old system, the rumored new system -- all they do is reward consistency.

Here’s the fix: Give the winner 100 points, second place 42 points and then one point less all the way down. It would have drivers trying to win, and return the fire that’s been missing.

[Updated at 9:22 a.m.:

Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times

As soon as NASCAR floated this trial balloon, it was attacked by many motor racing pundits who then proposed their own new points systems that would quickly give you a headache. But they also agreed on one good idea: Award more points for winning.

Yes, consistency is important in determining a Sprint Cup champion and should be rewarded as well. But there needs to be more impetus for drivers to win rather than settling for a top-10 finish. Merely simplifying the points system is less relevant.

And if NASCAR thinks changing the points system is important, it should make one other change: Award points for qualifying. Let’s give fans another reason to watch a single car make one or two laps around the track.]

[Updated at 12:06 p.m.:

George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel

Change will ultimately be a good thing for NASCAR, as long as it simplifies the criteria in the chase for points. You know your sport has a problem when some drivers aren’t exactly sure of where they stand until they look at the final race stats.

It shouldn’t be so complicated should it?

Speculation swirls around the likely scenario that NASCAR wants to use a scoring system that would award 43 points to the race winner, and one point less for each ensuing position down to one point for the 43rd-place finisher. That’s silly. The cutoff for points should be around 30th place, otherwise NASCAR is only encouraging drivers with wrecked clunkers to get back on the track for a couple of cheap points.

NASCAR officials need to be careful about setting a moving target that changes every some-odd years. It reflects a sense of urgency for a sport looking to regain its mojo with the masses.

NASCAR fans will let them know soon enough whether change is good.]

Photo: Jimmie Johnson poses with his five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship trophies. Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images

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