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Fowler: NASCAR checks up on points

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

I was afraid of this, and sure enough it has happened: NASCAR's new points system looks way too much like the old one.

The scoring is simplified, yes -- the base points will be awarded on a 43-to-1 basis, giving 43 points to the winner in the field, 42 to second place and so on, down until 1 point for the 43rd (and last)-place finisher.

But as I wrote last week in The Charlotte Observer, you have to have a serious number of bonus points attached to first place to ensure drivers risk everything to get there in the final laps.

I suggested 25 extra bonus points for the winner.

NASCAR went with three.

It's just not enough, even though NASCAR will award a bonus point to anyone who leads a lap and one more to whomever leads the most laps. With a maximum of 48 points per race, that's just not enough separation between first and second and third and on down the line. It values consistency more than winning, which has always been the problem.

On the other hand, NASCAR made a positive move by allowing the final two spots in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship to go to the drivers with the most wins who weren't already in the Top 10. So that mitigates this a little, given that those drivers who win but have more up-and-down results can still make the Chase.

Still, it's not enough. If you're going to change the points system, you really need to change the points system, and not just make it simpler to deal with but still with the same inherent problem that winning doesn't count for enough.

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