Proposed changes still leave questions

There’s a lot of talk right now about a possible change in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points system for 2011.

We all have to remember that all this right now is simply speculation and discussion. However, I have learned in my 30-plus years in this sport that where there is smoke, there is probably a little bit of fire. I think this is an area that is being looked at hard.

A few weeks ago and, heck, a few days ago, I had the same opinion that our fans had – just leave things alone.

We are entering the eighth year of the Chase for the Sprint Cup format. If NASCAR tweaks that, I believe it would be the fourth change in eight years. Now that’s a lot. I have to say, though, I like this talk of a brand-new, easy-to-understand points system.

The talk right now is about a much simpler points system. It’s so simple that you can explain it to someone in 15 seconds or less. What has been speculated on is based on a 43-car field. The winner of the race gets 43 points. The driver finishing second gets 42 points and so on down to the last-place guy, who would get one point for that race. Let’s face it, that is as simple a points system as you could ask for or even explain.

The question is going to be, what they will do with the teams that try to qualify for a race but fail to do so. Right now, those teams still get owners points for even attempting to qualify.

The other thing that looks to be considered is bonus points for leading a lap or leading the most laps. So those are two issues that will have to be addressed if NASCAR does this speculated complete overhaul of the points system.

I think everyone needs to wait until we see what the whole package becomes. I would think there would be more of a bonus for winning the race than just receiving one more point than the car that finished second.

Over on the Chase side of things, I still maintain having 12 teams in a playoff system is the right mix. I am not one of those who supported an expanded Chase field. See, that’s the thing I don’t like about the NHL and the NBA playoffs – it’s like everyone makes the playoffs. On top of that, it seems like the playoffs go on forever.

In regards to the Chase, I am hearing it has been proposed to have the top 10 in points after 26 races qualify for the Chase. Those final two spots, I am told, will be awarded to the two teams that win the most races in the first 26 races that aren’t already in the top 10 in points. There would be the incentive for focusing on winning. For example, under this new scenario, Jamie McMurray would have made the Chase in 2010.

Overall, I like it as a package. I don’t like one without the other, honestly. Also under this potential new points system, once in the Chase, teams would stay bunched up a lot longer. We don’t need elimination in the Chase because we actually already have it naturally. I like a system that gives more teams a chance to take home the crown coming down to the last race of the season.

I’m not sure I would still be in favor of the five bonus points for leading a lap. All someone has to do now is stay out when everyone pits and lead a lap under caution. Under this new system, do they really need to reward someone for that?

As a broadcaster for the past 10 years, it has been incredibly hard to explain the current points system to the casual fan. Actually, I doubt any of us have done a very good job because it’s so hard to explain.

So I am excited to see what is coming down the pike. I think we might hear some type of announcement from NASCAR as early as next week during the Media Tour in Charlotte. I think this whole package could create a buzz that will help our sport.

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