Four Ways NASCAR Can Reward Regular Season Champion

Nothing is impossible in the sport of NASCAR, but how to find a fair way to reward the regular season points leader at the end of the first 26 races might prove to be NASCAR’s biggest challenge .

Not only due to the consequences it would have on The Chase, but also due to the mass imbalance it could cause.

With that being said and the fact that NASCAR officials have announced that they are at least exploring the idea of how to reward the regular season points leader before the Chase, here are five ways NASCAR can do so without completely compromising the integrity of the Chase and giving the recipient an unfair advantage over the rest of the field.

May 7, 2016; Kansas City, KS, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Matt Kenseth (20) lead the field to restart the GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

First round pole

It may not be a first round bye, but being handed the pole each week in the first round would be an excellent way of rewarding the regular season points leader in the first round of the Chase. It gives the driver great track position to start the race, a chance to gain points right off the bat for leading the race and ultimately a good chance at winning the race at the end of the day.

While it wouldn’t be the biggest way to reward a regular season points leader, especially since it doesn’t help the driver outside of the reasons listed above, it would still be a nice little reward for finishing ahead of everyone else in the first 26 race.  Not only that, it also gives the rewarded driver great track position and if used correctly, could be used to nab a good points day.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Money

There are few things in the world of NASCAR that get drivers attention as much as money does. In fact, a little extra monetary incentive has even been known to create some of the greatest NASCAR moments of all time. History making aside, the opportunity for more money at the end of the regular season would be a great way to bring out the best in every driver throughout the season.

How much though? It could be something simple like a $10,00 reward, but NASCAR could also drum up a lot of extra publicity if they tried for something in the million dollar ballpark as well.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Pit selection

Whether NASCAR fans want to admit it or not, pit selection can make or break an afternoon for any of the Sprint Cup Series’ 40 teams. Getting out first guarantees you a spot up towards the front and helps you stay out of trouble, but getting out behind a few cars could spell disaster during restarts. With that being said, what better way to reward a regular season points leader then with the first pit selection?

Sure, it’s not bonus points, or money, but the advantages of having this are hard to argue with. In fact, this would probably go down as one of the most popular rewards amongst drivers who want some kind of prize for being the points leader at the end of the regular season. For those that disagree, just think about how valuable that spot would be on the final pit stop of the race, especially during caution.

In the end, it probably won’t be a popular one with NASCAR fans, but to a driver who is battling for a title, a first round pit selection reward would probably be the most amazing advantage you come give them.

Oct 16, 2016; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) celebrates after winning the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Points

While money pit selection and poles are all wonderful incentives to reward drivers who are able to come out on top at the end of the season, nothing has quite the same effect that bonus points would. Yes, NASCAR already offers bonus points to each driver that wins a race during the regular season that could be used in the Chase, but what if all that was taken away and points were only rewarded to one driver.

It would completely change the landscape of the Chase to say the least and would also probably be the single greatest reward a driver could receive for their superb efforts during the regular season As for how many bonus points a driver should be rewarded to start the postseason, NASCAR should look at giving the winning driver 40 bonus points.

Why 40 you may ask? Well, that would put the driver one full race ahead of the rest of the field in points and also give them a chance to have a mistake during the first round without costing them the championship. While this reward won’t help the driver in future rounds, it is the best equivalent of a first round bye in other sports and doesn’t go completely overboard with the concept.

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