I am following up on an Oct. 1 post that showed what the standings would look like if NASCAR used Formula 1’s point system. I have updated the numbers and, well, let’s just say they would make many fans very excited about the last four races of the season. All of the sudden Jimmie Johnson isn’t running away with the title. He’s locked neck-and-neck in a historic battle with his friend, teammate and owner Jeff Gordon. This is much closer than the current Sprint Cup standings, where Johnson and Gordon are separated by 150 points.
In my previous NASCAR/F1 scoring post, Tony Stewart and Mark Martin were ranked 1-2, but after a string of good runs, Johnson and Gordon have taken over those spots. Previously, Johnson was in fourth place, 10 points behind Stewart. Now he is four points ahead of Stewart.
In the F1 system, anybody within 40 points of the leader is within reach of the title. If they score four straight wins, they will get 40 points. So the entire top five, including Denny Hamlin, would still have a shot at the title. The good thing about this system is it doesn’t punish you much for a bad race. Getting 43rd is no different than getting 23rd. It gives drivers a chance throughout the season as long as they have the ability to run up front.
As a result, I think this system would lead to more competitive driving up front, which would give the fans the type of aggressive and strong racing they really want to see. Everybody needs to race to the front to score.
Right now, the only way Johnson won’t win the title (in real points) is if he wrecks and someone can capitalize. There really isn’t any way to catch up with him as long as he keeps getting top 10s.
The F1 system is not perfect for NASCAR. So let’s tinker. In a 43-driver field, having points go to the top eight seems extreme. What if we gave points to the top 15? That might be a fair compromise. Anything 16th or worse is worth one point, so at least drivers get credit for qualifying and competing. I would say DNFs get zero points, so there is some encouragement to stay out and race.
And the good news is you wouldn’t need a Chase to reset the points. The Chase reset, statistically, is the same as throwing a "phantom debris caution" late in a race. Both artificially bring drivers back together to manufacture a more exciting finish. With a better points system, NASCAR would not need that.
(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is the creator of the Watermill Score and the FLOPPER Award and edits the racing statistics blog 36 Races. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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