After Jimmie Johnson’s lucky sixth-place finish at Talladega, his lead is basically insurmountable. It does not have to be this way. As I pointed out last week, if NASCAR used a different scoring system, we could be winding up one of the most exciting seasons in Sprint Cup history.

What if, instead of Jimmie Johnson looking like a lock for his fourth straight title, the story line was: With three races to go, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin all have a shot at keeping Johnson from winning his fourth straight title. Now that would be exciting. Under the Formula 1 scoring system, which only rewards places one through eight, anyone within 30 points of the leader would have a shot at the title. 

The ironic part about the current scoring system is that once again it has created a bigger point differential than if NASCAR had just left the original points alone. In the old format, the top three drivers would be 79 points apart. Johnson and Tony Stewart would only be seven points apart. In the current format the top two drivers are almost 200 points apart.

Each year the gap between first and second keeps getting wider going into the last race of the year. We’ll probably see that trend continue again this year. The Chase is becoming less competitive. Isn’t it time for a tweak?

(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 36races@gmail.com.) 

Related links:
Updated championship probability table: Johnson has 98.6 percent chance of winning
Johnson and Gordon would be tied if NASCAR used F1 scoring system
Winning in NASCAR is like counting cards
Chase bonus points are meaningless
Jimmie Johnson has most points at Chase tracks this season
The Watermill Score: How to win a Sprint Cup title
Replacing crew chiefs has not helped Dale Earnhardt Jr.