What if we replaced the entire Sprint Cup points system – and the Chase too – with the Formula 1 points system? This is what we would discover: the current points system is designed to punish drivers for bad finishes. It is not designed to reward drivers for good finishes. That is the fundamental problem with the Sprint Cup’s current setup. It rewards not doing bad.

The F1 system is based on rewarding good finishes. It only counts the top eight and forgets about the rest. This is the current 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system that was designed in 2003. I know that NASCAR fields 43 cars per race, so only scoring the top eight seems extreme, but it’s an interesting example to use here. This is what the standings would look like if NASCAR used the F1 standard:

A lot of good things happen here. Wins are a big deal. On the flip side, crashing out of a race would be less devastating, because a crash would be the same as a ninth-place finish. Crashing out would not hurt a driver any more than finishing outside the top eight would hurt the 34 other teams outside of the top eight. Also, cars that were many laps down would not be tempted to get back on the track and race “for points.” They would clear the field and leave the track to the contenders, which would improve the racing.

In the table above, we find that Mark Martin would still be in the thick of the title race without needing any Chase reset. Kyle Busch would be up there as well. And we’d see current Chase drivers like Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers outside the top 12.

This is my point. If Martin and Stewart are basically tied here, based on their top eight finishes, but the current system has them more than 400 points apart (not Chase adjusted), then doesn’t that just show that the current system is more interested in punishing bad finishes rather than rewarding good ones?

Do we really want our champion to be the guy who was "least bad on his bad days" or the guy who was "the absolute best on his good days"?

No Chase format change or awarding of bonus points for wins is going to fix that. As long as the current system of awarding positions 1-43 points stays the same, people will still complain, perhaps correctly, that the champion isn’t a true reflection of the best car. I’m not saying we should use the F1 system, I’m just saying we should use it as a comparison to what we have, and then ask ourselves, “What makes more sense?”

(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is the creator of the Watermill Score and edits the racing statistics blog 36 Races. E-mail him at 36races@gmail.com.)

Related links:
Menard’s FLOPPER lead shrinks
Updated championship probability table: Johnson passes Stewart and Martin
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.