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Reaction To Change Mounts

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 27 2011

Red Bull Racing's Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers favor the changes to NASCAR's points system that were announced Wednesday evening. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Reaction to Wednesday’s announcement of changes to NASCAR’s point system began to roll in shortly after the announcement was made by NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the annual media tour sponsored by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The reaction came from drivers, media and track officials and promoters.

Here is a sampling of the reaction to the changes, which include a revamped system of paying championship points and bonus points to drivers and a reworking of the way the Chase is structured.

More reaction will be added as it comes in today.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Racing Toyota: “If it’s the whole 43 (points) – drop by a point – the way the bonus points are going to work out, the way you will make the Chase and the bonus points in the Chase – I like all of it. I think it’s kind of similar to what we have now.  The only differences are – I think it’s a little easier for the fan.  It’s easier for the fan in the grandstand to keep up with the points when things are close or to see where their favorite driver is in the points.  I like it.  Making the Chase – I think wins is a big part of the sport still.

“”NASCAR has really kept that a big part of the points and a big part of the Chase, which is good.”

Michael Waltrip, driver/owner of Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas: “As a race car driver I’ve known for a long time that if you finish 11th you’re going to get 60 more points than if you finish

Brian France revealed the changes Wednesday evening at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

30th. But I know that, and not very many other people know that.  Now anyone can understand that if you finish 10th and someone else finishes 20th you’re only going to get 10 more points than him and so it will just make the fans more engaged.

“I think we not only need to look at the points system but beyond that.  Look at the tracks to make sure that people understand where pit road speed starts.  You know if you look at the Dallas Cowboys new stadium that’s the new standard.  That’s where the bar is set with those big video screens and all sorts of technology.  That’s where we need to head with our race tracks.  We don’t need a cone set up at the end of pit road saying that’s where pit road speed begins, we need it either shot across digitally or it needs to be a big sign saying ‘enter here – speed limit 45.’  We need to show that so a fan in the stands can see those things. I think that is the direction we’re going and this is just the first little step.”

Jeff Hood, senior writer for RacinToday.com: “Overall, I think the various changes announced by NASCAR are fine. However, in regards to the restructure of the points system I would have preferred to see a larger award for winning a race. Brian France claims a three point bonus for winning strikes a balance between victory and consistency. But a three point bonus won’t go very far when it comes to overcoming a poor finish during the previous event. That tilts this system in favor of posting consistent finishes each week.”

David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota: “If it helps me get in (to the Chase) I’m all for it. (laughs).  I look at some of the guys last year that qualified for the Chase – they had great seasons and deserved to be there because they consistently finished toward the front and got a lot of points, but a little more

David Reutimann gives new rules a thumbs up. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images for NASCAR)

emphasis on winning is okay by me.  Then some guys, like me, ran into problems early in the season that cost us a shot at the Chase.  We ran up front our fair share too and feel we were just as good as a lot of the Chase teams throughout the year – and we won a race.  I think there was four of us that won races but were on the outside looking in when the Chase came around.  The new system seems to reward both consistency and wins – that’s a good thing.”

Terry Blount, ESPN.com: Overall, I would give the new plan a C. I like the two wildcard spots for making the Chase on victories, but the 43/1 format has the same major flaw as the old system _ not enough points for winning. And it destroys a driver for one bad finish. So instead of rewarding winning, it punishes losing.

Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway: “I commend NASCAR for making a change to the points system and to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. This change puts an emphasis on winning each week and shows how important winning the races before the Chase, including the June 5 Kansas 400, will be to each driver as they attempt to qualify for the Chase. The new format for the Chase, which includes an Oct. 9 date at Kansas Speedway, continues to emphasize winning with the Top 10 drivers in points and two “wild card” drivers with the most wins making the Chase. These changes will make 2011 an even more exciting season on the track and I look forward to seeing how these changes play out throughout the season.”

Brant James, auto racing blogger and veteran beat writer : NASCAR’s new points systems seemingly fails to either simplify the points structure or place a greater emphasis on winning, as was the stated goal. Fans won’t be able to easily discern how many positions a driver must gain in a race to achieve a certain goal without factoring a myriad of other elements, such as laps led. Doesn’t seem much more simple. And the gap between the race-winner and runner-up is negligible from the previous system. The winner in the new format: Richmond. Imagine up to ten drivers entering the final “regular season” race needing a win to snatch a wild card berth. That could be interesting.

Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 24 Front Row Motorsports Ford: “I don’t think it will make a difference how we race, as far as passing cars or going for a win.  It’s still going to be the same, in that the higher you finish, the more points you get.

“I like the idea of it being easier to understand, though.  If you’re battling someone around you in points – say someone who’s 10 points ahead – you’ll know how many spots you need to catch up to him.  Before, it was harder to figure out.  You had to wait until after the race or even until you got home to look it up on the Internet to see how many points you got.”

Dustin Long, NASCAR beat writer for Landmark Newspapers: Questions remain about this

Beat writers Tom Jensen of SPEED.com and Dustin Long of Landmark Newspapers interview Brian France. Media reaction to new rules is luke warm at best. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

points system and won’t be answered until the season is underway. Will this work? Or is this an illusion,tightening the points race to create in an effort to create more excitment and revive declining TV ratings and attendance figures? The wildcard spots for the Chase could add excitement to the Richmond race in September, which hasn’t had as much excitement in recent years with who is going to make the Chase and who isn’t. It will be worth watching to see if NASCAR officials will be able to tell doubters at the end of the year “I told you so” or if more changes will be needed.

Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota: “The difference is easy – the 43 to one points is explainable to anyone by a text and not a long email. It’s all nice – but when does Daytona start again? I’m ready to race.”

Nick Bromberg, RacinToday.com staff writer and blogger for Yahoo.com: NASCAR’s announcement of the broad changes to the points structure seem like changes for the sake of change. The worst thing that a sport can do is look like it is panicking in the face of adversity, and whether or not it’s actually the reality, the perception in this instance is that NASCAR is panicking.

The Chase is all that I’ve known since I’ve been covering the Sprint Cup Series and I love it. Sure, a certain driver has won five straight titles in the Chase format, but it’s exciting and I think the playoff format works. But this? Why mess with something that’s working?

It’s one thing to change the structure of a season if it’s conducive to blowouts. Last year was no blowout. Sure, the 43-1 points structure may be simpler — scratch that, it’s not, because the winner will actually get 47 or 48 points — but is it better? Who knows right now. But I do know right now that it’s underwhelming. Much like the television ratings and attendance figures.

I’ve got my doubts that three underwhelmings will make an overwhelming.

Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway: “NASCAR is to be saluted for their off-season work on the significant program changes announced today. The new elements will keep the sport fresh and interesting for both long-time fans and new followers of the sport. The changes to NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying will bring a great amount of drama back to pole qualifying day. We will see new heroes emerge in the Nationwide Series as drivers now have to choose what series they want to run for a title in. And, with the point system changes, there will be a heightened level of competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 2011 will be a very interesting season.”

Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway: “These guys are going to be driving like

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage likes the changes. (Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

their hair is on fire. Give NASCAR credit for placing the emphasis on winning races with the new points system. With the new points system, drivers are encouraged to win races in order to be in a position to win the championship. The points championship should be secondary to winning races week in and week out. If you do that, championships take care of themselves.”

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway: “I think it makes for a simpler system,” he said.” I like a lot of other fans had to break out the book to figure it out, to see how the points worked. Even with years and years of being involved in the sport it was difficult to know exactly how the points would shake out to be in a given race. Now we know it’s very simple. The margin of points has not changed a tremendous amount, but they have put more emphasis on winning which as a fan I love and I think all of the fans out there will really like it as well.”

Tom Jensen, beat writer/managing editor for SPEED.com: A lot of people were expecting more radical changes from NASCAR on the points system and were therefore disappointed when the changes actually turned out to be relatively minor. From my perspective, the new points continue to emphasize consistency, which NASCAR has long championed. While you could argue that winning should receive more importance, at least they didn’t go to something gimmicky and contrived like knock-out rounds, which would have been a real turnoff for fans, in my opinion.

Kenny Bruce, beat writer for Scenedaily.com: I don’t see the basic change in the points system

Kenny Bruce of Scenedaily.com, right, talks with NASCAR official Ramsey Poston. Bruce said changes are not all that radical. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

as any radical departure for the series. Wins and consistency will continue to be rewarded. Continuing to tinker with the Chase format, however, sends the message that NASCAR will alter the format based on what they feel it has failed to produce in previous years. Once again, I think they’re trying to “manufacturer” excitement instead of simply allowing it to occur naturally.

Lewis Franck, Reuters: While I believe that NASCAR was sincere in modifying the rules, I would not put it on the top of my list of urgent things needed to be changed. NASCAR officials said fans said they wanted more emphasis on winning and then admitted that, statistically, it was not a big change. They said they wanted to preserve the concept of consistency which is directly opposed to rewarding wins. Also, I think that the pole winner deserves one point, and that the point for leading a lap should read one point for leading a green flag lap.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota: “I don’t know that it would necessarily change much, as we have seen a few people put out some deals that Jimmie (Johnson) still would have won. It’s all the same for everybody. We all play within the same rules and we all just have to maximize and think of the different ways we can make those rules to our benefit more than somebody else’s. Now it’s just basically based off of average finish, how well you do, how many races you win. If you’re not in the top-10 and you have the most wins, do you just go after wins if you’re kind of struggling to make it in there? Can you get those wins? Every week we go out there and we try to win the race so it’s not that we’re going to be able to try extra hard or find some secret setup that’s going to put us in victory lane. That just doesn’t happen.”

Mark Armijo, The Arizona Republic and RacinToday.com correspondent: After all the off-season postering and behind-doors discussion, NASCAR officials still didn’t get it right. A victory in such a competitive series should demand more than a 3-point bonus, especially when the difference between finishing first and finishing runner-up is a measly one point (minus the bonus points). As it stands now, a driver finishing third could accumulate more points than the runner-up. And why in the name of Richard Petty would a driver risk a DNF with a daring move in the waning laps of a race when there’s only a one-point difference between finishing positions. I hope I’m wrong, but I envision less risk-taking by drivers, which could mean more yawning finishes.

(How do fans feel about it? Please comment below.)

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 27 2011
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • Terry says:

    Remember when you bought gas you got green stamps to collect?
    The MAIN reason to stop was for GAS…not the collecting stamps.
    Points need to be secondary.
    I just want to see drivers RACING clean
    ( old school smacking doors if needed, no Dale Sr. bumper shots )
    FOR THE WIN !!!!….second was only because you got beat not as a goal.
    Not starting out saying ” we are just shooting for top 15 finish today”.

  • SB says:

    Talk about fixing something that wasn’t broken! I don’t recall being at a race and hearing anyone say they wouldn’t be back because they didn’t understand the points system. Smoke and mirrors.

  • T-boned says:

    Thumbs-up to Kenny Bruce.

  • Kevin says:

    I am annoyed. Points racing is still going to occur, there isn’t enough incentive to improve position. It’s like Clint Bowyer said:

    “A bad day is going to hurt a hell of a lot more than it used to. So I don’t know what that’s going to do as far as the racing and things like that. You’re out there giving it 100 percent, you’re out there to win the race each and every week anyway, but you’re not going to step underneath somebody if you’re loose and you know they’re going to make you even looser. You’re not going to try to make that pass for a fifth place and take a chance of finishing 35th.”

    Make it a gap between positions. 10 points more for 1st than 2nd, 9 for 2nd over 3rd, 8 for 3rd over 4th, 1 for 10th over 11th on back to and the same points for 30th on back.
    Take away the bonus point for leading a lap, give a bonus point for leading at 20% of all laps, and 40%, 50% 60% & 80% too. Encourage all day racing to get to the front. Give more bonus for leading the most laps. Give a bonus for qualifying on the pole, 43 fastest cars, impound race & run what you brung. Make it exciting, and give the drivers a reward for driving under a guy when you’re loose, trying to pick up 5th spot.

    Running 10th every day is not exciting. If you want fans to know how drivers are doing in points, put up a second tower in the infield, one for running position, one for points. People watching on tv have the ticker and that seems to work alright.