Woody: It’s Time To Dump Lap-Leading Points
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
When NASCAR tweaked its points system at the start of the season it should have made one more change:
It should stop awarding bonus points to each driver who leads a lap.
It’s become a travesty and a fraud. We see it in almost every race: a leader slows down and allows a teammate to pass and lead a lap to get the bonus point. It’s a point he didn’t earn and doesn’t deserve.
Leading one lap is worth one bonus point. Leading the MOST laps is also worth one bonus point.
What a warped system. I’ve never understood the logic: why does a driver who leads a single lap deserve the same number of bonus points as a driver who leads, say, 400 laps? Especially when a driver can “earn” his lap-leader bonus point if he leads the lap under caution?
And it’s even worse when he is given a charity lap – and a charity bonus point – by a teammate.
Nowadays all the chatter in the broadcast booth is about how “valuable each point is.” Drivers who crash early fidget in the garage as their team frantically works to get the car back on the track and run a few more laps in hopes of picking up another point or two.
If every point is so precious, why does NASCAR allow teammates to blatantly award them to each other?
Let’s say they did it in just five races – a leader deliberately slows to allow a teammate a free pass and a free bonus point. That’s five points. After 26 races what if those five points – points he didn’t earn and didn’t deserve – was the difference between him getting into the Chase and another driver getting bumped out?
There was a time when intentionally allowing another driver a freebie pass for the lead would have been unthinkable, but with the advent of multiple teammates we’ve seen the sham increase in recent years.
NASCAR could eliminate the practice by eliminating the bonus point it gives to each lap leader.
My suggestion: do away with the one-lap-lead bonus point and award a lot more bonus points to the driver who leads the most laps, and perhaps a few points for the driver who leads the second-most number.
That would add incentive for drivers to get out front and stay out front. A driver who was down in the standings could make up some major ground if the lap-leader’s points award was bigger.
But the most important thing that doing away with the one-lap-led bonus point would do is discourage fake “passes” for the lead.
In other sports, intentionally giving an opponent points he didn’t earn is called points-fixing. It’s time that NASCAR recognized it as it as such, and stopped rewarding it.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments