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Woody: It’s Time To Dump Lap-Leading Points

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 16 2011

Is leading a single lap worth a point? NASCAR may want to make one more tweak to the system. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

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 lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 16 2011
8 Comments

8 Comments »

  • Steveo says:

    Nascar doesn’t have a problem with teammates letting each other by to lead a lap because it makes their loop data look better. And those are the numbers he uses to attract the attention deficit fans that he covets. 76 lead changes at Daytona. Most of those were because the driver HAD to drop back due to overheating by switching with their partner.

    Bonus points for leading at certain points of the race is a good idea. Might add a little more strategy to the days proceedings as well.

  • Bill says:

    While the points system has changed since I originally came to this idea, I think it would still be a good way to deal with leading laps–I’ve long seen the problem as bonus points now allow the actual rankings to become spread out, when what is needed is for things to remain as tight and close as possible.

    What I’d like to see:

    1. Laps “led” count only under green flag conditions

    2. Lap leader points is a cumulative calculation, with only an “end of season” award

    3. No more using the bonus points to affect and set the weekly ranking–the points awarded by order of finish (43 to 1) now stands on its own merit as far as where the teams get to park their haulers each week.

    The pressure remains on at every event to get up front and try to lead, considering the value of the bonus at the end of the season. Over the years, there are clear “winners” based on the stats available to see how this may have played out in the past–I admit I have not run any season-by-season numbers to see what difference it would have actually made (combined with the new 43-point system).

    4. Here’s the format I would use:

    -Most laps led for season = 43 point bonus
    -2nd most laps led = 42 point bonus
    -follow this scenario all the way down to a single point for fewest laps led (if there are even 43 different green flag lap leaders in a season)
    -if more than one driver leads same number of laps for the season, all get the same number of bonus points (past season data indicates this is very unlikely except toward the lower end of the points order)

    The data is there to calculate this quite easily. Depending on how close the numbers may be, it can possibly add some drama to the outcome at the end of the year, all the way through the rankings.

  • ed g says:

    Well, let me go way out in left field and suggest doing away with points altogether. Put the championship contingency money into the weekly pot and make winning (or placing well in) a race VERY lucrative. I want to see an all out race for the money when I get a chance to shell out a few hundred dollars for a Cup ticket. Hell, give all the money to the top 30 and let the rest have $10,000 tow money. Good points day, my a$$.

    Yes, I know the real money is in TV and they want a championship. But I can dream of meaningful racing, can’t I?

  • Charles Jackson says:

    No, we need more points for leading laps!!!!!!!!!!

    They need to increase points and make sure it happens under green flag rules!!!

    Paying points to lead will make raceday better!!!

    Remember paying “points” not point, let leader at each 100 lap secment and this will put a rabbit in front of drivers and end this take a top 5 mentality!

    Nascar would be better off to devise a system like this instead of a ’simplier points system” that nobody seems to understand!

    We go to see a “good race” that day, not a point race!!!!

  • Andy D says:

    We don’t need to complicate things with fractional points or points to the second highest lap leader. Nor do we need to give “a lot more bonus points to the driver who leads the most laps”. We can also do not need to reinstate points awards to whomever is leading at the halfway point. Lap leader points should be disposed of altogether.

    Concentrate on the race winner. The people that run for the championship should be those who have the highest consistent finishing positions, not the most frequent guy who stayed out during cautions.

  • Al Benjamin says:

    Award one point for leading the most laps; if two or more drivers lead the same amount of laps, no points are given for that race.

    If a driver allows another driver to pass,even if he is a teammate,so he can “lead” a lap, both drivers should be parked for a lap. Enough giveaways. If you are going to win a race, earn it!

  • Terry says:

    My bad…..I thought that was already in the waste basket with the rules simplifacation. I guess it is still not simple enough for a ludite like me. Keep trying NASCAR….I know you are dumber than I am so you are qualified to drag the points down to my level.

  • Ray Saloomey says:

    I still say award 1/10th of a point for each lap led – that would make it worth fighting to actually lead the race! What a novel concept…………Don’t worry about awarding anything for most laps led – that would take care of itself.