Sunday, August 3, 2003

NASCAR to consider points system change

Winners would get bigger rewards

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - NASCAR is considering changing its championship points system to give bigger rewards for winning poles and races. The current system favors consistency over winning.

The system, which began in 1975 and is often criticized, has been under attack this season while Matt Kenseth has built a whopping 232-point lead in the championship race with just one win but a string of top-10 finishes.

"We are reviewing the points system, as we often do when there is talk about one driver having so big of a lead that it looks like the championship will be decided before the season is over," NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said Saturday.

"So we will look at every viable option and at the end of the year apply it to the point standings and see how things might have been different."

One of the scenarios NASCAR is looking at is awarding a sizable points bonus to the race winner - anywhere from an additional 10 points to 50 - and giving a bonus for winning the pole.

Other options include awarding the same amount of points to drivers who finish 30th through 43rd, or not awarding any points after 36th position. Both of those scenarios would make it pointless for damaged cars to return to the race track.

NASCAR already has applied all those scenarios to past seasons and found that it never changed the series champion, Hunter said.

The current NASCAR points system was created by Bob Latford, who died July 23. Latford invented the system on a request from NASCAR head Bill France Sr.

Under the current system:

• The winner of a race gets 175 points.

• Second through sixth get five fewer points than the preceding place.

• Seventh through 11th get four fewer points than the previous place.

• Twelfth and lower get three fewer points than the preceding place.

• All 43 places are awarded points, unlike many other major racing series that stop giving points after certain positions.

• Drivers who lead a lap earn five bonus points.

• The driver who leads the most laps in a single race earns five additional bonus points.

That format has created scenarios in which drivers choose not to risk much in going after victories when a top-10 finish will suffice.

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