SBD/January 24, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Helton Indicates NASCAR Nearing Simpler Scoring System

Helton says goal is to make new points system easy to understand
NASCAR President Mike Helton Friday "strongly indicated the points system used since 1975 will be scrapped for a simpler scoring method," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Helton, speaking from Daytona Int'l Speedway, said, "The goal for some time has been to create a points system that is easy to understand, easy to explain, easy to be talked about, but also be credible at the end of the season. ... We're in the middle of the conversations, actually telling the competitors where our mind is. The main goal is to get one that's just easier to understand and simpler. And we're close." Helton "defended NASCAR's credibility, which many fans are questioning because the changes are so close to the start of the season and how the championship will be won hasn't been formally announced." Because NASCAR officials "want feedback from competitors," Helton said that the "rule changing process takes time." He added that that approach "legitimizes the changes" (AP, 1/21). In Charlotte, Brant James reported it "appears the only detail left, or at least [to] confirm, is a mechanism for using bonus points to reward wins." Helton said that "most of the 'stakeholders' ... consulted during the process have lined up dutifully behind any and all changes in the name of placating fans" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/23). Driver Kevin Harvick said, "If you look at the new point system, I think it's easy to understand. And those are the people that need to understand it are the people who aren't here every week, live it, breathe it, and really understand how the sport works. It's the casual fan that we need to recapture and make it exciting and easily understandable" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/22).  

RACE TO WIN: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes, "The new system will be logical and easier to explain." But "simple isn't enough." Fowler: "I’m worried that NASCAR’s new way to keep score still won’t put nearly enough emphasis on winning, in which case the whole idea falls flat once again." Helton "seems sensitive to this issue," and Fowler noted after listening to him speak Friday, "I'm convinced the first-place finisher will undoubtedly get a bonus of some sort." But the winner of each race "better be rewarded far more lavishly than he ever has before" (THATSRACIN.com, 1/21). Driver David Ragan said, "Everyone knows they're going to use that one-through-43 thing. I think all that's left to figure out are the bonus points. I think they want to make winning more important" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/22). Meanwhile, former driver and current ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett said that NASCAR "should put more emphasis upon taking the checkered flag and upon rewarding winning drivers monetarily." Jarrett: "There needs to be a bigger premium put on winning. ... The PGA pays almost a million dollars to the winner of an event. I don't see why we can't come somewhat close to that" (USATODAY.com, 1/22).

LACKING EXCITMENT: ESPN.com's David Newton wrote the proposed points system "raises the excitement meter like watching" a test session in the rain. It "promotes consistency over winning more than ever and opens the door for drivers and teams playing it safe more than ever." But it "doesn't fix what ails the sport." It "might be simpler to understand," but "were fans and drivers really confused by the old system?" NASCAR "will tell you it was a primary concern," but, as Jimmie Johnson "reminded us, it won't put fannies in seats and improve television ratings." Johnson: "I don't think it's a huge strategy to engage the fans more from an attendance standpoint or a viewer standpoint" (ESPN.com, 1/21).    
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