SBD/January 26, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bruton Smith Says NASCAR May Have To Consider Scrapping Chase

Bruton Smith advocates big difference between first and second place prize money
SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith yesterday said that it "may be time for NASCAR to starting thinking about scrapping the Chase completely," according to Bob Pockrass of Smith: "It started off as a good idea but maybe it's time to look for something (else). I know it's not as exciting to the fans now as it was initially. ... I think it started off being very important, but I don't think it's as important as maybe we thought it would be." SMI tracks host three races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but Smith said he "isn't sure those tracks need the Chase to sell tickets." Smith: "We may be looking around here in another year or two and maybe we have done something differently and we no longer have the Chase." Meanwhile, NASCAR is "expected to announce changes to its points system," and Smith yesterday "reiterated his longtime plea for the share of the race winner's purse to be increased." He said he wants a "big difference between first and second place." Smith: "As a race fan, I'm going to get very interested. What if it is $400,000 difference between first and second? You know there's going to be a fight to the finish on that one." He added, "I don't care what you do with the points. ... We can cure this whole thing with the purse" (, 1/25). Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-Owner Felix Sabates said of the prospective changes to the points system, "I think is great to change it because the system we have right now, I will never figure it out. ... I think that they need to give the four worst races of the year and throw them away. So only count, for the Chase, only count 22 of 26 races. That would change the whole dynamics of the Chase" (, 1/24). NASCAR team Owner Richard Childress: "I'm for whatever's good for the sport, whatever's good for our fans. If it simplifies it to where the fans can understand it better I'm for that." Driver Clint Bowyer: "I've been on the way home several times trying to figure out where I was points-wise, especially toward the end of the season. I'd have to wait until Monday morning on when it's official" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/26).

CHANGE IS COMING:'s Bruce Martin wrote of the proposed changes to the points system, "Knowing NASCAR, it wouldn't have floated these ideas around unless it intends to make a change. ... Will a new system help to simplify a cumbersome and often confusing points breakdown? The answer seems to be a resounding yes." But Martin added, "Unless a significant bonus is given to winning races, will the new points system really be much of a change? Again, it will be simpler to understand, but it may not provide the necessary incentive for drivers to race all out, all the time" (, 1/24). In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis wrote, "Whatever system they adopt -- and it's pretty obvious it'll be based on a 1-to-43 point scale per race -- it'll be an improvement, but won't be quite as good as it could be." He added, "I expect a small glitch involving the bonus points. And this, it goes without saying, will continue to happen" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/25). In Michigan, Steve Kaminski wrote, "They say they want to make the points distribution system easier to understand. Well, we have managed to survive just fine with the current system for the past 35 seasons, and considering how the TV people update the point standings every five minutes during the weekly broadcasts, it's really not a problem. Let's wait and see what the new system is before we break it down, but this appears to be another attempt by NASCAR chairman Brian France to win back viewers" (, 1/25).

KEEPING IT SHORT AND SWEET: With Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill indicating he would like to see some NASCAR races shortened, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "Everything should be shortened in sports. It's a very good idea" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/25). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "Everything in sports today is too long. People are trying to shorten baseball games. NASCAR: Keep it short, keep it more understandable. Bring it back to the average fan." But Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "The only people that complain are sportswriters and executives at networks. The people love it" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25).
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