It’s expected that the sanctioning body will abandon the system it has used since 1975 and adopt one that awards 43 points to the winner, 42 for second place and so on, down to one point for last place. There are likely to be criteria for bonus points, which may include winning a race and leading the most laps.
Can’t get much simpler than that.
It is certainly much more basic than the traditional system which gives 175 points to the winner and decreases in increments of five points and then three. Thirty-four points are awarded for last place. Five-point bonuses are given, each, for leading a lap and leading the most laps.
Compared to the anticipated new system all of this is downright complicated.
But it’s not nearly as convoluted as some systems NASCAR has used in the past. Rocket scientists couldn’t have figured them out.
Just as an example, in 1967 Richard Petty won 27 races including 10 in a row. He earned 42,472 points – you read it right – and beat James Hylton for the Grand National championship by 6,028 points.
In 1971, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. became the sponsor of what became the Winston Cup Series. It established a $100,000 point fund. Petty won the championship – again over Hylton – by earning 4,435 points.
That’s a mere fraction of the points he earned in 1967. But that was because NASCAR simplified its point system in 1968, one year after Petty’s dominance. But it was still unwieldy.
It got even more so in 1972. Back then computers would have had to be used to figure it all out. There were no computers.
The Winston Cup schedule was reduced to races of 250 miles or more, which meant the end of the 100-milers at the short tracks. There were 31 races that year, a significant drop from the sometimes more than 50 in previous seasons.
NASCAR again overhauled its point system. Where it once awarded points based on finishing positions in each race – get this, the winner got 150 points at a race of 400 miles or more, 100 at a 250-mile event and 50 for a 100-miler – instead, for 1972, the system would be based upon mileage completed in competition.
Big Bill France decided a system based on laps completed would end the practice of starting a race and then pulling out after a few laps.
Under the system instituted in ’72, the race winner would be rewarded with 100 points accompanied by a drop of two points per position thereafter. Then lap bonus points would be awarded.
The individual lap points were broken down into six categories, depending upon the size of the track – hard to believe, but true.
For tracks under a mile, 0.25-point was awarded for each lap led. One-mile tracks presented 0.50-point. Darlington, at 1.3 miles, offered 0.7-point per lap. Tracks 1.5 miles in size meant 0.75-point per lap. A two-mile track was good for one point for each lap. Finally, the 2.5-mile speedways granted 1.25 points per lap.
Whew! You got all that? I’m not sure anyone around in ’72 did.
When it came to the system’s approval, competitors were split. The low-dollar teams – some of which had routinely made early exits from races – liked it because they could rumble around the track on a Sunday joyride and pile up points. The more they earned the more money they received.
The top teams didn’t like it. They were going all out for victories, which meant they ran a great risk of mechanical problems, which subsequently could affect their final outcome in the point standings.
In any case the system was ridiculously complicated.
It didn’t last long. The story goes that in 1974, another system was developed on a cocktail napkin at a Daytona bar. Credit is given to the late Bob Latford, a public relations official, statistician and historian.
The system was implemented in 1975 and has been in place ever since. Yes, it’s not the easiest thing to figure out, but it’s much better than the advanced calculus NASCAR previously used.
If the new system comes into being it won’t be universally popular, of course.
But it sure will be simpler.
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