Bernhardt: Hurray for NASCAR's new point system

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2011

NASCAR announced they’re giving serious consideration to the idea of overhauling the points system for the sake of simplicity and to place more emphasis on winning.
At the time of that announcement, you could literally stick your head outside and hear the cries of joy from both fervent and even marginal fans of the sport. The guys in the suits in Daytona Beach finally got the message.
If they actually do it, it will not only pump new life into a great sport, but it will spare me the future embarrassment of trying to explain the current points system to new fans.
Truth is, I never understood it anyway.
Kyle Petty, speaking on PRN’s Fast Talk, gave the best explanation of the current points system I’ve heard in years: “It rewards consistency.” Period.
Even if that sounds like a good idea to you, consider the fact that if we applied the same system of scoring to the NFL, the Washington Redskins might actually make it to the Super Bowl each year for their “consistently” mediocre performance during the regular season. Think of it. You wouldn’t necessarily have to win, you would just have to be consistent.
How many of us watch the Super Bowl each year to root for the most consistent team? I thought so.
Here’s a universal fact: Sports is about winning. And any scoring system in any sport should have that fact as a foundation.
I doubt that Gaius Appuleius Diocles, the Jimmie Johnson of second century chariot racing, climbed out of his chariot after a fifth place finish gushing about his “great points day.” Yet that’s the system NASCAR has created in recent years.
Race fans pay and deserve to see drivers beating and banging their way to the front of the pack. That’s what gets our adrenaline flowing and what keeps us coming back for more. I’ve yet to meet the race fan who tells me they’re at the track today to see Junior have a great points day.
I’m also all for the simplicity thing.
Baseball became the national pastime because it is a simple sport; a bat, a ball, three outs. A four year old can understand baseball. Explain the current NASCAR points system to that same four year old, and all you’ll get is a glazed look and a lot of drooling.
NASCAR should be that simple. You build a fast car. You hire a driver who knows what to do with it. That driver and his team do everything under the sun to WIN. That’s all we should have to figure out.
So NASCAR, we’re rooting for you. You gave us “have at it boys” last year, and we actually saw better racing on the track. We know you can do it.
Give us that simple points system that has winning as a foundation, and your pulse will grow stronger with each passing race.
Keep the same confusing system that rewards even drivers who fail to win during the season with a Chase position, and you’ll reap the same diminishing returns that have dogged you in recent years.
It’s all up to you.