The New NASCAR Rules Are Terrible. Here Are Better Ones.

If you didn’t notice, NASCAR is at it again. They are changing their points system in an effort to make the racing more exciting, more thrilling for the fans. The new points structure will be implemented across all three of NASCAR’s national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series). The changes have been made to increase aggressive racing and strategy. Because when I watch NASCAR, I immediately think, “this is great but what it needs is more aggression!”

The Chase is gone, but in term only. In its place is the more traditional “Playoffs”.

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Why? Seriously, Why?

To recap, the new format includes the following:

  • Races will now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage.
  • The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points.
  • The winner of the first two stages of each race will receive one playoff point, and the race winner will receive five playoff points. Each playoff point will be added to his or her reset total following race No. 26, if that competitor makes the playoffs.
  • All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs (Round of 8), with the Championship 4 racing straight-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.
  • Championship points following the first two stages will be awarded on a descending scale, with the stage winner receiving 10 points, second receiving 9 points, and so on.
  • The race winner following the final stage will now receive 40 points, second-place will receive 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on.

“Simply put, this will make our great racing even better,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “I’m proud of the unprecedented collaboration from our industry stakeholders, each of whom had a common goal – strengthening the sport for our fans. This is an enhancement fully rooted in teamwork, and the result will be an even better product every single week.”

NASCAR has become enormous and if it is not careful this constant tweaking of the rules could kill the golden goose.

NASCAR also announced points bonuses for the highest finishers during the regular season. The newly crowned regular season champ will receive 15 playoff points that will be added to the driver’s playoff reset of 2,000. In addition, the top-10 drivers in points leading into the playoffs will receive playoff points, with second place receiving 10 playoff points, third place will earn 8 points, fourth place will receive 7 points, and so on. All playoff points will carry through to the end of the Round of 8.

Does this not feel needlessly complicated to anyone else? I don’t understand why NASCAR, which is the most popular spectator sport in America has to keep fiddling with the formula. They got away with it with the original Chase. They even got away with it when they tweaked the Chase again and again, despite the fans imploring them to stop. Now it would appear they have gone a bridge too far. I don’t disagree with the fact that NASCAR races can drone on, but clearly there are better ways than this.

The Solution

Frankly I have always been a proponent of the old school local track method of racing, with a splash of Rally Cross. You host qualifying and then split the field into 4 races. Qualifying determines starting position in each of these races. These top finishers qualify for the Semi Finals. The top finishers would advance to the Final while the bottom finishers would go to a Last Chance Qualifier. The top 3 (for example) would advance on to the Final. Now your landmark events would continue as they exist now. So races like the Daytona 500, Southern 500 etc. would not be effected to keep in line with the sports history.

NASCAR may be the big time, but they could learn a few lessons from their small time cousins.

This gives fans 8 races on race day. There would be built in breaks between rounds for tracks to sell more food or beer or whatever. More time for commercials (that will keep sponsors happy) that don’t interfere with racing action (which will keep fans happy). The total distance wouldn’t be different from the race distances now. For example you can plot the distance for each round to match the distance the traditional race would cover. Obviously the LCQ would add some distance for teams involved but not much you make it a sprint, not pit stops just an all out thrash to the finish.

Also,if they must have a Chase or Playoffs or whatever they want to call it go back to the way it was at first. Ditch the different rounds and just keep it simple.

I know it is a deviation from the norm but it isn’t as bad, as crazy as the new format. Plus it has its roots in local short track racing. A lot of the hardcore fans know this style already so the transition period would be minimal. As for the casual fans that this change is clearly targeting, They don’t have the burden of history of tradition holding them back so shorter races with more action, pretty sure they’d be ok with it. Plus as an added bonus for everyone my system is way easier to follow than the new format. Simplicity, is eventually going to be the key. If becomes too much work for fans to follow they will stop watching, simple as that.

Written by Chad Kennedy

Chad burst from the womb wearing a racing suit and a helmet. Chad's passion for cars is in his very DNA. His father was a gear head and passed on the tradition through owning such classics as a '66 Mustang and a '59 Corvette all while taking him to various race tracks in the area. Chad likes to wrench on his rides whenever possible, forgoing the stealership. Chad is an avid motorsports fan with particular interest in endurance/sports car racing. When not online writing for Shifting Lanes, you can find him working at the local golf course teaching people how to swing or hooning a golf cart at impossible speeds.


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