Winners: 2011 NASCAR Champions

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Austin Dillon
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Tony Stewart

Monday, August 16, 2010


I love NASCAR, have since I was a teenager and I watched Jeff Gordon win the inaugural Brickyard 400. I love the smell of burnt rubber and racing fuel, and I still get chills every time the engines fire. I love the competition, I love the speed, I love the action. I always have since that fateful day, and I always will.

It would take an awful lot to get me to abandon this sport. Even given that, I realize the sport is not perfect. There are some things I would like to see done to make the sport more exciting. I would like to see tweaks in the points system, I would like to change up the schedules and I would like to continue tweaking on the race cars.

Below are things I would do if I were the CEO & Chairman of NASCAR.

-The race winner will receive 200 points. The second-place finisher will receive 175 points, and the points awarded will decrease by five for each subsequent position through 30th. Any driver who finishes 31st or worse will not receive points -- in part to cut down on drivers who are involved in a wreck, spend 50 laps in the garage and come back to ride around and get in the way in the interest of a few more points. It would also make it hard for drivers who record DNFs to record points (though prize money will not be affected).

-The 5-point bonus for leading a lap will be done away with (honestly, should a guy who leads one lap all day because he stayed out under caution receive bonus points?). Bonus points will be awarded for: leading the most laps (5), leading at halfway (5), leading 100 laps (5), leading 200 laps (5) and winning the pole (10).

EXAMPLE: Jimmie Johnson wins the pole at Dover, giving him 10 bonus points. He goes on to lead the most laps -- 274 -- en route to winning the race, though he does not lead at halfway. Johnson will get 5 points for leading the most laps, 5 points for leading 100 laps and 5 points for leading 200 laps, giving him 15 more bonus points. For the weekend, Johnson gets 25 bonus points, on top of the 200 points he gets for winning the race. Johnson's efforts net him 225 total points.

-Ideally, these changes to the points system will reward both winning and consistency. Not awarding points to drivers who finish 31st or worse helps reward consistency, while the 25-point difference between first and second place accentuates the value of winning. Bonus points for lap-leading and pole-winning serve as further incentives for drivers to go all-out through the entire weekend.

-The Top 35 qualifying rule in the Sprint Cup Series (Top 30 for the Nationwide Series) will be eliminated; in both series, the 36 fastest times will qualify, and there will be six slots for provisionals. Every team will receive five provisionals for the season, and the past champions' provisional will be available on an unlimited basis for the most recent champion who does not qualify. In the Camping World Truck Series, the top 35 speeds will qualify, with the 36th spot going to the past champions' provisional. If the provisional is not needed, the top 36 speeds will qualify.

-With the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang establishing a presence in the Nationwide Series, NASCAR will require GM and Chevrolet to find a way to bring the Chevrolet Camaro into the series to replace the Impala. The Nationwide Series will become a pony car series, and the Impala is not a race car (hell, my grandparents have one). Neither is the Toyota Camry; if Toyota wants to continue competing in the Nationwide Series, it will have to introduce a pony car that will be built on American soil and made available to the public.

-Pony cars will eventually be introduced to the Sprint Cup Series as well, because American motorsports are based on the thrill of speed and exhilaration -- and let's face it, the Impala, Camry and Fusion do not inspire such feelings. The Sprint Cup Series car will also see a series of design changes, including a re-design of the front splitter. The new design will remove the splitter braces and curve the edges of the splitter, so they can't cut down tires. The re-designs will also look to blend the safety features of the current-generation car with the aesthetics of the last generation -- while also re-introducing brand identity to the manufacturers.

-The vehicles in the Camping World Truck Series will remain largely unchanged, though it will also see a new design to the front splitter. Much like the Sprint Cup Series car, the Camping World Trucks will remove the splitter braces and see a more rounded edge to the splitters.

-I don't necessarily hate the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but I will do away with it. All three series will run the length of their respective schedules, and the driver who has the most points at the end of the season will be the champion. However, full-time Sprint Cup drivers who run Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series races will not receive points in those series.

-The Nationwide Series will have more standalone races in an attempt to take the series focus away from moonlighting Sprint Cup drivers and put it back on the young up-and-comers an driver development. Full-time Sprint Cup drivers who are in the top 35 in Sprint Cup points will be allowed to run no more than 14 Nationwide Series races in a season -- half the schedule. This limitation will also apply to Sprint Cup drivers in the Camping World Truck Series.

-Both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedules will be cut; the Sprint Cup schedule will be reduced from 36 points-paying races to 30, with both exhibition races remaining in place. The Nationwide Series schedule will be reduced from 35 races to 28. This will be accomplished in part by taking away dates from tracks with two dates, as well as awarding races to tracks not currently on the schedule. The Camping World Truck Series schedule will remain 25 races.

-Below are the three national touring schedules I would propose. It will be listed in Sprint Cup/Nationwide/Camping World Truck Series format, with OFF denoting an off weekend for the series. NOTE: I realize I listed tracks that NASCAR no longer runs in, but seeing as how this is entirely hypothetical, I went with it.

Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (exhibition race)/OFF/OFF
Las Vegas/Atlanta/Rockingham
Sprint All-Star Challenge at Charlotte (exhibition race)/OFF/Texas
Pocono/Milwaukee Mile/Michigan
New Hampshire/New Hampshire/OFF
Michigan/Road America/Iowa
Indianapolis/ORP/New Hampshire
Watkins Glen/Watkins Glen/Watkins Glen
Darlington/Gateway/Las Vegas
Phoenix/Nashville/North Wilkesboro

So there you have it, my ideas for "fixing" NASCAR. I'm sure some of you will love all these ideas, while others will likely hate everything I've written above. But please, feel free to leave your comments below.

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