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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Win the most races, win the title … Let’s bring it to NASCAR

It’s so simple, it’s amazing it took so long for a motorsports series to do it.

Win the most races, win the championship. That’s the plan Formula 1 will follow in 2009.

Some will call it radical, and argue that it’s not fair to the drivers who are consistently running up front all year but don’t win on a regular basis.

But they would be missing the point. Racing is about one thing … winning. When 43 cars line up each Sunday, one thing is on each one of their minds -- taking that checkered flag. Even the backmarkers are hoping lightning will strike, and it will start to rain during a set of pit stops and they’ll be the beneficiary and take the win. Nobody goes out there just because it’s fun.

First things first: I doubt this experiment will be tried in NASCAR any time in the near future. The long-standing NASCAR model is that the most consistent driver should win the championship. Even in the new Chase setup, the most consistent driver over those ten races is the series champ after Homestead.

It would require a major overhaul of the basic philosophy behind the sport, and I don’t see the France family as being anywhere close to visionary enough to attempt this.

But bear with me here, because this is a great idea that would have an excellent impact on the sport’s competitiveness. Take this scenario: Carl Edwards is chasing someone down for the lead, but is having trouble passing him. Currently, he’s thinking big picture, about how he needs to accumulate as many points as possible and won’t do a move too risky because it could come back to bite him if he wrecks in the process.

Under a biggest-winner-takes-all scenario, Edwards would know that he has to win as many races as possible to have the best chance at the title. Therefore, he will most definitely make a move for the win because it becomes the most important thing -- in a way, the ONLY important thing -- each week. I can guarantee you we would see more exciting finishes almost every week throughout the season, something that has been missing pretty often lately. Drivers would take more chances, both in the pits and on the track, in an attempt to get those oh-so-important wins.

For those who worry the track would turn into a demolition derby, the F1 plan still keeps a tally of points, and in the case of a tie in number of wins, the champion would be determined by whoever has the most points. So while drivers would be more aggressive, they would not be stupid. A driver who drove like an idiot to get wins would likely catch the wall many times and ruin his points standing, which would cripple him in the event of a tie at the end of the year.

Applying this system to the past (which admittedly, is flawed, because races would likely have turned out different) nets a different champion in most years. For instance, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman would have titles in the years they broke out with a large number of victories.

I respect the opinion of people who prefer crowning a champion based on consistency, as I recognize the importance of that. Drivers like Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick who run in the top 10 but don’t win all the time would essentially be removed from championship contention under this system.

But that’s the breaks. Those drivers would have to catch up to the Edwards-Johnson-Busch level if they wanted a shot at being champ.

This system, though it’s unlikely ever to cross the Atlantic, would be a brilliant way to increase interest in the sport and create more exciting races.

Some drivers might not like it … but letting the guy who wins most be the champ just makes sense.


Anonymous Long time NASCAR fan. said...

I agree 100% and I have been following NASCAR since the mid 60's.

March 18, 2009 at 8:59 AM 
Anonymous Richard in N.C. said...

Any idea endorsed by Max Moseley, of FIA, and Ed Hinton, by definition, has to be deeply flawed. Moseley clearly bears a grudge against the major F1 teams and it appears is determined to damage F1 to get revenge for their calls for his resignation.

Basing the Sprint Cup championship on wins alone would obviously lead to cherry-picking and would not likely identify the best driver for the year.

Sure do wish the media had bothered to look at F1 in 2007 when most everyone was writing about how Toyota was going to come in and blow everyone else away.

March 18, 2009 at 4:37 PM 

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