NASCAR may change points setup

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2003

ATLANTA Compared to the Bowl Championship Series, maybe the point system used in NASCAR isn't so bad after all.

While president Mike Helton and chairman Brian France said there may be some changes in the way a champion is crowned in the Craftsman Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup series, they warned against the expectation of a major shakeup.

The current system awards 175 points to the winner, 170 to second place and 165 to third. Bonuses of five points are given to every driver who leads at least one lap and another five points goes to the driver who leads the most laps.

There are no bonuses for winning pole positions. One idea that's been floated for several years is a plan to issue bonus points for winning a pole position and a bonus for winning the race.

The current system rewards consistency, not winning, critics said. Newly crowned champion Matt Kenseth won one race and no pole positions this year, while Ryan Newman finished sixth in the standings with 11 poles and eight race victories.

According to Jimmy Spencer, another idea under consideration is a plan to take the top 10 ranked drivers in the standings after 26 races and allow them to use the final 10 races of the season as a special playoff.

Essentially, the top 10 would start the points race over in the final 10 races to create excitement down the stretch instead of watching series leaders drive conservatively to sustain their leads.

FAN FEST AT DAYTONA: The annual fan fest that attracted more than 10,000 fans to Winston-Salem, N.C., each year will move to Daytona Beach, Fla.

The fan fests of the past were sponsored by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and it allowed fans to meet all of the drivers on the Craftsman Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup series, with proceeds going to a children's hospital.

Now that Nextel is the series sponsor for NASCAR's premier level, the fan fest was moved to the Daytona International Speedway to work in conjunction with two weeks of mandatory testing at the 2.5-mile raceway.

Half of the Nextel Cup Series teams will test at Daytona on Jan. 6-8; the other half on Jan. 13-15.

Drivers attending the first testing session will attend a fan fest scheduled for Jan. 7.

Drivers in the second test will attend Jan. 14.

The Craftsman Truck Series drivers will attend Jan. 10, while drivers from the Busch Series will attend on Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.

Each session will start at 5 p.m. and last five hours. Tickets for the Nextel Cup fan fests are $10 each, while tickets to the Busch and Craftsman Truck fan fests are $5.

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