Opinion: What's the Point?

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

The Sprint Cup Series has two races in the books so far this season, and a long way to go until the champion is crowned. (Photo: Getty Images)

NASCAR has a new championship point system in place this year. But there’s a very old problem.

Too much talk about points racing was too early in the season.

It doesn’t matter whether the system NASCAR had used since 1975 was still in place or if today’s simplified 43-1 plan is being utilized. Focusing on a championship picture only two races into the year is a waste of time.

But yet we heard it loud and clear this past weekend in Phoenix coming from both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series. Drivers, crew chiefs, team owners and, yes the media, all talking about valuable points and where people are in the standings.

It’s on par with spotlighting the pennant races after a month of the baseball season. Or projecting playoff pairings with two weeks of the NFL year in the books.

So why is it that so many insist on putting undue focus on the stock car championship system? It’s true that the new system will most likely impact this year’s point titles more than the previous format. Overcoming DNFs and poor finishes will be a much more difficult task.

But is it really necessary to create a points story line with only two weekends of racing completed?

Even with the new declare a championship plan in place it seems ridiculous to put anything but modest emphasis on who stands where in the point race.

One of the reasons is the Daytona 500 is so enjoyable every year is not just because it’s the first race of the year and the sport’s biggest event of the season but that “The Great American Race” brings with it a winning is the only thing goal. You never hear a driver say they’d just like to come out of Daytona with a good points day. The 500 is all about the race itself and winning, a welcome relief from the sometimes tedious practice of calculating numbers and positions that becomes so commonplace as the year moves on.

Those who oppose the Chase point to the system eliminating the individuality of each race as an event. Fans buy a ticket to see a great race not to sit in the grandstands with pencil and paper adding up where drivers finish to figure out how the championship will be decided.

Yet last week in Phoenix there was an outcry from some that ESPN2 reporters didn’t talk to more Nationwide regular drivers who weren’t a factor in the race but simply because they were ranked high in the point standings.

Forget the fact that Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards dominated the race and two other Sprint Cup drivers in Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman swept the top four finishing positions. Some were incensed 15th-place finishing Joe Nemechek (never a factor in the 200-lap race) didn’t get a post race interview since after all he was fourth in the series point standings.

Perhaps we should just dial the title talk until it starts to mean something perhaps like in June?

I’m the biggest Cubs fan in the world but won’t get too excited if the team starts the season by stringing together a few wins. It’s a long year that has a lot of peaks and valleys from April through September.

It’s no different in NASCAR. There’s no need to overly focus on the championship picture when the calendar has just turned to March.

It’s pointless.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup

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