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The Jet Dryer writes:
"A Subjective Look at Points Systems in Racing"
Posted by David on July 23, 2013
Viewed 836 times


The goal of every team in racing is to win the season-long championship. To do this, they must have accumulated the most points over the whole season (unless they race in the Sprint Cup Series, in which case they aim to have the most points after the 10-race "playoff" has concluded). But not every system is the same. Some give the title to the most conservative driver. Others give it to drivers with plenty of wins. In any case, the points system dictates the entire story of the season. Being a numbers guy, this kind of thing has always fascinated me. The point of this post is to show you several points scoring systems of well-known racing series. I will also subjectively grade them with a letter.

NASCAR points system
Distribution: 43-42-41-40-39-38-37-36-35-34-33-32-31-30-29-28-27-26-25-24-23-22-21-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Bonus points: +3 for winning, +1 for leading a lap, +1 for leading the most laps

Let us be brutally frank here. This system is horrible. It is the epitome of Brian France's incompetence at running NASCAR. It has virtually no incentive to win, or to even make a pass in the closing laps. It awards far too many points for a mid-pack finish. And then, on top of all that, we have the Chase to make matters even worse. In 2011, the very first year of its existence, it produces a tie between the top two drivers in the Cup series, causing the suits in Daytona Beach to think it is the best point system ever created, and then implement it for all NASCAR series for 2012. In actuality, the only advantage it has in its favor is simplicity. Simplicity is all well and good, but this abomination is insulting the intelligence of NASCAR's fanbase as a whole. Oh wait, this is NASCAR's fanbase we're talking about. Never mind...
Grade: D


IndyCar points system
Distribution: 50-40-35-32-30-28-26-24-22-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5
Bonus points: +1 for pole at all tracks except Indianapolis and Iowa, +1 for leading a lap, +1 for leading the most laps

I like this one, personally. While it isn't perfect, this system blends rewarding wins with rewarding consistently good finishes quite nicely. It has a 20% drop from first to second, which is good compared to NASCAR's attempt at "rewarding wins" (8.7%, including the win bonus). Tenth-place is worth 40% of the winner's points, which is good, certainly better than "Brian's joke" (73.9%, again, with the winner's bonus). While the qualifying points at Indianapolis can make for some goofy points totals (it's possible for the second-place finisher to score more points than the winner), it hardly affects my opinion of the overall system.
Grade: B+


ARCA points system
Distribution: 200-195-190-185-180-175-170-165-160-155-150-145-140-135-130-125-120-115-110-105-100-95-90-85-80-75-70-65-60-55-50-45-40-35-30-25-20-15-10-5-5-5-5
Bonus points: +25 for pre-entering and competing, +15 for pole, +10 for qualifying second, +5 for qualifying third, +5 for leading a lap, +5 for leading the most laps, +250 for entering and competing in each pre-designated five race leg of overall schedule

This is the older and slightly dumber cousin of the NASCAR points system (if that's possible). Seems that ARCA didn't care about wins at all when designing this one. They apparently care only about teams running the full schedule. Someone could enter in five races, start-and-park, and get 375 points just for that. That's not even including the race points (that depends on the size of the field). This, combined with the nonexistent reward for winning, make this easily the most ludicrous points system in use today.
Grade: D-


Formula One points system
Distribution: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 (if less than 75% of the scheduled distance is completed, half points are awarded; also you must complete 90% of the total laps to earn points)
Bonus points: none

This one works well in its niche. It would be quite radical if it were to be implemented in NASCAR, but hey, maybe radical is what that they need. This system rewards quite well for winning (28% drop from first to second) and consistently high finishes (obviously, nobody outside the top ten gets points, but Formula One fields are around 22-24 cars, depending on the year). Personally, I'm of the belief that all starters should get points, but that's just me. I would rate this at an A+, except that that would mean it would be perfect for all series, and that isn't the case.
Grade: A


Grand-Am points system
Distribution: 35-32-30-28-26-25-24-23-22-21-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (at Daytona, a minimum of 15th-place points are awarded, due to the large amount of entries)
Bonus points: none

At least the Frances didn't mess with this one. Other than that, there's not much to say about this one. It really doesn't have a reward for winning (8.6% drop from first to second) or finishing well consistently. Oh well, it could be worse.
Grade: D+


Latford system (old NASCAR system)
Distribution: 175 (180 from 2004-2006, 185 from 2007-2010)-170-165-160-155-150-146-142-138-134-130-127-124-121-118-115-112-109-106-103-100-97-94-91-88-85-82-79-76-73-70-67-64-61-58-55-52-49-46-43-40-37-34
Bonus points: +5 for leading a lap, +5 for leading the most laps

This one is no longer in use, but I'm including it because it is the predecessor of NASCAR's current system. Unfortunately, it has many of the same fallacies as the new one does. It was designed in 1974 by statistician Bob Latford. Latford was commissioned by NASCAR to design a system that would encourage teams to run the full schedule, and one that fans could understand. Teams did begin to run the full schedule, so it certainly accomplished that goal. Fans did understand it too. Fast forward 35 years, and suddenly no one understands the system, it takes a degree in college algebra to understand it, blah blah blah... For what it's worth, I understood it perfectly. Now, I realize that it is too much like the current system. It does award too many points to mid-pack finishes, and there was actually less incentive to win, even in the latter days (8.1% drop from first to second in the 2007-2010 version). This led to several championships that were outright statistical travesties (1985, 1996 to name a few). At least it served its purpose.
Grade: C

So, I hope you enjoyed this post, maybe even learned a thing or two. Tell me what you think; that's what the comment section is for. I know some will disagree with me, so all I ask is that you are respectful about it. Knowing this site, I won't be disappointed. Seeing as how this is my first real blog post, I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"Common sense is not so common." - Voltaire

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