Sprint Cup 2012 Michigan Update

     The GAP QUAL 100 simulation that I’m running on the current season shows some surprises. The bonus system that I’ve devised definitely opens up competition. No lead is safe. It is entirely possible for consecutive bad races to drop any driver out of the Top 12. The 1 – 2 – 5 – 10 point consecutive race lead lap finish bonus is definitely something worth winning. A performance like Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s 20 consecutive races on the lead lap demonstrably keeps a team in the hunt. We hear crew chiefs and drivers talk constantly about staying on the lead lap and getting a lap back. This is a factor that is something to be won, within the race. I really would like to see qualifying become a day of 10 or 11 4 – car races of 8 laps each. With a green flag pit stop between laps 3 and 8 to change a right rear tire, SPEED channel would definitely have a much more interesting presentation.

     With the race lineups set by the incoming point standings, there would be variation in the race lineups from week to week. The incentive to stay out of trouble should be obvious to the drivers. Eventually, 4 drivers would figure out that pitting at the same time and running a 4 car draft would have the best
chance of setting fast time and winning the pole. With the elapsed time of the race counted from green to checkers, they wouldn’t want any caution laps. The race winners are in the race day field. The pole winner gets 10 points. The rest of
the qualifying race winners get 5 points. The remainder of the drivers are seeded into the grid for a 50 lap qualifying race. The winner gets 5 points. The next 9 positions get 1 point.

In this current simulation, the current standings have 36 points covering the Top 5. 153 points cover the Top 12. That is fairly tight, by the standards of previous years, expressed as a percentage of the leader’s point total. it compares very favorably with past years. The point resets after races 14 and 25 give everyone a fresh start to their season. The Lucky Dog format gives everyone the opportunity to race their way into the Chase For The Championship, right through the end of the season. It certainly beats watching 12 competitors and 31 pace cars. Here’s the standings, in My Perfect Little World. Oh ….. I almost forgot. Greg Biffle is not the current leader in this simulation.

Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, and Ryan Newman have 2 races left to secure a Lucky Dog position in The Chase. Newman is in the Top 12, but Busch and Burton haven’t been in that status enough to have a chance to get into
The Chase by being in the Top 12 for 6 of the 11 races. Their only chance is to be the Lucky Dog for a race. They have to be the best finish of any driver not in the Top 12, to do that. The next 2 races should be made more interesting by the format of this simulation. During The Chase, there are 11 opportunities for all of the remaining drivers to race their way into The Chase. The difference could be a significant improvement in their place in the point standings.

1 Jimmie Johnson  1841
2 Jeff Gordon         1833*
3 Greg Biffle           1830
4 Kasey Kahne       1818*
5 Brad Keselowski 1805
                                                           36 points = 1.955% of leader’s point total.
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1763
7 Martin Truex Jr.     1755
8 Matt Kenseth         1714
9 Tony Stewart         1713
10 Clint Bowyer        1705
11 Ryan Newman      1693
12 Marcos Ambrose 1688*
                                                        153 points = 8.31% of leader’s point total
13 Kevin Harvick 1633
14 Carl Edwards 1594*                  Both percentages are close to the tightest  

                                                          standings in the past 30 years. 

15 Kyle  Busch 1589*
16 Denny Hamlin 1584*                                   YEAR            TOP 5                    TOP 10
17 Paul Menard 1574
18 Joey Logano 1426                                        2006              2.27%                     6.92%
19 Jeff Burton 1386                                           2005             1.94%                      8.56% 
20 Juan Pablo Montoya 1347                           1992              3.26%                    11.65%
21 Aric Almirola 1325                                         1984              6.17%                    19.19%
22 Kurt Busch 1315
23 Mark Martin 1260                          I note here that the 603 points separating these                                                                                                                                    

                                                              24 positions is smaller than the Top 10
24 David Ragan 1238                         in many of the past 30 seasons. Of course, the  

                                                             point structure was bigger in those years.
* Secured Lucky Dog                        It remains for the end of the season to see the

                                                             percentage comparison.
position in The Chase                      The current percentage is 32.75%. In some  

                                                             years, it wouldn’t be possible to calculate the
                                                             percentage without deducting the point bonus

                                                            given in the Chase.

                                  THE GAP QUAL 100 POINT STRUCTURE

1. The Base Points Structure is a 1 to 100 point structure. From 100, the awarded points drop down from the top in 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 increments until the 25 point level is reached. From that point, single point increments take it down
to 1 point awarded for 43rd place.

2. The Laps Led Bonus is a simple 10 points for the most laps led. Single point awards are made for drivers who also led laps. The information provided at http://www.nascar.com is the source for that information.

3. The Qualifying Points Bonus. I envision qualifying becoming a day of 4 – car races of 8 laps, with a green flag pit stop to change a right rear tire, after the completion of Lap 3. In this simulation, I’ve awarded 10 points to the pole winner,
5 points to the other winners of the qualifying races. 2nd through 10th place in a subsequent 50 lap qualifying race receive 1 point.

4. The Lucky Dog Bonus is a 10 point award to the driver, not in the Top 12, with the best finish in a race. The rules are very simple. In this simulation, the season is divided into 3 parts. The first segment of 14 races determine the point standings
and Lucky Dog status of the drivers, going into a point reset after that race. In this first segment, the drivers that are in the Top 12 and/or have secured Lucky Dog status are inelegible to receive the award again. The drivers in the Top 12 and
those who secured Lucky Dog status are ranked accordinng to the Base Points Structure. No driver starts the next season segment with fewer points than had been accrued. In the second segment of 11 races, the Lucky Dog award has a dual
purpose. Drivers who did not secure qualification for the point reset are retroactively awarded that status, and retroactively enter at the bottom of the reset roster. They must win the Lucky Dog award again, to secure a position in The Chase.

     The other option is to be in the Top 12 after race 25. Drivers who qualified for the race 14 point reset secure a position in The Chase. The third segment, The Chase For The Sprint Cup, becomes a simple entry into the chase, race by race.
The Lucky Dog for each of the last 11 races enter the reset roster at the bottom of the point reset structure, chronologically.

     The point reset fields are filled out with those drivers who are not in the Top 12 or have secured Lucky Dog status, but meet the following criteria. They must have been in the Top 12 for the prior season segment for 7 of the first 14 races, or 6 of the 11 races in the middle segment. Since there is no point reset at the end of the season, each race Lucky Dog enters The Chase retroactively, entering the bottom of the Chase field.

5. The Consecutive Lead Lap Finish Bonus is a 1 – 2 – 5 – 10 point system that levels out at 10 points at 4 consecutive lead lap finish races. Finishing a race outside of the lead lap resets to 0. The points make finishing on the lead lap a significant priority. If it gave the drivers pause for thought and dissuaded drivers from moving up to set the stage for the “4 Wide Jackpot” at Daytona or Talledega. I believe that the drivers that create these dangerous situations should be
penalized 10 points, if an accident results.



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