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
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.
The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona had plenty of on and off track drama to keep everyone entertained. The off track suspension of A. J. Allmendinger is still playing out. An uncapped vent hose may or may not have been an unfair advantage for Tony Stewart. He won the race, anyway. Just let everyone leave that vent uncapped. End of controversy. As for what happened on the track, People seem to like the “win or crash” ending, so that behavior coming to the finish line probably won’t stop, anytime soon. I’m going to run a simulation that rewards drivers for finishing races on the lead lap, without accident or equipment failure. May cooler heads prevail. The standings in the current simulation I’m running are interesting. After 18 races, 8 drivers are within reach of the points lead. I hope that carries all the way through, to the end of the season.
Pos. Driver Car # PTS.
..1 Matt Kenseth #17 741
..2 Tony Stewart #14 719
..3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 717
..4 Jeff Gordon #24 712
..5 Brad Keselowski # 2 709
..6 Jimmie Johnson #48 707
..7 Greg Biffle #16 700
..8 Clint Bowyer #15 698
..9 Kasey Kahne # 5 686
10 Martin Truex Jr. #56 682
11 Kevin Harvick #29 681
12 Carl Edwards #99 673
13 Ryan Newman #39 663
14 Paul Menard #27 659
15 Joey Logano #20 659
16 Denny Hamlin #11 654
17 Kyle Busch #18 653
18 A J Allmendinger #22 644
19 Aric Almirola #43 633
20 David Ragan #34 615
21 Mark Martin #55 562
SPRINT CUP REALITY
The reality of all forms of competition is overlayed with controversy and drama. The dry statistics and cold numbers can never be enough to satisfy the basic needs in human nature. Very often, the priority leans more toward excitement than truth. The reality is that competition can never be completely separated from entertainment. That’s fine, from a promotional and emotional standpoint. Let people have their entertainment. The credibility of the game demands a higher standard. In that interest, the structure of the contest must conform to the way that performance is described and presented to the public.
The beginning of this competition is the first glaring disconnect from reality. Sprint Cup time trials are completely different from race conditions. The car setup is completely different than the settings for the actual long distance race. The repetition of car after car circling the track, separated by a few tenths of a second, is boring and monotonous. The remedy is to actually race for the qualifying positions. The format must be flexible enough to allow for variations in field of entry. The pace of the events must be quick enough to hold viewing attention.
I propose a qualifying structure of 8 lap races, consisting of 4 cars, each. Each driver would be required to complete a green flag pit stop to change a right rear tire. This stop would be completed after lap 2, and before lap 8. The winner of the quickest qualifying race wins the pole position and is awarded 2 points. The winners of the other races are placed in order of the elapsed time of their races.They are awarded 1 point. All caution periods and race stoppages are included in the elapsed time of the race. Caution laps do not count. The remaining drivers are seeded in a qualifying race of reasonable distance, according to the order of finish in their qualifying races. Regardless of number of entries, points are awarded to the first 17 drivers in the race field. The final qualifying race fills out the field of 43 cars. Real racing would sell more tickets and advertising. That would keep focus on the purpose of the contest, winning. Closure in the qualifying system would add greatly to anticipation of the race
The Standings, Race Results and Stats present Wins, Top 5s and Top 10s as though they were significant and important. Numerically, this is expressed only with a Win, being worth 5 points more than 2nd Place. I propose carrying that principle out into a sliding scale for 5th and 10th Places. 5th Place would be worth 4 points more than 6th Place. 10th Place would be worth 3 points more than 11th Place. The point structure would then match up with the description of activity in the sport.
THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Since the current format for selecting drivers to compete for the championship has created more controversy than resolution. While that may produce interest and media focus for promotional purposes, it does nothing for the integrity of the sport. There are far more real things that can be done. I propose a structure for this selection process that adds significance to each race. People should have something more significant to talk about, than celebrity gossip.
One of my complaints about The Chase is that it would be possible for a driver to be in the Top 12 of the Points Standings for 25 races, and still and still not be in contention for the Championship.
Credibility demands a more equitable system for selecting contenders. I propose a system that makes each race significant in the process, and rewards sustained performance.
I propose dividing the season into 3 segments. The first segment of 14 races, the second of 11 races, and concluded with The Chace. The segments are separated by points resets. A driver that is in the Top 10 for 7 of the first 14 races qualifies for the points reset. A restart after a caution period that includes lapped cars has a Lucky Dog. Any driver that fits that description would be a Lucky Dog for that segment of the season. The same rule would apply for drivers in this category for 6 of the middle 11 races.
Each race should also have a Lucky Dog. The driver with the best finish, who is not in the Top 10 going into that race, is the Lucky Dog for that race. At the point break, those drivers are sorted behind the Top 10, according to their points. As drivers are added to the eligible list for a points reset or The Chase, the choice of the Lucky Dog for each race is governed by that list. Basing eligibility for The Chase on performance in each race would add credibility to The Chase. The sport needs credibility in this critical area that is now dominated
HISTORY AND TRADITION
For decades, people have asked for reasons why the Daytona 500 is the biggest race on the schedule. I propose settling the argument, once and for all. The reality is that the Daytona 500 is the start of a new season, following a comparatively long off – season. The fans become accustomed to waiting a week between races. They wait months for the Daytona 500. The race should have significance above the other races. I propose that the winner of the Daytona 500 be the Lucky Dog for the season. It would be the only race of the season with that significance. That driver is in The Chase, for the rest of the season.
From my perspective, Joey Logano is one of the great stories of 2012. In the format that I’ve proposed, he wasn’t eligible for the 14th race points reset, until the last possible moment. That changed with a win that made him the Lucky Dog for that race. He did that as big as it can be done. He won the race from the pole. That is one of life’s great lessons. There is always something to be won. There is always hope, right to the end.
Matt Kenseth would be a great story in the format I’ve proposed. I would like to see how a driver performs, knowing that he has secured a place in The Chase. Since the news from week to week points out those who are taking significant steps toward a championship, that motivation would still remain. It would be interesting to see how the elevated status affects race strategy, over the course of a season.
I’ll close out with my list of the current Top 10 Standings for Sprint Cup 2012. Please note the records since the point reset going into Michigan It is certainly food for thought. A significant note here is that, after Race 17 at Kentucky, there are 11 drivers within numerical reach of the points lead. That can’t be said for the current points system. It remains to be seen how the comparison plays out after Race 25. The simulation of the 2011 says that the points should also be tighter, in this simulation.
Comments are always welcome. I’m sure that there are ideas I haven’t thought of.
Pos. Driver Car # TOT
1 Jimmie Johnson #48 698
2 Matt Kenseth #17 691
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 688
4 Clint Bowyer #15 681
5 Jeff Gordon #24 680
6 Greg Biffle #16 675
7 Brad Keselowski # 2 670
8 Tony Stewart #14 667
9 Kevin Harvick #29 659
10 Martin Truex Jr. #56 654
11 Kasey Kahne # 5 646
12 A J Allmendinger #22 644
13 Denny Hamlin #11 635
14 Carl Edwards #99 632
15 Kyle Busch #18 632
16 Paul Menard #27 628
17 Ryan Newman #39 618
18 Joey Logano #20 614
19 Aric Almirola #43 607
20 David Ragan #34 597
21 Mark Martin #55 562