The point system sucks. This is true in almost every discipline of racing. I?m not quite sure why. There is usually a "winning vs. consistency" argument with personal pride mixed in. Deciding the champion based on the number of wins sounds nice, but devalues the DNF; while deciding the champion based on average finish can be thrown off by a driver who starts one race and wins. I know a lot of people like to try and write up their own version of how the point system should operate, and I am no different. That said, there are right and wrong ways to write a point system, and there are right and wrong point systems for each series.
Starting with Sprint Cup; again, I hate The Chase. I believe every race should be of equal value to determining the champion. On the other hand, the Winston-era point system was no prize pig. Second place earned 5 points less than the winner, but if the second place driver leads the most laps, he wins as many as the winner (assuming the winner lead one lap [which always happens unless the original winner is disqualified]). NASCAR tried to amend this by giving the winner an extra 5 points. But what are 5 points really worth?
When see points as a percentage, we learn who is earning what in relation to the race winner. When second place is earning 100%, we have a pretty big problem. NASCAR?s 5-point-addition changed the worst case scenario from 100% to 97.3% (rounding to the nearest tenth of a percent). I think an ideal point system should give the second place finisher 70-84% of the winner?s points.
The next factor is where to stop awarding points. While NASCAR may give points to the last-place driver, F1 only awards points to the top half of the field. In either case, the last driver to earn points usually receives 10% of the winner?s points.
Then breaks have to be added to the system. Admittedly, the Winston-era system was pretty efficient here (ugly as it may look to the untrained eye). The top-5 was separated by 5 points, the rest of the top 10 were separated by 4 points, and everyone else was separated by 3 points. The locations of these breaks have to vary from one discipline to the next because a podium in OW is as prestigious as a top-5 in stock car racing.
Finally, bonus points play a role. These can be affected by the number of races in the series. For example, the Winston-era points offered 5 points for leading a lap; however, as the number of races in a year increases, the importance of leading a lap in every race increases. Today a Sprint Cup driver who leads a lap in every race will earn 180 points; the same amount a driver would receive for running a 37th race, finishing second, and leading the most laps! The Chase actually seems to help in this situation.
Incidentally, I was watching a Champ Car race a few years back and noticed that a damaged car went to the pits for repairs only to return to the track in qualifying trim with the intention of earning bonus points for the fastest single lap of the race. That sounds like a more pleasant alternative to having slow, damaged cars act as rolling chicanes.
Taking these lessons into account, we can now attempt to write our own point systems (or at least correct ones that exist).
The IRL could most benefit from reducing points paid after the 15th place driver. Formula One is too difficult to critique as there are too many new teams with questionable finances to make expectations regarding the 2010 season. NASCAR needs to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Chase with post-Winston-era points is a bad idea docked with an idea that?s past its prime. I?d like to submit the following as a top-down replacement:
I?ve tested it a few times and I think it works pretty well, but it?s pretty safe to assume that the drivers alter their habits around different systems. This system is by no means perfect. Placing a break after the top-7 is an awkward transition point. The important thing is that it?s better than most of the popular alternatives.
Now that we?ve gone over the formulas important to writing a point system, try creating your own to see what you can make.
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