January 21, 2011
NASCAR confirms rule changes
By Sports Network
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR president Mike Helton confirmed on Friday a rules change that will prevent drivers from competing for a championship in more than one of the three national touring series. Helton also addressed the sanctioning body's possibility of revising the current points system.
NASCAR officials met with the press for a "competition update" on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Sprint Cup Series teams are in the midst of a three-day test session at the newly-paved DIS.
Helton pointed out that Sprint Cup drivers will be allowed to compete in Nationwide and/or Camping World Truck Series races, but Cup regulars will be prohibited from contending for a championship in either one of those series.
The new rule will allow a full-time driver in either Nationwide or Camping World Truck to win a championship in his respective series.
"The most important element was for NASCAR to maintain its open policy for anybody who wants to compete and has the credentials to compete can compete in any series that they want to compete in," Helton said. "We don't restrict a Cup driver from participating in another form of racing, including other forms of NASCAR racing.
"The desire was to protect that. But at the same time, there's also a desire for the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series to have a more specific identity of its own and not be confused with the Cup Series or vice versa."
Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Paul Menard ran a full schedule in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series during the 2010 season. Keselowski won last year's Nationwide title by 445 points over Edwards. A Cup regular has won a title in NASCAR's second-tier series each year since 2005.
Helton pointed out that NASCAR is continuing to meet with drivers and team owners on the idea of a simpler points system for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
Several reports earlier this week indicated that NASCAR was tooling around with a 43-to-1 points structure. Forty three points would be awarded for the race winner, and then a one-point drop for each finishing from there. The last-place finisher in a full 43-car field for a Sprint Cup and Nationwide race would receive only one point. Thirty-six drivers make up a full field for a truck event.
Under the current system, 185 points are awarded to the race winner in each of the three series. Five bonus points are given to each driver who leads at least one lap in the event, and an additional five points are credited to the driver who leads the most laps. Fifteen points separate the first-place driver from second, while five points come between each finishing position from second to sixth. The separation for each position from sixth to 11th is four points, and positions 11-43 are three points.
NASCAR has used various point systems since its inception in 1949. The sport adopted its current structure in 1975, but several tweaks to the system, including a format for the Sprint Cup Series championship, have been made since 2004.
"The goal for some time has been to create a points system that is easy to understand, easy to explain, easy to be talked about, but also be credible at the end of the season," Helton said.
Helton noted that NASCAR currently is reviewing several models for a system that would put more emphasis on winning races. NASCAR also is exploring a new points format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
"The main goal is to get one that's just easier to understand and simpler, but you have to do that with credibility around the championship," he said. "We're getting a lot of great input from the drivers about the tweaks that would go along with something like that, so it's actually been fun to work on."
NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer Brian France is expected to make an announcement about the new points system during the annual NASCAR media tour next week in Charlotte.