Why not recognize a NASCAR Sprint Cup regular-season champ?
With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “regular season” wrapped up with the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Sept. 11 and the start of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup “postseason” set to get underway Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., a subject that comes up around this time every year is back on my mind — the lack of a regular-season champion.
Under the Chase system, points are reset to start the Chase, often resulting in a loss, of sorts, for the driver atop the points standings at the conclusion of the regular season. Shouldn’t there be some kind of recognition or honor for being the top driver in the series after the 26-race regular season? I think so.
I’m not advocating the idea of a first-round bye-type of bonus that I’ve heard thrown out there quite a bit. I’m also not saying that it’s a bad idea, either. It’s just not the idea I have.
What I’m thinking about is a points bonus. How about counting being the regular-season champion similar to the way race wins are counted when it comes to resetting the points for the Chase. For example, Kevin Harvick is starting the Chase with 2006 points as a winner of two regular-season races. He was the points leader before the reset, so how about starting off Harvick with 2009 points?
Sure, Harvick doesn’t have the most regular-season wins this year. That honor goes to Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch with four wins apiece. Meanwhile, Harvick is in a five-way tie for fourth. A three-point bonus for being the regular-season champion would move Harvick into a tie with Denny Hamlin for third. It’s not a big change, but at this point in the season, every little bit helps, doesn’t it?
Harvick put together regular-season stats that not only include two race wins but also 12 top-fives and a series-leading 21 top-10s in 26 races. That type of consistency resulted in a points cushion of 43 points over second-place Keselowski at the end of the season. Shouldn’t that type of performance be rewarded somehow? I think so.
The NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series are embarking on their first chases this year, and I noticed that there was a Chase points bonus available for multiple Dash 4 Cash-race wins in the Xfinity Series. So, why couldn’t something similar be done at the Sprint Cup level, but for the regular-season champion?
Just a thought. Here’s another:
If NASCAR can’t justify offering a bonus to a regular-season champion, how about, at the very least, giving some kind of recognition? A trophy, maybe. And in the record books, how about a notation of a Sprint Cup champion and a regular-season champion? It’s been done in other sports for years, heck, decades. As a fan of SEC college basketball, it’s a system with which I’m very familiar and, at least to my knowledge has always worked there. Each year, there’s an SEC regular-season champion, determined by regular-season conference-game records, and an SEC Tournament champion, with the tournament champion getting the conference’s at-large NCAA Tournament berth. It’s a system that’s always seemed simple enough to me, so it must be pretty simple.