Bowyer’s leap to second shows points flaw

Chase Contender Clint Bowyer celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup SYLVANIA 300 Race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire on September 19, 2010 . UPI/Malcolm Hope Photo via Newscom

Clint Bowyer broke a 88 race winless streak. The fact that people keep these stats have often amused me simply because much like golf and unlike ball sports you are competing against more then one competitor.

In doing so Bowyer moved up to second in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup standings “leaping over 10 other drivers by winning a single event.”

Not so fast. First Bowyer was tied with other drivers. It’s not that he was trailing Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, or Jeff Burton it’s that NASCAR and the media decided that there should be some sort of seeding process for the last few cars that hadn’t won a race even though in reality they all had the same amount of points.

Greg Biffle who started 7th in the chase would of had just as big a leap. In fact Biffle would only be 25 points behind Hamlin instead of the 35 that Bowyer currently is.

The simple fact is any of those other drivers would have done the same thing had they won the race. Bowyer entered the event 60 points behind Denny Hamlin, a far cry from the amount he trailed first half leader Kevin Harvick.

In actuality Harvick who would have a 230 point lead over Jeff Gordon had the points not been reset finds himself 45 points out.

Gordon finished the second half in third despite not winning a single event. Gordon ran well and had a slew of runner up finishes in a row. But under this system his great runs were not rewarded, they were actually frowned upon because that type of racing could net a driver a championship without a race win.

The bigger concern is that NASCAR may try to reward race winners even more in the first half. Denny Hamlin leap from a mid pack finish in the first half to a lead when the dust cleared at Richmond. If the number of “bonus” points for winning a race were increased his margin over the competition grows despite the fact he was inconsistent and had problems in a handful of other events.

Harvick’s huge point lead may be bad for ratings but then again NASCAR is already running up against the NFL.

The worst part about everything is that NASCAR has created such a love with this points system that it engulfs anything else on the track. Drivers outside of the top-12 have little reason to be mentioned and while Ryan Newman missed the chase by finishing 13th in the standings he can only go backwards in the standings over the remaining events. No other sport lets the teams who failed to qualify for the post season play in the playoffs. Just NASCAR.

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Clint Bowyer, driver of the  Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew in victory lane after he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2010 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

I can’t even compare this to any other sport because no other sport has such a screwed up post season. Even in the NBA where they let a bunch of bad teams play a few extra games they don’t crown them based on a ten game stretch. NASCAR’s Chase takes up 27.7 percent of it’s total season. In baseball the post season takes up a max of 11.7% of the total number of games played (162 regular season plus full rounds in the DS, CS and WS for a total of 181) In Football its 20% of the season.

Even with the talk of the Chase the majority of NASCAR’s fans are unhappy with the system. A large portion would welcome a return to the old system and few seem excited about giving even more bonus points for a victory whether it’s the first or second half.

For what it’s worth even with last weeks win Bowyer is still facing an uphill battle considering he looked bad in just as many races as he looked good in the first half.