NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Is It Time to Eliminate Playoff Points After a Certain Round?

The 2019 playoffs have given us some awesome racing, but at the same time, we have seen some drivers who were strong during the regular season have a small decline in performance throughout the last eight races. Two of these drivers are Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Both carried an enormous amount of playoff points into the postseason and so far, it is propelling them toward a Championship 4 berth at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a chance at the championship.

Is it time for NASCAR to stop letting playoff points carry over after a certain round? Should they be eliminated after the Round of 12? Round of 8? Or should everything stay the same?

Next weekend’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be the final time the track hosts the NASCAR’s national season finales. The track has put on some excellent racing over the years, especially since the repave in 2003, and it has hosted some of the most exciting finales we have seen in the sport. However, next season, the track will host its races in the beginning part of the season in March.

Should the track have lost a playoff date altogether? Does it deserve a playoff race or is the new date a perfect time of year for the facility to host a race? Will it be this way forever?

Q: Is it time for playoff points to reset to zero after a certain round? Has it been too easy for some drivers to make it through due to playoff points? Darren R., Syracuse, NY

A: This has been something I have thought about a lot, especially this season. There are several drivers who have not had stellar playoff runs at all, but they have advanced through the rounds because of the playoff points they have accumulated throughout the season.

Take Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, for example. Busch has obviously not had a great playoff run at all, with no wins and only a handful of top-five runs. We’re certainly used to seeing more out of the No. 18 driver.

Logano has also not had the best eight races so far either. He has only one top-five finish thus far in the playoffs, and that came this past weekend at Texas.

The point I am making with those statistics is that both drivers are well inside the top four in points heading into ISM Raceway this weekend, while not even scoring the best results. Is this an issue? Somewhat.

Martin Truex Jr. has had an outstanding playoff run in 2019. He would be well into the top four without his win at Martinsville, but he has had results to back it up.

Now we’ll look at the downside.

Denny Hamlin has had a consistent, yet rough few races in the playoffs. This past weekend hurt his chances of making it to Homestead, but it is not completely over. He has scored a win, and has been very solid throughout the last eight races. Even though he did have playoff points going into the playoffs, he has gained more the last few weeks.

The problem I have with the system is how the playoff points allow a driver to be borderline mediocre for a long time and they could have an easy road to Homestead. If you really want to shake it up, take away playoff points going into the Round of 12. Playoff points should secure you for the first round (Round of 16), but that’s it. This should prevent teams from cruising into the season finale on nothing but mid-season mulligans.

This would force championship favorites to maintain their strength during the postseason or be forced out of the way by late chargers. But you will have those who argue this is too much like the old system where the regular season didn’t really matter.

Personally, I’m up for whatever. Either way, Homestead always brings out the best of the best, and this year will be no different.

Q: With next week being the final playoff race at Homestead for the immediate future, would you have kept the track at least in the playoffs? Do you like where they put it on the schedule for next season? Carl S., Independence, MO

A: Homestead should not have lost their right to a playoff race. Maybe it was time to shake up the season finale, but they should still maintain some importance on the schedule.

Homestead has arguably been the best intermediate track in NASCAR throughout the last several years, with drivers having the ability to run multiple grooves. With drivers like Tyler Reddick and Kyle Larson running the extreme high lane, fans are treated to a show by more than just the Championship 4.

Now, with the schedule changes for 2020. is it in the right spot on next season’s schedule?

I do not think so.

Homestead has been the season finale for almost 20 years now, and with it being moved to the beginning of the season in 2020, it loses its luster. The vibe up to this point has always been chaotic and intense, given that a 10-month long season all comes down to this one race.

Next season, you will still see some great racing but the raw excitement will be gone. Homestead has gone from the finale to just another regular season event. But, hey, maybe at least the weather will be better?

ISM Raceway will likely still put on an exciting race for the finale next season, but I can’t help but feel somewhat sad to see Homestead lose its coveted spot on the schedule.

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

15 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joe

This may be slightly off of the main topic of the article. However, I was wondering if NASCAR would ever try to emulate how the PGA Tour decides the championship at the end of the season. It’s a known fact that the PGA Tour copied NASCARs original chase format. However maybe it’s time NASCAR tries to do something a little different. Have the final 5 races of the season be the playoffs. Make the first four races double points races with the stage points. So potentially a driver can earn 100pts if they sweep a race. There will not be any point resets for the first 4 playoff races. So a driver who had a great season could still obviously clinch their spot in the championship finale. It requires drivers to race every race hard all season to earn as many points as possible. The double points just adds intensity for the drivers to earn their spot in the championship 10. Yes I said 10.

At the end of the fourth race. The top 10 drivers in the points are reset using the current version playoff points that are given out at the end of the regular season.
1st. 3015
2nd. 3010
3rd. 3008
3006
3005
3004
3003
3002
3001
3000

Now in the final race there’s 10 drivers with a chance to win the title, however the top seeds obviously have the bigger advantage since they earned that right for dominance throughout the entire season. Also a benefit is that the stage points have meaning for all drivers in the race. So it technically is a 1 race dash for the title, but the drivers control their destiny by dominating the race.

This is very similar to the current format the PGA Tour just started last season. Instead of having 2 different winners. It ultimately comes down to performance for the entire event. No more gimmicks for half a season or constant point resets and playoff points discussions. It’s comes down to performing strong all year, consistently scoring points in the playoffs to move up in championship seeding. Then an all out dash for the title at the end of the year.

Long post I know. I know everyone is well annoyed with these future point system talks and ideas but I just wanted to see how other people reacted on this site. There’s less trolls here and more people willing to discuss.

Thanks again.

Steve

Or just simplify your idea and go back to the old season long points system and give more points for winning races. There! Simple fix and should have been done about 16 years ago.

By the way, can the media stop with this nonsense that Homestead hosts some of the most exciting races? Take away the excitement of the championship and these races aren’t any different than the boring strung out mile and a half tracks we are accustomed to. But then again watching the non playoff drivers not even race the playoff drivers all day makes me less than interested. Maybe I’m the only one but another reason for me this championship is a complete farce.

DoninAjax

It’s always fun to predict how many laps it will take until the four are running 1-2-3-4 and which driver will be faster and stall out when he gets to them. And which driver brings out the caution at the end for a last lap trophy dash.

Joe

Hahaha I totally agree with you. I’d rather see a full season matter more than anything. I love following WRC, F1, Indycar for one thing. A simple championship system. Every race matters. Every lap counts. I know Indycar has 2 double point races but I can live with that. You still have to perform all season to have a chance.

Bill B

The playoff points might need to be adjusted but they are the only thing that tilts the whole convoluted, ridiculous process to somehow result in a worthy champion most years. There is still a chance for someone who had a lackluster regular season to catch fire and ride that wave to a championship but those who had the best results week after week over 36 weeks are highly favored by this system. I and I am sure many others are tired of beating this dead horse but the real problem is that there shouldn’t be any playoffs to begin with. Now everyone is trying to find better ways to fit that square peg in a round hole. As it stands this year, unless Blaney, Larsen or Elliott wins in Phoenix this weekend, the final four will all be worthy champions that had stellar seasons and isn’t that the whole point.

John

Agree, but how do you transition from Playoffs back? You’ve invested a lot of time changing some fans minds on what makes exciting racing. Not a criticism, just a question.

Bill B

I wouldn’t worry about transitioning. How did they transition to playoffs in the first place? They just announced a change. Why should it be more difficult than that to change it again. They haven’t changed that many fans’ mind on what makes exciting racing if you look at attendance and ratings. Also keep in mind that the chase wasn’t put in place to make “exciting racing” it was put in place to make “exciting championships” (like the superbowl). It hasn’t and there are still more disgruntled ex-fans than actual fans.

wildcatsfan2016

Well said, Bill B.

DoninAjax

Every change has been made because they’re what the fans have told them they want.

John

There appears to be two schools of thought. One that believes in a season championship decided by points accumulated throughout, and another that wants to introduce randomness to give anyone a shot at the championship. I dislike the randomness side of the argument. The best should win. I like the idea of having X number at the end of 26 races being guaranteed a spot in the finals. Perhaps the top 3 with the next 12 getting into the Playoffs for the right to make 3 more spots in the finale. This could serve both functions.

DoninAjax

With all the attempts at tweaking the system, isn’t that a sign to get rid of it? How many changes to the Latford points system? How many changes to the new easier to understand points system?

sb

Easier to understand? really?

DoninAjax

Brian in his infinite wisdom felt the Latford system was too hard for the fans to understand and came up with his new easier to understand points system. Which has been tweaked how many times to make it easier? And he did it because the fans wanted it.

I guess you didn’t get the sarcasm.

Jeremy

If anything (outside of scrapping the playoff system) I would suggest doing away with the “winner take all” final race and allow the final 4 teams to carry every bonus/playoff point they earn throughout the season through the last race. If a driver dominates the year enough that he has enough playoff points to overcome what the winner of Homestead has accumulated including that win, he is still champ due to season long performance/point accumulation.

Otherwise, as mentioned, it’s just a one race crap shoot. Why bother even running the other 35 races? Just pick your final 4 from a random draw (it’s OK, Hendricks drivers can get 3 numbers in the kitty to everyone else’s one, and Chase will get 3 extra above that), and declare one of them champion based on the results of the race that will be run.

Dave in Ohio

I didn’t like the playoff points at first, but here’s the deal. With playoff points it kinda sorta levels out the season where performance throughout the season gets you to a championship like the old days, or at least gets you to the final four to have a shot at it. Without playoff points we are back to Jimmy Johnson and Chad Knaus treating the first 26 races as nothing but 26 test sessions for the last 10 races. Remember how the talk was always how unexpectedly bad the 48 was running, then they were suddenly winning races when the chase rolled around? We want guys to race hard for wins all year. This system does that.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com

Frontstretch