WALTZ: What’s The Point In Points?

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HARRISBURG, N.C.
Buy a gallon of milk, scan a little plastic card and you’ll earn them. Enter an online code from the packaging of your favorite soft drink and you’ll add to your total. Pay for your gas with a credit card and you’ll probably earn them.

And that’s all before lunch.

The days of pasting S&H Green Stamps into books are long gone. Today, Americans are addicted to points and our quest to accumulate them has become part of everyday life.

So it’s no wonder that the focus of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has shifted from winning races to scoring points.

There is so much emphasis on getting into The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that winning has become an afterthought. We have world-class drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Greg Biffle points racing. Did anyone ever see Dale Earnhardt points race? How about David Pearson?

Prior to the recent Michigan race, Biffle told a television audience his goal for the day was a top-10 finish, maybe a top five. Somebody should have reached in and slapped him. The goal is to win and too many “racers” in NASCAR’s premier series have lost sight of that fact.

But it’s not that the drivers have lost their desire, it’s that NASCAR has created an environment in which winning is no longer the most important part of the show.

Here’s how we’d correct the situation:
Eliminate points completely. There would still be a champion, but the title would go to the driver who wins the most races. The champion would still receive the NASCAR Sprint Cup Trophy, handcrafted from sterling silver by Tiffany craftsmen, but instead of a check for millions of dollars, give him a book of coupons for the Sizzler.

Take all the point-fund money and post-season awards and put them into the race purses. This year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is expected to collect more than $7 million in post-season money and that alone could add nearly $200,000 to the first-place prize for each of the 36 races.

The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race gets a lot of attention because the winner banks $1 million and Matt Kenseth collected $1.5 million for winning this year’s Daytona 500. But marquee races like the Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 and even the Bristol night race should also pay a minimum of $1 million to win.

Fans don’t buy tickets and travel great distances to watch guys race for points. They want to see drivers race for the win and if all 43 drivers are chasing the same goal, the overall show will be improved.

NASCAR is the one who has shifted the focus from winning races to chasing points and NASCAR can shift it back. But it won’t do it unless the fans demand it and now is a good time for the fans to speak up because NASCAR is listening.

Racing Around
• A tip of the hat to fellow NSSN columnist Donny Schatz on his fourth-straight Knoxville Nationals victory, but it’s a shame this great race now includes a scheduled stop for fuel.

Schatz’s victory in the STP/Mario Andretti-tribute car made us realize Knoxville needs to borrow a page from Daytona Int’l Speedway. Just like the winning car at the Daytona 500 is wheeled from victory lane to the Daytona Experience, each year the car that wins the Knoxville Nationals should go directly to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum where it would be displayed for one year.

• Forget the lawsuits, representatives of the “Jerry Springer Show” need to schedule an episode featuring Jeremy Mayfield and his stepmom. Let them fight it out on national TV. It’s hard to believe Mayfield was once associated with a class organization like Penske Racing.