Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New policy doesn't ensure new winners

   So far, NASCAR’s new policy of limiting drivers to earning championship points in one series seems to have several unintended consequences.

   A grand total of zero points were earned by the drivers who won the first five NASCAR races of the season, including the Daytona 500.

   That may be a statistical oddity, but there also seems to be a growing uproar over how ESPN covers the emerging championship battle in the Nationwide Series, which is likely to produce many race winners this season not running for the title.

   Let’s be clear: NASCAR’s new policy ensures there will be a new Nationwide Series champion this season, but nothing it did ever guaranteed anybody new would win the series races so long as those who have been participating in it continued to do so.

   In other words, it’s perfectly possible for the Nationwide champion this year to have won zero races.

   Now, some seem to think ESPN is obligated to produce almost separate coverage of the drivers in each race running for the championship but perhaps not in contention for the win.

   That’s silly.

   Networks sign up to broadcast and cover races – not points standings. This week’s race is in Las Vegas, not this week’s championship battle.

   The last thing I want is for a network to feel compelled to produce and cover “fake drama” totally irrelevant to what is taking place on the track. We already have a Chase in the Sprint Cup Series for that, thank you.

   Fans don't buy tickets to sit in the stands, calculator in hand, to see how the points play out. They watch to see who wins the race.

   The new NASCAR policy may have changed who wins a series title but by no means did it guarantee new race winners or alter the way a race should be covered.

   If that’s what NASCAR wanted, it should have come up with a better plan.