Bruton Smith talks points and Chase

January, 25, 2011

CONCORD, N.C. -- It wouldn't be a NASCAR media tour without a few suggestions or rants from Bruton Smith, and on Tuesday he gave us a couple of good ones to chew on.

When asked what he thinks of the proposed 43-1 points system NASCAR chairman Brian France is expected to announce Wednesday, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. suggested:

• Give the winner 50 percent of the purse, maybe 75 percent, and create a much wider difference between the payout between first and second to make winning more important. Make it more like the All-Star race in which the winner gets $1 million and second place gets around $200,000.

• Maybe the Chase isn't all it's cracked up to be, and in a few years NASCAR likely will go back to deciding the championship based on the season as a whole and not a playoff of 10 races.

In other words, Smith believes there are far bigger concerns than simplifying the points system.

Smith makes valid points. Since the points system under consideration doesn't put a premium on winning, let the payout do that. We see how no-holds-barred crazy the racing gets at the All-Star race when it's first or bust.

Of course, this doesn't take into account teams running for the larger paycheck that comes from winning the championship, which requires consistency, unlike in the All-Star race. But when you know your team might take home twice as much for first over second, that has to be a factor.

Look at last year's Coca-Cola 600 at Smith's Charlotte Motor Speedway. First paid $399,623 and second $299,404. That's about a $100,000 difference. The difference at California Speedway last year was just over $84,000.

"What if there was a $400,000 difference between first and second?" Smith asked as he stood on the backstretch of CMS, where the world's largest television screen will be built by the May races. "Now you know there is going to be a fight to the finish on that.

"All of a sudden that points [system] takes second fiddle to that. That's what I'd like to see. Then I don't have to worry about points."

Smith also appears to be hearing from the same fans who tell me they don't care for the Chase, the ones France implied don't exist while he was promoting change before last year's season finale.

"Maybe this Chase thing is not as important as we thought it was," Smith said. "I think it started off being very important, but I don't think it's as important as we thought it would be. We may be looking around here in another year or two … and we may no longer have the Chase."

I don't necessarily agree. I like the Chase and the drama it created.

"That's just my thinking," Smith said. "I think in one or two more years we'll find out."

But we won't have to wait any longer than next year's media tour to know what Smith is thinking. He always lets us know.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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