NASCAR announced earlier today that it was changing the way in which it determines the champion in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. After the 26th race of the season, the top 10 in points and any other drivers within 400 points of the lead,...
NASCAR announced earlier today that it was changing the way in which it determines the champion in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. After the 26th race of the season, the top 10 in points and any other drivers within 400 points of the lead, will be eligible to win the championship over the final 10 events.
Defending champion Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus, gave his opinion on the change this afternoon from Las Vegas, where he is making a sponsor appearance.
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS NOW THAT THE NEW SYSTEM HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED? "Honestly, it's worse than I thought because I at least felt if you had a 300-point lead going into the final 10 races that they might knock that down to 100 going in, but five points isn't really that big of a deal, so I'm really not in favor of the change. There was a lot of talk about putting more of an emphasis on winning races, but I don't think this really does that. They didn't do anything to take away consistency. In fact, it's probably more about consistency now because you can just concentrate on having solid finishes and making sure you're in that top 10 for the final 10 races of the year.
"I feel this is entertainment driven and it definitely is nothing like what it was when racing started for most of us. I understand the need to keep people interested and understand there has to be entertainment value, but from my vantage point as a competitor I'm disappointed.
"The ironic thing to me is that I heard they wanted to emphasize winning races, and I feel this takes away from that. I think a lot of the guys will have the feeling of not wanting to make a mistake and just concentrating on getting a good finish to make sure they're in the top 10. I think it takes the emphasis away from winning."
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, was at Daytona International Speedway testing his Busch car today and was part of a Q&A session in the infield media center. Below are Biffle's comments pertaining to the points announcement.
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus
NASCAR ANNOUNCED A NEW POINTS SYSTEM FOR THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON THE NEW SYSTEM? "I like the no comment. It's going to be different, that's about all I can say, it's going to be a lot different. It's going to change our sport tremendously. It's going to change sponsor packages, driver contracts, it's going to impact the sport a lot further. I'm sure they've thought out everything prior to making the decision, but it certainly is going to make an impact."
WILL IT CHANGE THE WAY YOU DRIVE EVERY WEEK? "No, we try to win every week, that's what we do. That's what everybody does, no matter if you're in a tight points race or not, you can't crash out of the race. You're not going to do stupid stuff. You try to use the same mindset every week, and that's get yourself in the top 10, be consistent, stay on the lead lap, get in the top five and you're there for the wins."
THERE WILL ALSO BE A CHANGE IN THE POINT SYSTEM STRUCTURE FOR THE BUSCH SERIES, WHERE THE RACE WINNER WILL RECEIVE AN ADDITIONAL FIVE POINTS. WILL THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE BUSH SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP RACE? "Sure, I think it's going to make an effect in the Busch Series. I don't think it will affect the points in the Cup Series because they're starting over with 10 races to go, so what difference does the five points make? That was my thinking, but maybe it will come down to five points at the end of the 10 races. It will have an impact on the Busch Series because the points carry over till the end of the season, which determines the champion. That's going to make a difference, whoever can win three, four or nine races. I won nine in the truck series and Ryan Newman won a bunch of them. That's going to make a difference if a person can do that now. He can keep those points and try to use them to win a championship versus starting over."
WAS THERE A NEED TO CHANGE THE POINTS SYSTEM? "I think they needed to modify that a little bit. Maybe they did need to put some emphasis on the last 10 races of the season. I like the idea of bonus points for the top-10 guys. Give them one-and-a-half times the points if you're in the top 10 and finish in the top 10. Or maybe give it to the whole group so that it makes a difference and has a bigger impact of where you finish. It's going to work itself out. It's going to be interesting, certainly."
DO YOU THINK IT WILL MAKE PEOPLE JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 DO RISKY THINGS TO TRY TO GET IN THE TOP 10 FOR THE FINAL 10 RACES? "I don't know. That's a tough question. I doubt it. It's the same difference now. And then people thought that if you're not in the top 10 you're going to be more careless, you're not going to care. That's true and not true. I'm out there racing around Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and they're in a tight points race for the championship. I'm conscious of that with 10 races to go whether the points are like they are now or the way they were last year. I had Earnhardt, Jr. behind me and Matt in front of me, and I was like, 'I need to be a little cautious right here because these two guys are running for the championship and one of them is my teammate.' Certainly I don't want to be a factor in deciding that. Nobody wants to be a factor in deciding that, so it could go either way I guess. I'm not going to drive any different. I'm going to do the best I can and try to get in the top 10."