Thursday, February 2, 2012

Top-35 Owners Points Explained, And Why Owner Points Are Important

With the Danica Patrick tizzy regarding the owners points shell game and her getting into the 2012 Daytona 500, fans are once again refocusing some of their attention on the owners points system instigated by NASCAR and how the top-35 in owners points are guaranteed starting spots in the next race, with the exception of the first five races of each year.  I think there will be some credibility lost in the fans' minds with this special deal, but in the end, the bad is usually forgotten by enough people that some business decisions are worth the risk.  (Anyone know/remember what Calvin Ball is?  Remember Calvin and Hobbs... check out rule # 1.2 if you follow the link at the bottom of this piece.)

So what Is This Top-35 In Owner Points?

In NASCAR, there are several tiers of points within the sport.  When you watch a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on TV, there are several things happening behind the scenes that aren't immediately apparent, if you're the casual TV fan.  One of those items is the points structure.

When a car and driver cross the finish line, the driver gets driver points and the car owner also get points.  The most commonly referred to points standings are the driver points.  When a driver wins a race, he gets the coveted 43+bonus points awarded.  The car owner also gets points and for the most part, in the top half of the field, car points and driver points look like they work the same.  But there is a slight difference.

For instance, last year Robby Gordon finished the year 34th in driver points, with 268 points.  But his car owner (In this case, his own car), was 38th in owner points, with 334 points.  See the different in points?

That's because owner's points are distributed to ALL cars who attempt to qualify for a race, and that becomes important to the teams near the top-30 in points.  Here's how it's put by NASCAR:

"The 43 owners who make the race earn points equal to the driver points. Those who do not qualify for the race are awarded points, starting with the fastest car that failed to qualify, down to the slowest car that attempted to qualify. These points establish priority in gaining provisionals for future races."

So what this equates to is that Robby Gordon ran/qualified for 25 of the 36 races in 2011.  He had 268 driver points.  But as an owner, he/his car had 334 points, because he attempted to qualify for 33 races, only making 25 of them.  This rule even makes qualifying attempts valuable to some teams!  Like those who don't make the race, but they can still muster some spare points or so.


As the season progresses, those outside the top-30 suddenly are looking at a premium territory when it comes to owner points, and the structure of owners points being awarded is how some drivers can be automatically qualified to run a race... their cars are in the top-35 of owners points, and hence, will start the next race, no matter how they qualify.  This means that for all intent purposes, there are 8 available spots for teams not guaranteed a starting spot.

The other quirk to this top-35 rule is owner points from the previous season, give the top-35 in points a shoe-in for the first five races of the season.  Race 6 of any given season (as it stands today) is when the new fight for 35th and up begins.


Why Is The Top-35 in Owners Points Important To You?

Barring quirky and mysterious owners points shuffles and what not, this means that the "name" drivers will always be in a race.  To some it may not matter and many fans always seem to say to just let the best qualifiers get in each race.  I don't disagree with you on that premise, but check out this example I though of:

Say you spent the previous year scrimping and saving and you bought tickets to two different races throughout the year.  Let's say your favorite driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr..  Without a doubt, you know he will be at the track both weekends that you've chosen to go to a NASCAR race.  That's because the car he drives in in the top-35 in owners points.

But how would you feel if both times you hit up the track, your favorite driver did not qualify for the race and left the premises after the qualifying session?  Anything could happen at anytime, like a blown tire, engine problems, weeping tracks, etc..

Without a top-35 rule, that would be like buying movie tickets and not knowing who might be in the movie.  It could be Tom Cruise, or it could be Com Truise.

Now maybe reaching all the back to the 35th spot is iffy.  Mayhaps they shoot for the top-30 in owner points.


With That Said, It Is A Done Deal

Manipulating this separate bucket of competition points, the car owner points, is what was manipulated to get Danica Patrick into the Daytona 500.  Sure, in past years NASCAR has seem pretty stern on how teams/owners toss points around, but I guess this year it's different.  (As someone said on Twitter today, in relation to this, "At least let Danica win a race before inducting her into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  LOL...  some folks are getting a bit testy, but who can blame them?)

Of course, this could all backfire.  If Danica Patrick won the Daytona 500, who would get the points?  Tommy Baldwin Racing, I presume... unless of course, there are other rules lying in wait, to be deployed to give Stewart-Haas Racing the win.  We'll see how it goes.

I hope, if you had any curiosities about the Top-35 in Owners Points, this sort of set you straight!

Of course, this may be all for naught...  all the cars are going to overheat with all the new cooling package rules designed to eliminate the tandem drafting scenario!  


The article that inspired this tirade of a thought:  Scene Daily:  Owners Points Swap, Dirty but Necessary Evil;

There's a great article that John put together over on The Daly Planet:  NASCAR Money Ball and Danica Patrick;

And the infamous rules I was referencing... pay close attention to #1.2:  The Rules of Calvin Ball.  I remember watching comic panels when Calvin would call a new rule while the ball was in the air...  just saying!

1 comment:

  1. Bruce.

    Nice new layout!

    Additionally, you did a very good job of explaining the Top 35 point rule!

    PS You just knew that both SHR & were going to do whatever it took to get ol Danica into the Daytona 500!!


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