The view from my couch

I Did the Math
by Michael Sylvia, Jr.
February 1, 2004

I did the math, let's hope Brian France did too. If we look at last season as our model, we can figure out how to win the championship under the 2004 Nextel Cup points system, pick and chose our races, and save a lot of money while we are at it.

With any hypothesis, there has to be some given information from which to start. First off, it's a given that we are the points leader. As long as we stay in the top ten in points, we make the "Championship Chase". That is the ultimate goal as that's the whole point for modifying the points system. Second it's important to note each race is worth 180 points to the race winner. That's the most points awarded for each race to the winner. And the guy that drops out of the race first gets a minimum of 34 points. All the driver has to do is qualify, and drop out, (he wouldn't just drop out, I'm sure there would be a mechanical problem [wink, wink], that popped up after the green flag fell), on the first lap. And finally, we are part of a multi-car team.

The first twenty-six races, although they would be nice to win, don't really matter. Those races are just a path to get to the NEXTEL Cup championship and all one has to do is get into the top ten after completing the 26th race on the schedule. Be in the top ten, have your cars and team prepped for the "Chase for the Championship", and the rest is just racing.

Now let's get into the season. After race 16, you have a 504 point lead over 10th place. You are coming up on Daytona where year after year you have managed to endure some pretty heavy repair expenses following "the big one." So, let's qualify for that race and get some "testing" under race conditions as there is a similar track in the final ten races. After enough testing, develop a mechanical problem and park the car, (just one of those mechanical problems). The least amount of points you'll receive is 34 and even if the tenth place driver wins the race you still have a 358 point lead over that 10th place driver. And most importantly, you have a teammate or two to "help" you out [wink, wink] at Talladega.

You'll want to race at Chicago because Kansas is in the final mix and you need the points. New Hampshire is a "must race" as that is in the final ten races. Pocono doesn't matter much but you could use some points so at least make a showing there. Indy doesn't matter much either but it would help with the practice for New Hampshire. Watkins Glen, no point in doing much there, that race isn't in the final ten as there are no road courses. Qualify, and here comes another mysterious mechanical problem on lap 1. Even if the 10th place car wins, you'll only take a 146 point hit if you are the only one that develops "mechanical" trouble on lap 1.

Michigan will give you good practice for Atlanta. Bristol, don't need it, there aren't any short tracks like that one in the final ten races. Seeing as how there are no rules on testing other then keeping under the maximum number of tests, why not just go to Darlington and do a testing session there. Or, run Bristol and skip that trip to California over Labor Day. Think of how you could be supporting the tradition of NASCAR by being at Darlington over Labor Day. I'm sure a few diehard fans will come out and watch. They may even pay you to test there out of protest for losing that Labor Day date. Think of the money that could be saved not having to dash out to the west coast. As a result of gearing down over the last 10 races, you are well rested, have gained significant amounts of test data for the "Championship Chase" and you have saved both the owner and the sponsor enormous amounts of money. You'll have better chances of winning the championship due to your conservative approach over the final ten races of the season. (Don't forget the season is over after Richmond. Now you are in the "Chase for the Championship). The most points you are away from the leader is 45. Don't worry about more than ten drivers in the "Chase for the Championship" as over the last ten years there hasn't been any outside the top ten within 400 points. You have the skills to points race, I mean win, in the remaining races and you have significant advantages over the remaining field. And if worse comes to worse, you always have those teammates to "handle the competition." So get out there, and win one of those NEXTEL Cup Championships.

Is this faulty logic? Perhaps. But it was sure fun beating the system on paper anyway.

You can send Michael email right here.

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