Title 'playoffs' considered

NASCAR is considering a radical overhaul of its current points scoring system that would create a ten-race 'playoff' for the championship between the top ten drivers in the standings

Title 'playoffs' considered

The sanctioning body has been evaluating changes to its current points system, which rewards consistency, after Matt Kenseth dominated this year's title race despite winning just one race.

Under the new system, points would be scored as normal for the first 26 races of the season. However, with ten events to go, the top ten in points would be locked in, with their scores reset. These ten drivers would then compete for the championship over the final ten races.

"The goal is to cast a bigger spotlight on the drivers in the championship hunt, specifically in the top ten," said NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo. "This plan would let them battle it out and give us the drama of a playoff stretch like other sports."

Virtually all US sports feature post-season playoffs, which ensure the championship isn't decided until the end of the season, and help maintain interest among viewers.

Zizzo insisted that the changes didn't reflect badly on Kenseth's title. He said: "These proposed changes in no way are meant to diminish what Matt accomplished this season. He was a model of consistency."

However, had the playoff system been applied this year, Kenseth would have finished just seventh in the championship based on his form over the last ten races. He would have had a 418-point lead erased when the scores were reset with ten races to go. Jimmie Johnson, second in this year's points standings, would have won the title, ahead of Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman.

A final decision is likely to be made in mid-January. The 2004 NASCAR season begins with the Daytona 500 in February.

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