NASCAR & Auto Racing

Cup drivers decry F1's points proposal

BRISTOL, Tenn. — As Formula One's ruling body debates a new points system, NASCAR's top drivers almost unanimously agree a similar format would not work in their series.

The FIA said this week it would award the championship to the driver with the most race wins instead of highest points. The rule was vehemently opposed by teams and drivers, and the governing body agreed Friday to postpone its implementation until 2010.

NASCAR's system rewards consistency. The 12 drivers with the most points after 26 races are eligible to run for the Sprint Cup title over the final 10 events of the year, and winning does not necessarily crown a champion.

"I think, if you determine your champion just based on wins, you're taking a huge gamble of having the wrong champion," Carl Edwards said.

And that's coming from the guy who would have won the title last year under F1's proposal. Edwards won a series-best nine races but finished second in the final standings to Jimmie Johnson.

"If one guy wins one race and runs 20th in the rest of them, and another guy finishes second in every single race, (the first guy is) not the right guy for a champion," Edwards said.

His competitors agreed, noting that F1 uses a 17-race schedule, and usually only three or four teams are competitive enough to challenge for victories. NASCAR has 36 points races, and almost half of the 43-car field is capable of winning.

"When you look at how our series is, it's a marathon," Jeff Burton said. "The races are marathons. We run some of the longest races in the longest year compared to other forms of motorsports. So that means you need a different type of points system. I believe consistency matters."

Kevin Harvick called the F1 proposal "the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard," because a winner-take-all mentality erases the element of drivers battling back from adversity over the course of a 500-mile race.

"It is all about the guy who can fix his car, and it is about the guy who can come back and make something out of a loose wheel and make up two laps," he said. "If you aren't going to win and you are having a bad day, what are the consequences of just pulling in?"

Harvick wins Nationwide

Kevin Harvick proved just how strong his organization is Saturday by winning the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in his own race car.

Harvick led 44 laps in his Kevin Harvick Inc.-owned Chevrolet, his first victory in a car fielded by the race team he built with his wife.

"It is very emotional, he's tried so hard, so long in his own stuff," Delana Harvick said in Victory Lane. "Today was his day."

Although Harvick has won three times in a KHI-owned Truck — in 2002, '03 and '08 — he'd yet to win a race in the more prestigious Nationwide Series. Tony Stewart won twice for him in that series, and Bobby Labonte once.

Newman impresses boss

Tony Stewart was pleased with teammate Ryan Newman's progress after one practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Then Newman narrowly missed winning the pole, qualifying second in the best showing to date for the Stewart-Haas Racing entry.

"It's nice to see Ryan having a good weekend," Stewart said. "After the first four weeks, that's the one thing I desperately wanted to see happen."

Newman heads into Sunday's race ranked 32nd in the driver standings and in danger of falling below the important top-35 mark. But Stewart said the struggles have not been indicative of the team's performance.

"Everything that they've had has seemed to be bad luck so far," Stewart said.

He added that the team has been buoyed by his strong start to the season — he's sixth in the standings with three top-10 finishes.

"One thing that has been good for them is the fact that we're running good, so they know that they've got the same stuff that we have," Stewart said. "All they need to do is get the monkey off their back, and they can be right there where we are."

Busch ready to 'unwind'

Kurt Busch got more than 10,000 suggestions as to what he should call the unique victory lap he concocted following his win at Atlanta two weeks ago.

The lap driven in reverse elicited 61 suggestions with the word "unwind" in it, so Busch will call his new signature celebratory move the "Unwind Lap."

"Hopefully I will get the chance to tear up reverse gears in cars all over the country this season," Busch said.

Marlin wins legends race

Sterling Marlin won the Saturday Night Special legends race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. Marlin led all 35 laps of the charity race and beat Rusty Wallace and 70-year-old L.D. Ottinger to the finish line. Terry Labonte was fourth and Jimmy Spencer fifth.

Marlin collected $25,000 with the win to donate to charity. He also will race in the Sprint Cup Series event Sunday.