NASCAR restructures manufacturers’ points system

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One day after NASCAR CEO Brian France mentioned the possibility of future changes to the Sprint Cup drivers’ points system, the sanctioning body has announced tweaks to its manufacturers’ points structure effective with this coming season.

“We have always focused on intensifying the natural rivalries between our manufacturers – both on the race track and in the showroom,” NASCAR VP of competition/racing development Robin Pemberton said in a statement.

“We believe aligning the points system with the owner points will create better understanding for the entire industry, and bolster interest and excitement with our fan base, which has shown intense manufacturer loyalty throughout the sport’s history.”

The new system, which will be in use across all three NASCAR national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck), now mirrors the structure seen with the owners’ championship.

In each race, points will be awarded to the single highest finisher from each manufacturer according to the finishing position awarded:

  • Sprint Cup: 43-1, plus bonus points
  • Nationwide: 43-4, plus bonus points
  • Trucks: 43-8, plus bonus points

Three extra bonus points will be awarded to the manufacturer for a race win. The single highest finisher from each manufacturer will receive one extra bonus point for leading a lap, and one extra bonus point for leading the most laps.

The folks at NASCAR were kind enough to leave a Sprint Cup example: Under the new manufacturers’ points system, let’s say Toyota sweeps the top three positions in a race and the winning Toyota leads the most laps in the race.

That means 43 points for finishing first plus five bonus points (three for the win, one for single lap led, one for most laps led), meaning Toyota gets 48 manufacturer points for that race.

Now, let’s add a Chevrolet driver finishing fourth but leading no laps – that means the Bowtie will get the standard 40 points for a fourth-place finish.

Should two of the manufacturers be tied in points at the end of the season, the one with the most victories that season gets the manufacturer’s championship.

If there is a tie in wins, then the tie will be broken by the most second-place finishes, followed by third-place finishes, and so on. And if a tie somehow still remains, the manufacturer with the earliest win of the current season will take the title.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.