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NASCAR keeping 10-race shootout format for 2005



Published: Tue, January 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



New scoring system was implemented last year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- NASCAR's points system will remain unchanged from last year, when the debut of a 10-race shootout format resulted in the closest championship finish in series history.

"We feel like we have a pretty good system and we're set for '05," NASCAR chairman Brian France said Monday. "We did look hard at making any potential adjustments."

In 2004, France began his first year as head of NASCAR by overhauling the decades-old points system and creating a playoff structure for 10 drivers in the final 10 events of the Nextel Cup season.

Five drivers went into the November season finale with a chance to win the title. When the race ended at Homestead-Miami Speedway, only eight points separated champion Kurt Busch from runner-up Jimmie Johnson.

Lots of contenders

That, France said, was proof that the system worked. The only time NASCAR had more drivers in contention was 1992, when six raced in the finale with a shot to win the title. Alan Kulwicki beat Bill Elliott by 10 points.

"You know, 2004 is undoubtedly going to go down as either the greatest season we've ever had, or one of the greatest seasons we've ever had," France said.

Again, the first 26 of the season's 36 races will be used to determine the participants for the 10-race championship finale. The top 10 in the standings following the race at Richmond in September -- plus any driver within 400 points of first place -- will have their points totals reset for the final 10 events.

"We will go through another cycle in 2005 and take a look at it, but on balance we're happy with where we are," France said.

In resisting the urge to tinker with the system, NASCAR will begin the season without any major changes for the first time in four years.

NASCAR went into 2002 with an emphasis on safety following the death a year earlier of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. Realignment, and moving races out of the South and into larger markets, was the theme in 2003.

Last season, there were a slew of changes, from France beginning his reign to a new series sponsor in Nextel as well as the revamped points system.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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