Paying Points For Daytona Qualifying Races Is Nothing New

If you let time go on long enough, things tend to repeat themselves. We see this in movies, music, and of course NASCAR. While NASCAR is not trading in the 1.5-mile paved tracks for .5-mile dirt tracks, it is going into the past by awarding points for this year’s Daytona qualifying races.

The Can-Am Duels, which are set to be run Thursday night February 23rd, will award points to the top-10 finishing drivers in each of the two races. While on the outside it appears NASCAR is taking handing out points to an Oprah level (“and you get a point, and you get a point, and you…”), part of me wants to think they’re harkening back to the past.

Anything to help me sleep better at night, I guess, as the past seems to be something long forgotten by the brain trusts down in Daytona. But there has been steady movement to embracing the past, such as the throwback idea for Darlington and even better moving Darlington’s 500 mile race back to Labor Day weekend.

From the first Daytona 500 in 1959 until 1971 the two qualifying races were actually full points paying events. The notable exceptions to this was in 1959, only one race was run, and in 1968 rain cancelled both races. What might be surprising to most fans was not only did that make the Daytona 500 not the first race, but with other races, Daytona usually fell around the sixth race of the year.

All stats, including victories, all count towards driver’s career stats. Interestingly enough, the second place starting driver got credit for a pole even though on paper they were not the quickest car. It was an interesting twist to get drivers to take the races seriously, rather than riding around protecting their car for the big race later in weekend.

For this year’s Daytona 500 there are only 42 entries, making these races pretty pointless when you consider 40 will make the field. Honestly, they should just make one race when the open cars and have them race, but a seven car race won’t be that entertaining to most now a days.

Hopefully with the allure of points to be had towards the championship, we’ll see drivers go all out once again and not just ride to protect their cars for Sunday’s race.