Just before the start of the 2011 racing season, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced a dramatic change to the points system for the sanctioning body's three national series.
The shift signified a move toward a simplified scoring format that was easier for competitors, teams and fans to understand. It also meant a break from a system that had determined series champions since 1975.
The current system awards 43 points for a race victory, with three bonus points for winning and one bonus point for leading a lap. If a driver also leads the most laps (a one-point bonus) on the way toward a race win, he or she is awarded the maximum total of 48 points.
After the race winner, each racer is scored with a one-point drop from the winner's base 43 points -- meaning second place is given 42 points, third place receives 41, and so forth until the 43rd and final finisher receives just one point. Each driver in the race is awarded one bonus point for leading a lap and one bonus point for leading the most laps.
The system is currently used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Tony Stewart (pictured) was the first to earn a Sprint Cup Series title under the new format. One year after its introduction, NASCAR implemented the simplified points format for its regional touring series.
During stock-car racing's earliest years, NASCAR points were awarded using a scale that weighed prize money into finishing position. The format changed frequently, and the necessary multiplication and resulting fractions created a convoluted method of calculating season-long standings.
In the months before the 1975 season, NASCAR's founding family contacted longtime racing publicist and statistician Bob Latford to concoct a new system for awarding points. Originally drawn up on cocktail napkins at the Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach, Florida, according to NASCAR lore, the Latford system rewarded consistency and made each race worth the same amount of points.
The format gave NASCAR a simpler way to determine season-long standings without the higher math. With the 2011 change, it became even easier for competitors, teams and fans to know where every driver stands at any given point in a race.