We’ve talked to many drivers and a common thread is some confusion about how the points system for Spec MX-5 Challenge works. While the rules spell this out, they are written as rules which may not be as clearly worded as we might like. Here is a look at the points system with some examples that may help.
First, drivers are competing for points during the regular season in one of four competitions: East Regional, West Regional, National and Invitational. Points are scored in different ways for each to make up for the the different number of races each competition runs. But the points system is designed to keep competition tight through the final race of the Championship weekend.
Basic Regular Season Points Are Only The First Step of Three
So, for example, an East Regional racer can run as many races as he or she wants, but can count only his or her best 5 races. If the driver’s best finishes are 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, the driver would score 10 + 9 + 9 + 8 + 6 = 42 points. In addition, the driver would score 2 bonus points per race run for up to 5 races, so if 6 races yield these 5 best finishes, the driver would additionally score 10 bonus points. The total would then be 52 points (42 raw + 10 bonus).
The West Region is scored separately, but works the same way.
National drivers count their best 7 races and score up to 30 points per race. So, a driver who won 7 National races would have 210 points in the regular season.
Invitational drivers count only two races (they generally only do two races), scoring a maximum of 59 points.
Ranking For Carryover Points Is Crucial
So, how does the Series reconcile different points systems for the different competitions (East, West, National, Invitational)? The reconciliation is done by ranking.
East Regional drivers are ranked at the end of the regular season. The driver with the most points is assigned Rank 1 and gets 60 carryover points to take to the Championship. Rank 2 gets 59 carryover points.
Take a look at the real points as of mid-August. If the season ended at this point (it doesn’t), Tyler Quance would have Rank 1 and carry over 60 points. Grant West would have Rank 2 and carry over 59 points. Joey Atanasio would have Rank 3 and carryover 58 points.
Note that Atanasio only has 2 fewer carryover points although his raw points are 12 behind Quance. Matt Fassnacht would have Rank 4 and carry over 57 points and Charles Mactutus would carry over 56 (and he doesn’t even have 5 races so is likely to actually carryover more with more races to choose from and more bonus points).
National drivers are also ranked and carryover a maximum of 60 points. So, even though Tom Martin has 118 raw points, if he holds on to the lead he will be Rank 1 and get 60 carry over points. Invitational drivers carry over raw points, but since the maximum they can earn is 59 points, they will likely have similar carryover points to the East, West and National drivers.
Championship Points System Should Keep 25 Drivers in the Hunt
Things get interesting at the Championship. The ranked drivers in each competition will have carry over points that differ by 1 point per driver (60, 59, 58 etc). And 3 drivers will come to the Championship with 60 points, 3 or 4 with 59, 3 or 4 with 58 and so on. So, the top 25 drivers at the championship each will likely be bringing 55 carryover points or more.
Why does this matter? Because the points difference between 1st and 2nd in each race at the Championship is 3 points. So, a driver with 55 carryover points will earn 60 points in the Championship if he wins both races. That gives him 115 total points. A driver with 60 carryover points could then at best finish P2 in both races, earning an additional 54 points. The maximum total he could have in this scenario is 114. This illustrates how the lowest ranked driver out of 25 coming in to the Championship could win overall.
Consider another scenario. A driver is ranked 4th in the West Regional. He has 57 carryover points. There are about 10 other drivers with equal or greater carry over points. Then in the Championship he wins one race and finishes 2nd in the second. His total points are then 57 + 30 + 27 = 114. If a driver who was Rank 1 (60 carryover points) finishes 2nd and 4th he has 111. Another rank 1 driver finishes 5th and 1st. He has 60 + 23 + 30 = 113.
The point is that it is possible to enter the championship with the 6th or the 11th or the 15th highest carryover points and still win.