I received several comments on the article, "Points or Times: Which Method Should I Use?" in Volume 6, Issue 11 - February 21, 2007.
From Mike Ruhl:
I just read your Feature Article on Points vs. Heat Times, and I'd like to point out something that is probably obvious to you, but wasn't really accounted for in the article itself.
If you had advanced just 7 cars to your finals, instead of 10, then you could have run a perfect round-robin, in which every car runs once in each lane and runs once against every other car (assuming a 4-lane track). Your son's car probably would have finished 3rd in this case, instead of 4th.
This is how we run our Grand Prix. In the interest of time, our qualifying rounds are imperfect round-robins where each car runs once in each lane. We have as many heats as there are cars. We track points, and the top 7 cars advance to the finals, as described above.
If the qualifying round produces more than 7 cars tied for the top 7 places, then we have a run-off from the bottom up to determine the 7 top cars. With anywhere from 40 to 60 cars in the qualifying round, we usually end up with 10-12 cars in the top 7 places. Most often, we'll have one, two, or three cars at the top, with 3 or 4 tied for 3rd, 4th, and (sometimes) 5th place.
Let's say that after our qualifying round we end up with a distinct 1st place car, two cars tied for 2nd, 3 cars tied for 3rd, and 4 cars tied for 4th (actually pretty close to reality most years). That's a total of 10 cars. In order to end up with 7 finalists, we'll take the 7 cars that tied for 3rd and 4th places, and run them in a perfect round-robin to come up with 4 finalists. These 4 will run against the top 3 from the qualifying round in the finals.
The only problem is that some cars end up running more heats than others, but no one has ever complained about it. And some years we've ended up with 8 or 9 tied for 3rd and 4th, 3 or 4 tied for 2nd and 3rd. I keep copies of racing charts for every potential outcome, so we can plug them in as needed. But on average, the scenario described above is what we usually see.
From Stan Pope:
Cory Young and I have often abbreviated the Perfect-N chart variations as PN (Perfect-N), CPN (Complementary Perfect-N), and PPN (Partial Perfect-N).
Your case demonstrates the problem inherent in the selection of finalists. PN and CPN charts are relatively rare; PPN are almost common. PN has both lane equality and opponent equality. PPN by definition narrowly misses full opponent equality.
In selecting finalists, the number of finalists is important so that the more accurate PN or CPN charts can be used. Ten finalists requires either an exorbitant number of rounds or at least a 9-lane track (fit that one in your budget!) to run a PN chart. So, I recommend either a 7-car or a 13-car finals chart since these have PN and CPN solutions on 3 and 4 lane tracks. (A single "bye" in either of these does not affect the results, so those charts are applicable to car counts of 6, 7, 12, or 13.)
The nature of PPN charts limits how accurately PPN can rank the top cars. But PPN is excellent at ranking the N best cars among the highest scoring 2*N places. So, the number of finalists needs to be about twice the number of places that need to be determined.
Points racing has another problem that occurs when the cars are more equal than the lanes. If heat results are "true to form", PN and CPN charts will usually produce ties in the final standings for these cars. Unless you can find two lanes on the track that are more equal than the cars, the tie might have to be left to stand or be broken with a coin toss.
From Ed Phillips:
Your article shows a bias towards "Points" as evidenced by the minimal number of advantages in "Times", and many more "disadvantages". ... I really don't care if someone prefers "Points" over "Times", but I believe this article could unfairly bias someone trying to figure out which is better for their pack. My view (somewhat also stated in the article) is that it really depends on what is important to your pack. Number 1 is fairness, which as you know double elimination is sorely lacking. Number 2, for us at least, is how can you keep everyone interested for the full race, so how long it takes is also important. ...
(Editor's Note: I do prefer "Points", and I guess that did translate into some bias in the article)
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