The thing to remember about the lock 8, just like the double file restarts, is that yes sometimes you get screwed, have a bad lap, get stuck starting on the wrong side, etc. But sometimes you would have qualified 9th, someone else has a bad lap and you sneak in, etc, or you start in the fast line in double file. In the long run, it all averages out; you can't concentrate on just one week. So you really have to look at what the advantages to the nightly program are, for each of these items, and decide if it improves the program enough to keep using them, or if it needs changed.
I am also a big fan of passing points for SS/Sports. I don't like using lineup by track points, because while it's nice for regulars, it does deter new drivers from coming to FALS, since they know they'd have to start at the back. We want to continue grow both of these classes. Passing points is a fair method of still using a draw, and giving fast cars a chance to make the feature from the back of the heat.
Starting earlier, early in the season isn't bad, but later in the season just dries the track out that much faster.