NASCAR Establishes New Racing Format for All 3 Touring Series; All Races to be Split into Three Segments to Earn Points
No one will ever accuse NASCAR of being old school again based on yesterday’s major announcement that drastically changes the format for all races in the sanctioning body’s three major touring series: the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck circuits.
Starting with this year’s Speed Weeks in Daytona Beach, FL, next month, every race will be broken up into three segments or stages. Prior to the start of races, every driver, crew member, media representative and race fan will be told how many laps will make up the first stage. At the conclusion of the first stage, the top 10 drivers in the running order will be awarded points. 10 for first, nine for second and on down the order to 10th. In addition, the stage winner will earn one point for the Playoffs – the new name for the season-ending competition previously called The Chase.
Race cars or race trucks will remain on the track under yellow flag conditions at the conclusion of the first stage. Pit road will then be opened and pit stops will be covered by TV live. After the cars have cycled through their pit stops, the first stage winner and crew chief will be interviewed, either in the car, over the public address system at the track or TV. Stage 2 will then begin with the cars lined up the way they finished in Stage 1.
Stage 2 and its aftermath will be identical to Stage 1 with points to be awarded the same way – 10 down to 1 for the top 10 finishing cars in the segment and 1 Playoff point for the Stage 2 winner.
The third and final stage will be concluded just like races in the past. Race points and purse are paid out based on this 3rd stage finishing order with the race winner earning 40 points as well as 5 Playoff points with these points to be added to the driver’s reset total after the first Playoff race. All Playoff points carry through to the end of the third round with the four drivers with the highest point total at that time to make it to the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the highest finishing driver in points to be crowned Champion.
The remaining cars in the final race rundown each race will earn 39 points for second place down to 1 for the 40th place finisher. No longer will bonus points be awarded for cars leading a lap or the most laps during a race. Overtime, when races are to be completed, using the green-white-checkered flag format, will remain. Every effort, however, will be made to finish every race under green flag conditions.
It is conceivable that a driver who does not win the race (or final stage) can earn more points than the actual winner. For instance, if a driver wins the first two stages (and earns 20 points) and then finishes second in the final stage for 39 more points for a total of 59, that might be more total points than the race winner should he or she not finished well in the first two stages where only the top ten finishers earn points.
There are thus three ways to earn Playoff points: Stage wins, race wins and regular season Playoff points.
Sixteen drivers will qualify for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs based on point totals over the first 26 races. Twelve drivers will do so in the Xfinity Series, the same number as last year’s Chase program. A driver who wins a race in any of the Playoff races in the Round of 16, 12 and 8 in the Cup Series and in the Round of 12 and Round of 8 in the Xfinity Series automatically advances into the next Round. NASCAR will continue to re-seed drivers after each Playoff round.
NASCAR listened to recommendations and suggestions from its stakeholders (race teams, owners and drivers), the race fans and even the media in developing this drastic change to its racing and it was designed primarily with the race fan in mind. Competition is now expected to be keener in all three touring series because of how points will be awarded, and the old way of featuring long stretches of boring racing over 300 to 500 miles is now history.