NASCAR Announces New Race Format

NASCAR

NASCAR announced changes to the race format and points system for the 2017 season during a press conference Monday evening at the Charlotte Convention Center.

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NASCAR announced enhancements to the race format and points system for the 2017 season during a press conference Monday evening at the Charlotte Convention Center.

After listening to the fans, industry key stakeholders - teams, drivers and tracks - met to help plan out the new format that is intended to help create more compelling racing early in each race and add additional incentives for competitors during the events.

“Simply put, this will make our great racing even better,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “I’m proud of the unprecedented collaboration from our industry stakeholders, each of whom had a common goal – strengthening the sport for our fans. This is an enhancement fully rooted in teamwork, and the result will be an even better product every single week.”

Starting with the season-opening races at Daytona International Speedway, each race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series - will be divided into three stages with no changes to the advertised distance. Each of the first two stages (approximately 25-30 percent of the race distance) will end at the designated lap count regardless of race flag conditions. The four drivers racing for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in each respective series will not score stage points.

Once stage 1 or 2 ends, which will use an alternate checkered flag, the race will go into caution to allow for a commercial break. Pit road will also be closed at least five laps prior to the stage coming to a completion. For each stage, the top 10 drivers will receive championship points (10 for the winner, 9 for second place, etc.). The winner will also receive one-point for seedings for the playoffs. The driver who takes the checkered flag in the final stage will be the race winner and will also get five points for the playoffs and will receive a total of 40 championship points for the win. Second-place will receive 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on. The green-white checkered rule still applies to the final stage.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski were the drivers that participated in the press conference.

"I think the stages, and I think more chances to win, more chances to perform and more spotlights, so I look at races as soon as the plate tracks, especially Talladega, and you might have seen cars that have lagged back in the past," Keselowski said. "You're not going to do that anymore. The single-file, high-line ride out, those days are gone, and I think that's great. We're going to go out there and we're going to race to a new level that we haven't seen before, and I'm really pumped about being a part of that in the future of this sport.

"To me, you look at NASCAR and you look at the way our races were formatted back in the 40s and 50s, it was formatted around endurance, long races, trying to make sure you were there until the end, but today's technology, the teams are just so smart, and if we created motorsports from scratch today, this is exactly how we would have done it, so it's is something I'm very proud of."

The stage points structure will officially start in the Can-Am Duel at Daytona with each race being treated as a stage. However, no bonus points will be issued for playoff seedings and each race winner will not earn a playoff berth.  

“Today’s announcement will take NASCAR competition to new levels beginning with Speedweeks,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “Race fans will see more can’t-miss moments on the track as every lap of every race is going to impact championships for all three national series. The enhanced format also heightens the importance of the Can-Am Duel At Daytona as the 150-mile qualifying races will now determine both starting positions for ‘The Great American Race’ but also award points that will impact the championship. Today’s news is the product of the industry working together as well as listening to the fans.”

One topic that has been brought up numerous times in the past is awarding the points leader at the conclusion of the regular season. This year that will come to fruition as the driver highest in points following race 26 at Richmond International Raceway will get a 15-point seeding bonus to the 2,000-point base reset. The top-10 drivers in regular-season points also will receive playoff points with second place earning 10 points, third place getting eight points, fourth place obtaining seven points, and so on. All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs (Round of 8).

"I love the fact that the bonus points or the playoff points will carry through the playoffs all the way to the last round," Earnhardt Jr. said. " So everything you do throughout the season is really going to help you throughout the playoffs.  That's a great change."

If weather becomes a factor in the race, the completion of Stage 2 is the marker for it to become official if the race is called.

"Let's take Pocono for this year - so if we got to the conclusion of Stage 2, that would be our rain halfway point where we declare it a full race," said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "If it rained at the conclusion of Stage 2, we would pay out Stage 2 points and then also award all of the race points.  If we started the final stage, wherever rain came, then we would pay out the points based on that."

This season, lap leader points will no longer be issued and race wins will have a greater weight than bonus points for playoff seeding.

The caution clock will be eliminated from the Truck Series.

The Chase, which was the name for the NASCAR post-season in previous seasons will now be simply be known as the playoffs.

"I think that for all the folks that have been asking us to get rid of the Chase for years, this is a great day for them," Earnhardt Jr. said.

Format Recap:
 
•  Races will now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage.
•  The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points.
•  The winner of the first two stages of each race will receive one playoff point, and the race winner will receive five playoff points. Each playoff point will be added to his or her reset total following race No. 26, if that competitor makes the playoffs.
•  All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs (Round of 8), with the Championship 4 racing straight-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.
•  Championship points following the first two stages will be awarded on a descending scale, with the stage winner receiving 10 points, second receiving 9 points, and so on.
•  The race winner following the final stage will now receive 40 points, second-place will receive 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on. 

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