NASCAR announced Monday evening an overhaul to the format of races across all three national touring series and how points are awarded throughout the season. The new format came about through extensive collaboration and input from industry stakeholders, including drivers, teams, tracks and broadcast partners.
Races will now consist of three stages, with each stage having championship implications. The top-10 finishers in the first two stages will be awarded championship points, while the winner of the first two stages will receive one playoff point per stage win. The final stage of the event will award championship points on a traditional basis, with the winner earning a place in the NASCAR playoffs.
Under the new format, playoff points will carry through to the third round of the playoffs. This will reward a team for their performance all season long, with no points being reset as was the case under the old format. The championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway remains a winner-takes-all event between four drivers, with the highest-finishing of those four drivers earning the title.
The length of each segment will vary depending on each racetrack, but the total length of events will not change. The new format will allow for additional winning moments, while also providing broadcast partners and fans in the stands multiple breaks in the action.
The changes have been welcomed by Chairman and CEO Richard Childress, the drivers and crew chiefs, as they look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
“Yesterday afternoon, NASCAR announced several changes to the competition format in its three national series,” said Childress. “I fully support their decision to evolve the racing format. We will approach the revised system as we have before, with the goal of winning races and getting our drivers locked into the playoff. I’m proud of the collaboration between the team owners, our drivers, our race tracks, our broadcast partners and NASCAR to create more exciting moments for our fans. We all want to see our sport succeed and yesterday was a historic step in that direction.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, feels the new format takes the sport back to its roots and will enhance the racing overall.
“I think it’s the best way of creating a short-track racing atmosphere with heat races and a feature, without the risk of guys tearing up race cars and ruining your day,” said Newman. “It provides three specific times during a race in which we can talk about points implications and who is a Chase contender or not.”
Newman also expects the new format will change the way he will approach races from a strategy standpoint.
“When you go to places like Daytona and Talladega you can’t ride around in the back like some guys do,” he said. “At those tracks you will at least have a different ‘go-time’ when you need to get up there in the field and put yourself in position to get additional points that will give yourself a shot at the championship.”
‘A Big Change for the Sport’
“Time will tell if the fans will like it, but it will add a couple of new layers of strategy to each race, as we will be gambling for segment wins,” said Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. “I know that everything NASCAR does they do in the interest of the fan. The ability to carry over bonus points into the playoffs will reward regular season success to a larger extent, which is a positive change.
“We’ll see how it all shakes out, but I know this change has us feeling like this opens up more opportunities for us to show what we got,” he said.
Fellow Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon was on hand Monday evening for NASCAR’s announcement and took part in a NASCAR Facebook Live to discuss the changes and what it means moving forward.
“The greatest part about it are the stages,” said Dillon. “You’re really going to have to be aggressive to get those bonus points. If you get to the (playoffs) and those bonus points carry out, everyone is going to do a lot to win those stages.”