In an industry-wide effort to enhance the on-track excitement and quality of racing, NASCAR is set to implement a wide rash of changes before this season gets underway. On Monday night in Charlotte, the motorsports entity made a huge announcement regarding how the races in each of it’s top-3 series will be run in 2017 and possibly beyond.
Beginning with the season-opening Camping World Truck Series, XFINITY Series, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, each and every points-paying event will be broken up into segments.
The segmented events will feature three “stages”, in which the caution flag will come out for about ten minutes. The 1st and 2nd stages will make 50 percent of the event combined, with the final stage being 50 percent by itself. Every team member and fan will know prior to the start of the race which laps the cautions will come out on. The top-10 at the end of the first two stages will be awarded regular season bonus points on a 10-to-1 basis, 1st placing earning ten and 10th place earning one. The leader at the final stage, the end of the race, will be awarded 40 regular season points, five more than 2nd place will receive. That 2nd place finisher will earn 35 points, 3rd place 34 points and so-on. The 36th-40th place finishers will all be awarded one point. The regular season points a driver has earned throughout the entire event will be added up after the finish.
“You are going to see better racing on the racetrack, and that’s all that matters,” said Denny Hamlin during the press conference Monday night.
Each of the stages will also include playoff bonus points. The winner of segments one and two will receive one point each, and the winner of the final stage will receive five points, which will be used in the final 10-race playoffs. All bonus points carry throughout the playoffs up until the Round of 8.
Here are some side points:
- In the event of rain, races from here on out will not be declared official unless the first two stages have been completed.
- The first two stages of a race can end under caution.
- The Daytona 500 qualifying races will award regular season points to the top-10 finishers.
- The length of the stages at each race should be determined by the end of the month.
- If a driver wins all three stages, he/she will leave that event with 60 regular season points and 7 playoff points.
“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.”
A key positive which may be overlooked with these changes is that TV viewers at home will miss less green-flag action this season. With the segments, TV networks will now have the chance to push out more commercials during the breaks, meaning viewers will miss as little of the action as possible. Also in between the stages, the winning driver and crew chief will be interviewed by the TV networks.
This concept may be hard for some to grasp at the start, but the entire NASCAR industry believes that overtime these changes will lead to a growth in excitement and popularity, and an overall increase in exciting racing moments.