Stock Car Racing NASCAR tweaks race formats, points for 2017
NASCAR tweaks race formats, points for 2017
Monday, 23 January 2017
Image by LAT
NASCAR, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, announced today an enhanced competition format that will be implemented in all three of its national series – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Increasing the sense of urgency and emphasizing aggressive racing and strategy, the race format will deliver more dramatic moments over the course of an entire race and season, with playoff point incentives on the line throughout.
(The term "Chase" has now been abandoned in favor of the more traditional sports term "playoffs" for end-of-season championship series.)
The enhanced format consists of the following:
• 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 , 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.
"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."
NASCAR also announced a playoff bonus structure that will see the regular season points leader honored as the regular season champion, earning 15 playoff points that will be added to the driver's playoff reset of 2,000. In addition, the top-10 drivers in points leading into the playoffs will receive playoff points, with second place receiving 10 playoff points, third place will earn 8 points, fourth place will receive 7 points, and so on. All playoff points will carry through to the end of the Round of 8.
"These are enhancements that the NASCAR fan has long sought, and the entire industry has worked hard to develop a better racing format for our fans," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "This format puts a premium on every victory and every in-race position over the course of the season. Each point can eventually result in winning or losing a championship."
CRANDALL: NASCAR's call to action
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Kelly Crandall / Images by LAT
While Monday's announcement of its new race formats seemed very convoluted, there should be optimism for how the changes will play out. The sanctioning body listened to fans, drivers, owners, and others who raised the concern that races did not have constant action and used that input to create what will be known as stage races.
In other words, buckle up because here comes that missing action.
By implementing a three-stage race, NASCAR has ensured fans of a few things. First, is knowing when the caution is coming, as there will be a designated lap the stage ends. What this does is effectively eliminate the much-despised debris caution, and rids the Camping World Truck Series of the caution clock. Something this writer was against from the beginning, as it seemed unnatural and disrupted the flow of racing.
However, a stage race gives drivers something to race toward, since finishing in the top 10 in the first two stages awards points. Plus, the winner of stage earns a point toward the playoffs. It means that while winning remains paramount, NASCAR has found the correct balance between winning and making points still matter.
It creates constant action. It makes drivers want to race for position every lap. It gives them, as Brad Keselowski said during the announcement, more chances to win, which is what they live for.
Even better, a stage race will eliminate the mid-race lull of a 500- or 600-mile event. It was not uncommon to see drivers logging laps just waiting until the pay window opens. Breaking the race up means there is no time to waste.
In the bigger picture, a stage race also creates more drama for the playoffs. Under the previous format, a "win and you're in" guarantee could result in drivers and teams more or less taking the rest of the year off. By locking into the playoffs early, drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted his team went on vacation until the post-season started. Others used the summer months to experiment for the championship.
The racing just didn't matter.
Not anymore. Denny Hamlin summed it up best: "There are no off weeks."
With the addition of a playoff bonus structure, the driver who leads the points at the of the regular season will be rewarded with 15 playoff points. Acknowledgment of the work put in during the regular season is a concept many in the NASCAR community have longed called for.
There is also added points for the second-place finisher in points (10), the third-place finisher (eight), fourth place (seven), and on down.
All of this will keep the field competitive. Even after locking into the playoffs, drivers will continue to want to earn points either through a stage win or an overall race win.
Isn't that what everyone has wanted to see? This year, NASCAR has taken a large step in making that happen.
But it doesn't end there. An additional incentive for drivers to perform during the regular season is that it will impact the playoffs. Points earned will be carried with a driver through the first three rounds and, for a driver like Martin Truex Jr. who had a strong regular season and opening round of the playoffs last year, those points might have helped him advance to Homestead.
Even with all of these changes, there are still other exciting elements of the sport that will remain. Pit stops are still as important as ever, as teams can elect to stay out during stages or take a chance on fresh tires. The elimination playoff format as well as what has become an exciting winner-take-all finale at Homestead also remains intact.
So yes, the rollout of the format was very confusing, but the focus should be less on the outline and more on its intended consequence.
As Keselowski said, "Wait until you see it on the racetrack. If you are watching (the announcement) right now, please trust us. When you see this on the racetrack, this is going to be the best racing you've ever seen."
NASCAR announces race stage lengths
Wednesday, 08 February 2017
Kelly Crandall / Image by LAT
The season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb.26 will kick off the new era in NASCAR of stage races. The 200-lap event will be run in three stages, as will all NASCAR national series events this year.
The format will see drivers who finish in the top 10 in the first two stages receiving additional points toward their race totals. Drivers who win a stage will be rewarded with one playoff point. The driver who wins the race will be rewarded with five playoff points.
The stage breakdown for the Daytona 500 is 60-60-80. The first and second stages for the Daytona 500 will consist of 60 laps. The final stage to determine the winner of the 59th annual "Great American Race" will be 80 laps.
NASCAR revealed the stage lengths for the Daytona 500 as well as all other races during Speedweeks on Wednesday. For the first time, the two Can-Am Duel races that set the field for the Daytona 500 will now reward points. Both races will be 60 laps in length with the top 10 finishers in each race earning points.
02-08-2017 11:57 PM
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