What's behind NASCAR's 'more compelling' changes

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    What's behind NASCAR's 'more compelling' changes

    What's behind NASCAR's 'more compelling' changes

    Monday, 23 January 2017
    Kelly Crandall / Images by LAT

    Major change has come to NASCAR in what officials say was a response to the calls for more compelling racing.
    NASCAR revealed the new format Monday night in Charlotte, which will be implemented in all three national series. Among the immediate change is the elimination of the caution clock in the Camping World Truck Series, while the "Chase" term has also been eliminated. It is now simply the playoffs.
    "I have the easiest job of the day, and that is to communicate a couple things," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. "One is what our fans have been asking us to do, and what our team owners, our drivers, our track operators and all of our stakeholders have asked us to, which is make the racing even more compelling on an hour-by-hour basis week in and week out."

    The format calls for races to be broken into three stages.
    The top-10 finishers in the first two stages will be awarded championship points on a 10-1 scale. The winners of the first two stages receiving one point toward the playoff. The overall race winner will receive five points towards the playoffs.

    Pit stops will still matter and remain an important part of the race. At the end of each stage, teams can elect to stay out or pit, with the lineup off pit road being determined by a team's pit stop.

    There is also a playoff bonus structure for the driver who ends the regular season with the point lead by rewarding him or her with 15 playoff points. The top-10 drivers in points leading into the playoffs will also receive playoff points. Second place will receive 10 points; third place will receive eight points, fourth place will earn seven points, and so forth.

    All playoff points will be added to a driver's total when the points are reset following the cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway. Gone are the bonus points for leading a lap as well as leading the most laps. Those points have been added into the overall point system.
    Overtime is still in play and can be used at the end of the race.

    "There are no off weeks," Denny Hamlin said of the format. "Every single race matters. Not only that but every lap of every race matters. From (a driver's) standpoint, you always felt a little bit relaxed once you got a race win and you would sometimes maybe go in test mode or something.
    "Now with each accomplishment that you have during each race, whether you're collecting points for the overall regular season or you're trying to collect points through a stage win or a race win, each accomplishment gives your road to Homestead a little bit easier. Gives you a little bit of a cushion there to be able to get through the playoffs and get to Homestead, and that's what it's all about for us – making it to Homestead and trying to race for a championship. And I think this format does it for us."

    Winning will remain as important as ever when it comes to making the playoffs. The playoffs are also remaining the same with 16 drivers making the championship "tournament," wins going toward eligibility, as well as the same number of rounds and driver eliminations. The championship will also be determined at Homestead-Miami Speedway the same way it has been the last few seasons among four drivers.

    What will be different is that points earned will be carried through the playoffs until the end of the third round (the Round of .

    "What you do in those first 26 races really matters," said NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O'Donnell (pictured below at the announcement, Getty Images for NASCAR). "Not only to get into the playoffs but to continue to move on in each round."
    Championship points following the first two stages will be awarding in descending order. The stage winner will receive 10 points; second place will receive nine points, and so forth. The race winner following the final stage will now receive 40 points; second place will receive 35 points, third place will receive 34 points, and so forth.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski concurred with Hamlin that the format now makes every lap of a race worth watching. In essence, the riding around during the middle of each race in hopes of making it to the end should now be a thing of the past.

    "I think of more chances to win, more chances to perform, and more spotlight," says Keselowski. "I look at races, the plate tracks, especially at Talladega, you might see cars that have lagged back in the past, 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 part of that."
    Last edited by senor honda; 01-23-2017 at 08:21 PM.
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