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NASCAR Announces Chase for the Sprint Cup Format Change

By admin | January 30, 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2014) – NASCAR announced a new championship format today that will put greater emphasis on winning races all season long, expands the current Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to 16 drivers, and implements a new round-by-round advancement format that ultimately will reward a battle-tested, worthy champion.

 

“We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race – all of which is exactly what fans want,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We have looked at a number of concepts for the last three years through fan research, models and simulations, and also maintained extensive dialogue with our drivers, teams and partners. The new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be thrilling, easy to understand and help drive our sport’s competition to a whole new level.”

 

Changes announced by France to the championship format include:

-       A victory in the first 26 races all but guarantees a berth in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – a change that will put an unprecedented importance on winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race all season long

-       Expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, with those drivers advancing to what now will be known as the NASCAR Chase Grid

-       The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will decrease after every three Chase races, from 16 to start in the Chase Grid; 12 after Chase race No. 3; eight after Chase race No. 6; and four after Chase race No. 9

-       The first three races of the Chase (27-29) will be known as the Challenger Round; races 30-32 will be known as the Contender Round; races 33-35 will be the Eliminator Round and race No. 36 will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship

-       A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Chase race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next Chase round

-       Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the prestigious NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

 

Eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will earn a spot in the NASCAR Chase Grid – provided they have finished in the top 30 in points and attempted to qualify for every race (except in rare instances). The 16th Chase position will go to the points leader after race No. 26, if he/she does not have a victory. In the event that there are 16 or more different winners over 26 races, the only winless driver who can earn a Chase Grid spot would be the points leader after 26 races.

 

If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the first 26 races, the remaining Chase Grid positions will go to those winless drivers highest in points. If there are 16 or more winners in the first 26 races, the ties will first be broken by number of wins, followed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points.

 

As was implemented in 2011, prior to the start of the Chase, all Chase Grid drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races.

 

Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Structure

After the third Chase race, the Chase Grid will be left with 12 drivers. After the sixth Chase race, the field will drop to eight drivers, and following the ninth Chase race, only four drivers will remain in championship contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

 

The first round (races 27-29) will be called the Challenger Round. If a driver in the Chase Grid wins a Challenger Round race, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-12 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 3,000.

 

The second round (races 30-32) will be called the Contender Round. Likewise, if a driver in the top 12 in points wins a race in the Contender Round, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-8 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 4,000.

 

The third round (races 33-35) will be called the Eliminator Round. If a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in the Eliminator Round, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-4 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 5,000.

 

Additionally, drivers who are eliminated in the Contender and Eliminator Rounds will have their points readjusted. Each eliminated driver will return to the Chase-start base of 2,000 (plus any regular season wins bonus points), with their accumulated points starting with race No. 27 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-16th still up for grabs.

 

Four Drivers, First-to-the-Finish Championship Finale

The 36th and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

 

Bonus points for laps led will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.

 

Note: All rules outlined above also apply to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner championship structure.

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8 Responses to “NASCAR Announces Chase for the Sprint Cup Format Change”

  1. GinaV24 Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Oh look, let’s just roll dice and see who wins. So we’ll have a demolition derby out there with multiple teams w/drivers who are already out. Spingate will be nothing compared to the possibilities for cheating at Homestead.

    Just call it the crapshoot for the trophy.

    It makes me glad that I haven’t bothered to renew any tickets for races this year. No reason to waste my money or time on this nonsense.

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    The irony would be if it rains for the final Homestead race.

  3. RacingFan Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    As GinaV24 says, there will be tremendous pressures at Homestead. I wonder if NASCAR can withstand them when focused upon one race.

    While no team will be as foolish as Michael Waltrip’s, would NASCAR really announce the next day that the apparent champion was disqualified by an underweight connecting rod or other minor infractions? I bet not. If the race comes down to a green-white-checker finish, will NASCAR really make a judgement call about someone jumping the start and take away the championship? I doubt it. Will teammates purposely try to slow down a driver from a competing team when it isn’t obvious? Probably. There will be great temptations to fudge the rules and count on NASCAR not being able to take away the championship later because it would be terrible PR.

    What if NASCAR throws one of its phantom cautions and the timing they choose affects the outcome of the race?

    Hopefully, this experiment will fail, and NASCAR will have an excuse to go back to a season championship again. With the new rules, you can be certain that more discussion is going to take place about who performed the best over the whole season,which is what a champion should be.

  4. Russ Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Hmm. Think there could be a possibility of “team orders”?

  5. Ken Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    With Brian France’s “Win, and you are in”, plus, “winner take all”, here is one scenario I would love to see, if for no other reason, just to see France with egg all over his face. What would he do if, after the September Richmond race, he did have 16 drivers who won at least one race. But, Dale Earnhardt Junior finished first in points and Jeff Gordon was second, but neither had a win! It could happen! The first winner was the third place driver, and the winners were spread from third down to twenty-fifth. Given France’s declaration of, “Win, and you are in”, and he had his 16 winners, that would mean that both Junior and Gordon would not be eligible to compete for the Championship under France’s new system. Bet France would leave the country on the first flight he could get on! That is what I would love to see!

  6. Tony Geinzer Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I am happy over rewarding wins, but, I don’t think Playoff Racing has a future. I would find nothing and no nothing amusing with Dover Downs Future being unmasked and that would restart the Chase and then beyond this year, even if we had an SCCA Styled Runoff, we’d need to have to reward the Regular Season Champion with an NHL Styled Presidents Trophy for Public Record and doing a One Day/Night Only National/World Title or NASCAR/Stock Car Title.

  7. kso88 Says:
    January 31st, 2014 at 11:52 am

    smh……haters always gonna hate…….@Ken - Junior would be in the chase in your scenario, reread the rules.

    I can’t wait to see the egg on everyone’s face when, heavens for bid, there is a purely entertaining race at Homestead between 4 drivers who earned their way there.

    Another thought, maybe NASCAR can’t bring in new fans because there are so many “diehards” that just turn out to be jerks.

  8. Ken Says:
    January 31st, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    kso88, if you read what I wrote, I laid out the scenario where NASCAR had 16 winners within the first 26 races. But, when the checkered flag fell at Richmond, Junior was first in points and Gordon was second, but neither had a win. Because there were 16 winners, and Junior and Gordon weren’t in that group, despite being first and second in the points, no win means they would be out. I have never been a fan of either driver, but, would that be fair to them? It wouldn’t. And, in a way, I sincerely hope that scenario plays out. Can you imagine NASCAR’s two “most popular drivers” ending the pre-chase season leading the points, but because they did it and were winless, they would not be allowed to go for the championship, given that NASCAR had 16 race winners, from say third down to say 30th. And what if someone like David Ragan pulled off a win at Talladega in the pre-chase season, finished 30th in the points, made the final 16, but was able to pull off miracles and survive through the three preliminary chase rounds, and finished ahead of the other three finalists in the last race to win the Championship? Would you say David was a legitimate Champion? I’m betting no way!

    Like I said, you didn’t follow my scenario. Junior leading the points after race 26, but without a win, while 16 other drivers did win! The 16 are in, while Junior would be out. The fans would storm Castle NASCAR in Daytona, and Brian France would have a real mess on his hands! Too bad it still wouldn’t smarten him up!