NASCAR’s New Race Format

NASCAR's New Race Format
CHARLOTTE, NC – JANUARY 23: NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell speaks on stage about competition changes to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte Convention Center on January 23, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In a dramatic turn from the traditional style of racing, for which NASCAR has been famous since its inception in 1948, NASCAR has changed their racing format to attract a new crowd of television viewers.

The new race format is being intended to deliver moments that are more exciting over the entire race. This will cover the season with point incentives that some find confusing, leaving many of the long-time stalwarts of the sport mystified about all the point inclusions aiming toward one champion.

With the three segments, NASCAR will throw a caution flag at a predesigned lap to allow the television networks of FOX and NBC to focus more on the green flag coverage with commercial breaks during these segments, which will include full pit-stop coverage.  After sagging ratings of their sport, NASCAR felt a change needed to be made.

The new system will be in effect for all three NASCAR national series – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Here’s a rundown of how it works:

  • Races will now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage.
  • At the end of the race (third segment), the winner will get 40 points, and then second through 35th will be awarded points on a 35-to-2 scale. Those finishing 36th to 40th will be awarded one point. There will be no bonus points for leading a lap or leading the most laps.
  • 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 their reset total following race No. 26, if that competitor makes the playoffs. Drivers will now carry bonus points – called “playoff points” – throughout the entire playoffs (instead of just the first round) when the points are reset.  Drivers will earn five playoff points for every race win and one playoff point for every segment win.
  • The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points in a declining order of 10-9-8-down to one.
  • 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.

The top-10 drivers in the standings in the regular season also earn additional playoff points on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.  Drivers will continue to accumulate points throughout the playoffs and carry all the points earned during the year into each of the first three-playoff rounds, with the Championship 4 racing straight up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.

  • Qualifying for the playoffs remains the same – the regular-season champion plus 15 drivers based on wins with ties broken by points will get into the playoffs, as long as they are in the top 30 in the standings.
  • The playoffs will remain divided into three three-race rounds, with four drivers eliminated after each round to set up four finalists for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers automatically qualify into the next round with a win in that playoff round, and the remaining spots filled by the point standings. At Homestead, the top-finishing driver among the four finalists at the end of the race wins the title.
  • The race purse will be paid at the final stage.
  • The 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona will be worth points to the top-10 drivers on a 10-to-1 scale (just like a race segment), but the winners do not get bonus points for the playoffs.
  • NASCAR won’t allow teams to replace body panels during a race, and teams will have additional limitations on crash repair that likely will mean most drivers who have to go to the garage won’t return for the remainder of the race.

The Daytona 500 takes the green flag on Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Daytona International Speedway.

About Jay Wells 321 Articles
Jay Wells, 61, is a veteran motorsports public relations and marketing official. He spent 33 years at the track working with NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA, and NHRA series' before retiring in 2009. He began writing for in September of 2013 covering the NHRA and NASCAR circuits with post race coverage along with feature and breaking news stories. Wells resides in Mooresville, North Carolina. Follow Wells on Twitter @ jaywells500.

9 Comments on NASCAR’s New Race Format

  1. What NASCAR needs to do is get back to STOCK CAR racing and dump all of these ridiculous new rules. When will they realize that people are getting tired of seeing over-paid teenagers driving ridiculously expensive purpose-built cars that no one on the middle class can afford? The old saying was: “Race it on Sunday, Sell it on Monday”. Those days have been gone for a long long time.

  2. In a word Nascar SUCKS. I have been watching and going to races since the early 70’s and what they have turned the sport I love is nothing short of disastrous. Nobody can keep up with the rule changes. I don’t know how the teams can. This is STUPID !!!!. Get back to the roots of the sport. I almost wish some one would start another racing organization to compete with them.

  3. What did I just read? I’m not sure! I feel like the NASCAR officials really don’t want me – or anyone else for that matter – to know what’s going on! Am I just supposed to watch the cars go round and round and have somebody tell me who won when the cars stop going round and round? NASCAR can then feed all of the collected data into their super computer and it will then print out the points standings. What ever happened to driving “stock” cars and whoever was ahead at the prescribed number of laps was the winner!!!

  4. I used to be a die hard NASCAR fan, but then I discovered NHRA drag racing. The drag races are so much more fun to go to. Your ticket price allows you access to the pits and you can actually meet the drivers. They’re all so easy to talk to, and seem to recognize the fans are the reason they can do what they do. Plus, there are so many different classes, and even bikes. Every race is exciting. NASCAR is so inaccessible for the average fan and other than the last 10 laps, has become very boring.

  5. Friggin over it with NASCAR…..these points rules is plain and simple ridiculous. It cost way too much to even go to the race now days. If you dont want those of us in the middle class to attend, then you are doing a fine job. It should be the one who gets the checkered is the winner with lap leader pionts added. A purposeful yellow….what….your kidding…right? Its all about the TV network and big money sponsors…they dont give a f**k about the people who support their shit.
    Boring and stupid….

  6. The powers that be at NASCAR are either high on some unreal strong drugs or blithering idiots or most likely BOTH!!!! REAL NASCAR fans hate what the sport has become and newsflash you dumba#$es, THAT IS why your attendance and ratings are in the toilet!!!! You have completely and totally alienated your core supporters and in nothing more than an insatiable GREED has driven you away from those that made you successful to pursue a VERY few more fans that could give a sh*t less about you or your sport and will NEVER bring you the success the original fans brought you!!! Just when you think it couldn’t get any more asinine these morons prove us wrong and change it to something even more out of touch and farther away from the direction they should be going!!! The day you allowed a foreign manufacturer in was the beginning of the end and it should be cars that you can actually go to the dealership and buy and have to run the engines and transmissions they normally come with and then you are allowed to install a roll cage, safety equipment, and replace the glass with a safer composite and that’s it. Engine mods should be limited to open exhaust, a camshaft change, and some head work and that’s it!!! If that makes the American cars have an advantage so be it because the above mentioned foreign manufacturers engines ARE purpose built race engines that NEVER came in the cars they are running them in!!! They need to return to their roots and stop what has become more of an idiotic circus than a racing series!!! Also these punk drivers need to keep their political opinions to themselves, the ONLY reason you have ANY fame IS because of your ability to drive a race car and WE don’t want or need to know your opinions on anything other than RACING!!! NASCAR IS and ALWAYS has been a conservative supported sport that was originally from the Bible Belt and your catering to the liberal left, political correctness and major metro markets IS going to be your ultimate downfall!!!

  7. NASCAR has lost me. I hate the new format. Found watching the Daytona 500 frustrating and left the television for every commercial. Race lasted forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I have been a die hard NASCAR fan for years. I don’t answer the phone or the door when the race is on and all my friends know it. Always record it and watch it live just in case I want to go back and look at something. However, since this new format happened, I have never been so bored in all my life. After only 2 races with this new format I am ready to give the sport up. I never thought I would ever say that! What the h*ll are you thinking NASCAR!!!! I would rather get a root canal then sit through another one of these boring a** races.

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