NASCAR recently announced that they would make some changes to how races play out starting in 2017. No longer will we see a race run in a single segment. Sure, we’ve had races interrupted by competition cautions before, but those were few and far between – only when rain washed the track after qualifying or practice. This is different. This is definitely going to have the people who have been whining about NASCAR since the death of Dale Senior and Richard Petty’s retirement whining even more than usual.
All Races Will Be Run in Stages
Every NASCAR race this year, from Daytona to Homestead, will be broken into three stages. The length of each stage is determined by the number of laps for the entire race. For example, the Cup season opener at Daytona will have a “competition caution” at lap 60 and another at lap 120. The XFINITY race at Daytona will be broken at laps 30 and 60. Watkins Glen, a 90 lap race, will have two 20 lap stages, while Homestead’s race will have 80 lap stages.
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, told reporters, “Every track is unique for its characteristics in length, surface, and overall conditions. We worked closely with race teams on expected fuel and tire runs over the entirety of an event when considering stage lengths. And in the end, stage lengths were decided based upon what would provide the best race for fans.”
The Drivers and Crew Chiefs Seem to Love the New Format
Dale Junior was recently quoted saying this new format should be really exciting for fans. This is because the action on pit road is sure to be hot and heavy. Drivers and crew chiefs have a specific time they can look forward to making major adjustments on their cars to make them better. This sounds better than the old “hang on until you crash or we get a caution” approach that we had previously.
One of the problems a number of fans had last year was that some drivers seemed to hang back until the first or second caution, just to get a feel for their cars, and then get needed adjustments. When NASCAR first announced that they were going over to this type of format, some people in NASCAR groups and forums cried that the change was going to cause the whole field to hang back until at least the caution marking the end of the first stage.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth, though. Shortly after coming out with the announcement about the stages, NASCAR competition officials released another announcement that had many drivers and fans really excited: Points will be awarded to the top ten drivers at the end of each stage. This means that drivers will be incentivized to go hard the whole way and fight hard to stay up front, no matter how terribly their cars are handling. The fact that these points will follow drivers throughout the Chase if they qualify for it should make them go even harder. Previously, bonus points awarded during the regular season only helped a driver get into the first round of the Chase. Now they’ll go with the driver until the last race of the third segment of the Chase.
What do you think? Will the new race segments and bonus points rules make for a more exciting season? Let us know what you think in the comments below.