In 2020, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship will include a number of new elements. Competitors may earn a place in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s version of the playoffs, by either of two ways.
As in past years, the top 10 drivers in each NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series category at the end of the NHRA U.S. Nationals will earn positions in the Countdown to the Championship. Additionally, drivers in the series who meet a minimum set of requirements will now also earn places in the playoffs.
In NHRA’s two “Nitro” classes (Top Fuel and Funny Car), drivers who compete at all 18 events in the regular season as well as a minimum of two qualifying sessions per event will take part in the playoffs. In Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, drivers who compete at all 13 or 11 events, respectively, in the regular season and run at least two qualifying sessions at each event will get to compete for the championship in five events over the course of the Countdown to the Championship.
Those who secure positions in the Countdown to the Championship will have their NHRA Mello Yello points adjusted at the conclusion of the NHRA U.S. Nationals. In the Nitro categories, first and second place will be separated by 20 points, while each following position will be separated by a 10 points. In Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, first and second place will be separated by 20 points and second through fifth place will be separated by 10 points; all positions after this will be separated by five points.
Accumulation of points will remain unchanged, with points-and-a-half rewarded at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. The top 10 drivers at the conclusion of the Countdown to the Championship will gain recognition at NHRA’s annual awards banquet.
NHRA officials made this change in hopes of both better rewarding driver endurance and encouraging participation in regular season events.