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NASCAR Unveils Massive Changes To Its Product

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, January 23 2017

Brian France unveiled new racing formats and points procedures on Monday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

NASCAR unveiled a new format for racing in its three top series that offers a radical departure from its past. It’s a format that features three-stage races in all events, a complicated system of awarding points and a revamped system of making the playoffs.

At a press conference held in Charlotte, N.C, that kicked off the annual Media Tour,  NASCAR officials explained the new format. NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said the “enhancements” will “make the racing even more compelling on an hour-by-hour basis, week in and week out.”

The changes were produced by group of “core members” of the industry. Those core members included “stakeholder” drivers, team officials, former drivers, NASCAR officials, television partners and rack officials.

The enhanced format consists of the following:

– Races will now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage.

– The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points.

– 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 his or her reset total following race No. 26, if that competitor makes the playoffs.

– All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs (Round of 8), with the Championship 4 racing straight-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.

– Championship points following the first two stages will be awarded on a descending scale, with the stage winner receiving 10 points, second receiving 9 points, and so on.

– The race winner following the final stage will now receive 40 points, second-place will receive 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on.

“Simply put, this will make our great racing even better,” France said, “I’m proud of the unprecedented collaboration from our industry stakeholders, each of whom had a common goal – strengthening the sport for our fans. This is an enhancement fully rooted in teamwork, and the result will be an even better product every single week.”

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. In addition, the top-10 drivers in points leading into the playoffs will receive playoff points, with second place receiving 10 playoff points, third place will earn 8 points, fourth place will receive 7 points, and so on. All playoff points will carry through to the end of the Round of 8.

“These are enhancements that the NASCAR fan has long sought, and the entire industry has worked hard to develop a better racing format for our fans,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “This format puts a premium on every victory and every in-race position over the course of the season. Each point can eventually result in winning or losing a championship.”

Among those who contributed to the specifics of the new format and were on hand at the press conference were former drivers Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton (both of whom now work for television networks who broadcast races); current drivers Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr and  Brad Keselowski; Speedway Motorsports boss Marcus  Smith; and presidents of Cup teams from Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports.

Gone is the name “Chase”.

“The stages are going to bring a lot of excitement for the drivers and the fans,” Earnhardt said.”Definitely, I think this creates a lot of interest on the part of the event, at every event, every single week.”

“I think we came up with something really incredible,” Gordon, a four-time champion in Cup, said.

“This is going to be the best racing you’ve ever seen,” Keselowski said.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, January 23 2017
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