Pit Note No. 1: NASCAR Makes Sweeping Changes to Race Formats, Revamps Playoff System
NASCAR revolutionized its national touring series competition formats in a Monday announcement that kicked off the three-day 35th Annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. The sanctioning body worked with industry stakeholders, drivers, television partners, team principals and track executives to develop a race format that rewards risk taking and aggressive strategy while adding importance to every race. Races will consist of three stages, the first two of which will pay points to the top-10 finishers on a sliding scale. The first and second stage winners earn one point toward the 16-driver playoffs should they qualify, while the overall race winner will receive five playoff points and 40 championship points. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said the new format will be "more compelling on an hour-by-hour basis, week-in and week-out." A full list of NASCAR's changes can be found here. Former drivers-turned-announcers Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton joined one driver from each manufacturer to speak on behalf of the competition enhancements, which also include referring to NASCAR's 10-race postseason as "the Playoffs" instead of "the Chase." "I think this is going to enhance the experience for the competitors as well as the fans at home," said Gordon, a four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ford driver Brad Keselowski and Toyota's Denny Hamlin stressed the enhancements will benefit the industry and its ardent supporters. "There are no off weeks. Every single race matters," Hamlin said. "Not only that but every lap of every race matters. Each accomplishment makes your road to Homestead-Miami (for the season finale) a little bit easier." Earnhardt said the bonus points carrying through the playoffs give drivers more incentive to battle every lap. "The stages are going to bring a lot of excitement for the drivers and the fans," Earnhardt added. "This generates a lot of interest in every part of an event. It's an exciting time for NASCAR." Keselowski said the "single-file, ride-it-out days are gone. I'm really pumped about that." The changes will go into effect in the season-opening races next month at Daytona International Speedway. "Everyone had some great input, but it all came back to what's going to be great for the fans," Speedway Motorsports, Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith said. The 35th Annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway continues Tuesday morning. Driver media availabilities will be streamed live throughout the event on NASCAR.com. Daily updates will be available at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Follow #CMSMediaTour for all the latest updates.