NASCAR is listening to the fans and its Chairman and CEO Brian France announced changes to the Chase format that he says is “simpler” and will emphasize the importance of winning.
Here are the changes as outlined today by NASCAR:
The NASCAR Chase grid will expand to 16 drivers, called the NASCAR Chase Grid. The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will participate in the NASCAR Chase grid. Those drivers will have needed to finish in the top 30 in points and attempted to qualify in each race. The 16th Chase position will go to the points leader after the last race of the “regular season” if he/she does not have a victory.
If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the first 26 races, the remaining Chase positions will go to those winless drivers highest in points.
A victory in the first 26 races all by guarantees a berth in the 10-race Chase. The number of championship contenders will decrease after every three Chase races. The top 12 drivers will then race to qualify to be in the next elimination round where the field will be slimmed down to eight after Chase race No. 6. After Chase race No. 9, the top four drivers will drive in the final race for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The first three races of the Chase will be known as the Challenger Round with Chase races four through six as the Contender Round and Chase races seven through nine as the Eliminator Round. The final race will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship where the highest finisher will win the championship.
Grid drivers will have points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races. When the next round comes into play, the points reset. Bonus points will not be counted in the final race for the championship.
A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Chase race will automatically clinch a spot in the next Chase round.
Brian France said this format makes more sense.
“We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race – all of which is exactly what fans want,” said France. “We have looked at a number of concepts for the last three years through fan research, models and simulations, and also maintained extensive dialogue with our drivers, teams and partners. The new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be thrilling, easy to understand and help drive our sport’s competition to a whole new level.”