CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR is dramatically changing its format for the upcoming season, cutting every race into stages that reward points in hopes of make every lap matter.
The overhaul announced Monday assigns three stages to every race. The top 10 drivers at the end of Stage 1 and Stage 2 will be awarded points on a 10-through-1 scale. The third portion of the race will be for the overall victory, and although traditional point scoring will be applied for that stage, the win will be worth 40 points. The rest of the field will be scored on a 35 to 2 scale, and positions 36th to 40 will only receive 1 point.
All points accumulated through the 26-race regular season can be used in the 10-race playoff, which will no longer be called “The Chase.”
— 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 the driver total at the start of the playoffs.
— All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs. The four title contenders will race straight-up in the season finale for the title.
— The exhibition duels during Speedweeks at Daytona next month will now be worth 10 points to the two race winners.
The new format begins with the Feb. 26 season-opening Daytona 500.