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Points system to change

Steve Mickey

Steve Mickey

Ever since NASCAR Chairman Brian France announced early in the month during an interview on Motor Racing Network that he was not satisfied with the current point system, speculation has risen that the sanctioning body would be announcing a change before the beginning of the 2014 season. Although no official release has been made, some of the sport’s key industry stakeholders have been briefed about possible changes to not only the point system leading up to the Chase, but also the format that will be used for the Chase.

NASCAR has always relied on some form of a consistencybased points system that before the 2004 season basically kept a running tally of all of the points accumulated during the season with the driver with the highest total being crowned the champion at season’s end. That changed when the Chase was introduced for the 2004 season that featured a 26-race regular season that was used to set the field for the Chase that would ultimately determine the title winner.

Apparently this is not set in stone, but according to individuals that were in on the briefing held by NASCAR late last week, the new points system will undergo radical changes with the Chase featuring the elimination of drivers. The new system for making the chase will really put an emphasis on winning races during the first 26 races of the season.

A win during this portion of the schedule would all but guarantee a full-time driver a spot in the Chase field that will be expanded from 12 to 16 drivers. If there are more than 16 different winners, the 16 with the most wins and the highest in points will advance to the Chase. Chances are that there may not be 16 different winners during that span of races and if that happens the remaining spots will be filled by the drivers with the highest point totals.

The 16 drivers moving into the Chase round will be seeded according to the number of wins they have posted with drivers making it in on points rounding out the field. Once the Chase’s 10-race schedule gets underway, it will turn into an elimination round.

Points will be awarded during the Chase just like every other race on the schedule and the four drivers with the lowest point totals after the first three races will be eliminated from having the opportunity to run for the title. This elimination of four drivers will be repeated after the sixth and ninth races, leaving only four teams to battle for the championship in the last race of the Chase at Homestead-Miami.

The four remaining teams will take the final green flag of the season with all of their points being reset with the same amount of points. If one of the four wins the race, he would also be crowned the series champion. If none of the four make it to victory lane, the title would go to the driver who earned the most points.

Those being briefed by NASCAR were told that there could still be more changes made to the new format, but that was the direction that the sanctioning body was headed. NASCAR has no plans to make any public statement at this time about any changes for the upcoming season, but it will be announcing any potential changes to the media and fans very soon.

Once it is announced that these are indeed the changes that NASCAR will be introducing, it will be interesting to see the different reactions from the owners, drivers and the fans. This is one fan that already likes what he is hearing as winning is more important than ever and the 10-race Chase will be more like the playoffs of the other major sports where the best keep moving toward the title.

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