Race Fans! Did you hear that sound? That was the bomb dropped on the entire NASCAR fan base today. I say fan base because most everyone in the sport knew it was coming. There’s a whole lot of format changes for how points are awarded for a race, how the points are awarded throughout the season for the playoffs, and how they affect the playoffs. These changes are effective immediately for all 3 national touring series and the caution clock in the truck series is no more.
First, each race will consist of 3 segments. Before the race, segment ends will be announced. These segments will be definite and should coincide with race quarters or as near to it as they can get. If you are under yellow or under green, the segment end remains the same. Teams will not be allowed to pit within 5 laps of segment end.
At the end of the first and second segment the top 10 drivers will be awarded race points.
10 points to first, 9 points to second, and on down to tenth place receiving 1 point. Segment winners will be awarded 1 playoff point. We will discuss playoff points in a little bit.
The final segment points will be awarded, 40 points to first, 39 to the second and on down the line as usual. 5 playoff points will be awarded to the winner also. There are no longer lap leader bonus points.
The Chase name is no longer used, it is simply the playoffs. This allows teams to better communicate with potential sponsors using already established ideas. Sponsors understand what playoffs are, not necessarily what “The Chase” is in NASCAR. Playoff points will now carry through every round of the playoffs. Regular season Champion will be awarded 15 playoff points, 10 for second, 8 for third and 1 less per position down to 10th place in regular season points receiving 1 playoff point.
Races will no longer be “official” at the halfway point. Races will become official at the end of the second segment.
Additional rule changes; Daytona Twin 150’s will award race points to the top 10, just like segments but will not be awarded playoff points. NASCAR will now have more restrictions and limits on crash/damage repairs. Team will NO LONGER BE ALLOWED TO REPLACE BODY PANELS.
Now comes the big question, what does this mean for us fans?
First, less green flag interruption. Everyone on tonight’s panel kept coming back to this. Broadcast partners were involved in the entire process. With guaranteed breaks, television will cut away from green flag action less. When a segment ends TV will cut to a commercial. TV will come back for segment ends Pitstops, cutaway to commercial, come back for in-car driver is nthe view for the segment winner or crew chief interview. TV cuts away, when they return, it is back to green flag racing. This means less yellow flag laps, more green flag laps on TV. This has been a constant gripe with all fans and now we have a potential answer.
Secondly, this will ensure drivers are actually racing throughout the race. Drivers, team owners, officials, all the NASCAR brass refuse to admit that drivers would ride around and log laps. Not all but many would. I point to Tony Stewart who in 2006 at the first Pocono race wrecked Clint Bowyer because, “He was racing me too hard, too early. It’s time to settle in and log laps.” It’s not hard to see. Drivers would get single file and ride around, clicking off laps and many fans would tune in for the first 10-20 laps and then turn to something else. They would check back 2-3 hours later for the final 20 laps. We all know it because racing action often suffered with drivers just trying to log laps. If they want the most points possible, they will have to race… HARD. This is a huge win for fans who watch the entire race.
Next, regular season means something again! It means something from the Daytona qualifying races all the way to the last race. Playoff points carry over so your regular season champion always has the advantage, by the same amount. Race hard every race, take a pile of points into the playoffs.
Also, if your driver/team are running good and get taken out by someone else’s wreck after the second segment, they may still have a decent points day. If you run third in the first 2 segments and finish 30th, they would end the day with 27 points. Someone who runs 25th the first 2 segments and then finishes 15th will only take home 26 points. So your bad day can be better than someone who runs in the back and tries to point their way in through attrition.
Not being able to replace body panels will be a double edged sword. IF you can get back on track, you’ll be a lot slower. On the plus side, it will be safer for everyone if you don’t have body panels falling off. This should also reduce the number of duct tape cautions and overall track debris. However, if you’re like the 3 team at Talladega and can beat the fire out of it with a hammer, wood block, car chief body, and duct tape the body together, you will be one of few cars that can continue.
I’m going to slant this toward us 3 team fans, because that’s who matters to me (haha joking here). Austin Dillon is able to conserve his tires which we already know is going to be a hot ticket item this year. He tends to stay out of trouble, as long as the brakes aren’t self destructing. Austin has always raced the entire race. Very few times has he ever settled in and logged laps. He’s a real racer at heart and just cannot stop pushing. The 3 team as a whole refuses to quit, refuses to give up. Lead by Slugger Labbe and Greg Ebert, this team always finds a way to soldier on and complete the most laps possible.
After the announcement, 3 team crew chief, Slugger Labbe said, “I love and accept the new challenges from NASCAR today. A totally new twist for our sport.” Echoing that same sentiment, engine tuner for Austin Dillon, Frank Mathalia said, “I’m also pretty excited for it after I figured it all out.” Our team is excited, they are ready, they will adapt and excel with the new format. Just 26 days until the Dow Chevrolet takes to the track for the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona. Let’s get excited and give them a big send off! Til then…
See you from the box!