By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
Change. Whether it’s in business or in your personal life, the one and only constant is change. On Monday evening at the Charlotte Convention Center, NASCAR executives announced a major change to the racing for all three of its national series. These changes come as attendance and ratings continue to decline and the sanctioning body looks for a way to keep fans engaged throughout the course of a race.
The new format breaks down as follows:
- Each race will have three stages
- Stage 1 and 2 Top-10 finishers will be awarded additional championship points
- Stage 1 and 2 winners earn one playoff point
- The race winner earns five playoff points
- Regular season top-10 in the championship standings receive playoff points
- Playoff points carry through the playoff rounds until the finale at Homestead-Miami
- The Championship 4 will still race straight-up at Homestead-Miami for the title
Gone is the Chase moniker for NASCAR’s version of the playoffs and the final 10 races to decide the champion will be referred to simply as what they are, the playoffs.
Are you confused yet? There is no doubt at first glance the changes appear complex and complicated. As with any change, there is always resistance to that which doesn’t feel familiar. The bottom line is these modifications should make the early and middle stages of the races more meaningful and as a result more exciting. Keeping eyeballs tuned into the race benefits everyone from the fans to the all-important sponsors.
“These are enhancements that the NASCAR fan has long sought, and the entire industry has worked hard to develop a better racing format for our fans,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “This format puts a premium on every victory and every in-race position over the course of the season. Each point can eventually result in winning or losing a championship.”
Will these changes make races at the national series level more exciting?
“Please trust us. When you see this on the racetrack, this is going to be the best racing you’ve ever seen,” said 2012 Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski during the Monday evening announcement.
Maybe you gave up on the sport years ago when the Chase format was announced. Maybe the loss of stars Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards left you without a favorite driver and you lost interest. Maybe today was the last straw and you have sworn to never watch another NASCAR race.
I urge you, the fan, to give this format a chance. Enter the start of the 2017 season clear of any preconceived notions. At the end of the day, it’s still cars racing on a track, regardless of how the points break down. I’m ready to see the green flag at Daytona.
How do you feel about the changes announced on Monday? Leave your thoughts in the comments.