By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
FORT WORTH, Tex. – With Friday night’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race already in the books as another Kyle Busch victory, series director Wayne Auton already is turning his full attention toward next Saturday’s race at Bristol and its inaugural heat race format.
Though the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash remains an integral part of the series, the conduct of the competition is brand new, and as Auton explained, many of the ideas for the new format came from the garage itself, particularly when it comes to cost-saving measures.
For the first time, an XFINITY Series event will consist of time trials to determine the field, two heat races (with the field split by odd-numbered and even-numbered qualifiers) to determine starting order and a main event to determine both the race winner and Dash 4 Cash winner.
Here are the germane points:
The two highest-finishing eligible drivers in each heat race (with eligibility confined to drivers earning points in the XFINITY Series) will compete for the Dash 4 Cash prize in the main event. The highest finisher among the four Dash 4 Cash drivers (signified by a red sticker on each of their windshields) gets the $100,000 bonus.
No backup cars are allowed. If a driver wrecks during a heat race, his or her team may work on the car only until the checkered flag for that heat. If a driver fails to transfer from a heat to the main event, he or she will still be assigned a finish in the main, with commensurate points. No points are awarded for heat races.
“We really feel comfortable with the criteria we’ve come up with,” Auton said. “This was a lot of legwork done before anybody knew anything about it.”
There’s also a substantial incentive for any driver who can win two Dash 4 Cash bonuses, given that two Dash 4 Cash wins totaling $200,000 count as a race win toward eligibility into the XFINITY Series Chase. Under the circumstances, late-race action is likely to be frenetic.
“For $100,000 I’d turn my mama,” Auton said with a chuckle. “If I’m running third, and I need to get in that second spot to get a chance, hold on, baby, for that last lap, because I might move you around a little. That’s the reason we think it’s going to be so exciting.”
Image: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images