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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Grid Announced; Four Driver Championship Race

January 30th, 2014 at 8:33 PM
By Mark Eddinger

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France laid out the sweeping an radical changes to the way NASCAR will decide its champion in the Sprint Cup Series on Thursday. Changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup include expanding the field to 16 drivers, having eliminations during the Chase, and a highest finisher-take all final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

'IMG_4809' photo (c) 2012, Parker Anderson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

“We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race – all of which is exactly what fans want,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We have looked at a number of concepts for the last three years through fan research, models and simulations, and also maintained extensive dialogue with our drivers, teams and partners. The new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be thrilling, easy to understand and help drive our sport’s competition to a whole new level.”

After race 26 at Richmond International Raceway 16 drivers will be slotted into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Grid. The top 15 drivers with the most wins will automatically qualify for the Chase as long as they are in the top 30 in driver points and have attempted to qualify for every race. NASCAR did leave the exception of "rare instances" which would seem to mean if a driver missed a race or two due to injury but has won in the first 26 races and is back healthy for the Chase.

The 16th position would go to the points leader after race 26 if they had not already qualified by winning a race. In that case the 16th spot would go to the next highest driver in points without a win. If there are not 15 winners in the first 26 races then the open spots on the Chase Grid will be given to those highest in points without a win. If there are more than 16 drivers with a win in the first 26 races, which is unlikely, then the tie break will go to number of wins and then points position.

Just like in previous seasons, the drivers that make the Chase will have their point total set to 2,000 points plus three points for every win they had.

Races 27, 28 and 29 of the season at Chicagoland, New Hampshire, and Dover will be called the "Challenger Round." Any driver that wins during these three races will automatically move to the next round by having their points jump to 3,000. The top 12 drivers in points after the race at Dover will advance with the bottom four drivers eliminated. Those who advance will have their points set to 3,000.

Races 30, 31 and 32 of the season at Kansas, Charlotte, and Talladega will be called the "Contender Round." If any driver in the top 12 wins during these three races they will automatically move to the next round by having their points jump to 4,000. The top eight drivers in points after the race at Talladega will advance with the bottom four drivers eliminated. Those who advance will have their points set to 4,000.

Races 33, 34 and 35 of the season at Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix will be called the "Eliminator Round." If any driver in the top eight wins during these three races they will automatically move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship by having their points jump to 5,000. The top four drivers in points after Phoenix will advance with the bottom four drivers eliminated.

The four remaining drivers will have their points set to 5,000 and will race at Homestead-Miami in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship race with the driver who finishes highest taking the championship.

This same system will be used for the owner championship structure.

When a driver is eliminated from the Chase Grid their points will go back to the normal points format in sync with all other drivers in the field no longer in contention for the championship. This will make it so all of the drivers that did not make the four driver championship race eligible to compete for fifth place in the points.

Tags: Brian France, Chase for the Sprint Cup, Chase Grid, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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