O’Reilly Auto Parts 500



NASCAR officials announced a new race structure and playoff points system for all three of its national series that will change the dynamic of racing, creating more drama and excitement for both the drivers and its loyal fans.

Races will now be divided into three stages, with the number of laps in each determined in advance according to race length and venue. The top 10 drivers in each of the first two segments will score championship points – 10 to the winner, nine to second place, and so forth.

The race winner – the driver who takes the checkered flag at the conclusion of the final stage – will receive 40 championship points, while second-place earns 35, with succeeding position worth one point less.

Along with races divided into three stages, NASCAR has added postseason incentives to each race. The winners of the first two stages earn one playoff point each, and those points are transferred throughout the first three rounds of the 10-race postseason format.

The race winner receives five playoff points, which also carry forward until the season-ending Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where points are reset to zero and the highest-finishing driver among the four who are eligible for the title claims the championship.

“There are no off weeks,” Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin said. “Every single race matters.  ”¦ Not only that, but every lap of every race matters. From our standpoint, you always felt a little bit relaxed once you got a race win, and you would sometimes maybe go into test mode or something. Now with each accomplishment that you have during each given race, whether you’re collecting points for the overall regular season or you’re trying to collect points through a stage win or a race win, each accomplishment gives your road to Homestead a little bit easier, gives you a little bit of cushion there to be able to get through the playoffs and make it to Homestead. And that’s what it’s all about for us is making it to Homestead and trying to race for a championship, and I think this format does it for it.”

The new format along with the current repaving and re-profiling of Texas Motor Speedway will only escalate the intensity when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 9 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

“What this is going to mean is that you are going to have racing throughout the day,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “Not that there has ever been a time to kind of ride around, but now there is going to be a lot of points on the line. You’ve got to race hard the first 100 laps, race hard through those second 100 laps and then for the finish, of course, you’re always running hard. It’s going to make it better for the fans.”

The new race format has brought an end to term “Chase.” NASCAR will eliminate the term and move forward with “playoff” for all three series.

While much has changed, there are rules that will remain in place for 2017. Race winners will still qualify for the playoffs, as they have since NASCAR introduced the elimination format in 2014. But under the new system, drivers will still have a strong incentive to accumulate playoff points that will carry forward through the first nine races of the playoff, because those points could be critical to advancement.

The number of drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff will remain at 16. Playoff fields in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series will remain the same at 12 and eight drivers, respectively. Winning is still a premium, as it remains a drivers guaranteed ticket into the playoffs.

However, under the new system the regular season winner also provides an opportunity to earn playoff points without winning stages or races. The championship leader after 26 races receives 15 playoff points. Second place gets 10 points, third place eight, with each successive position worth one point less through the top 10 positions.

Like the points for stage and race wins, those earned for top-10 regular-season finishes carry forward through the Round of 8, which concludes at Phoenix International Raceway in November.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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