NASCAR announced Monday (Jan. 23) in a press conference significant changes to the method in which points will be earned during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series races in 2017.
All points paying events will divided into segments or stages. The number of stages will vary based on the venue and length of the event. However, teams will know prior to the start of the season how each race will be segmented. Bonus points will be awarded to the top 10 drivers in the running order at the conclusion of the first and second stages. The leader will get 10 points and each following position will decrease by one, with 10th place getting one bonus point.
Additionally, the caution flag will be displayed at the end of each stage. NASCAR will work with television networks in an attempt to coordinate commercial breaks to occur primarily during segment breaks. This will serve to allow viewers to see as much on track activity as possible, including pit stops.
As for the final stage, little will change at the end of the race. Points will still be awarded for finishing positions just as they were in 2016. The winner will get 40 points on down to one point for the 40th-place finisher. A driver’s point total for each race will consist of the points earned for their position at the end of the event, plus any bonus points earned during previous segments.
Points for leading a lap or leading the most laps have been eliminated.
There will be no changes to how drivers qualify for the 16 openings in the chase. A win still earns a berth for a driver in the top 30 in points after Richmond in September.
However, stage wins and race wins will provide additional points for drivers in the playoffs. The top 10 will be issued playoff points prior to the Chase beginning after Richmond International Raceway in September. A stage win will be worth one playoff point. Race wins will be worth five playoff points. These bonuses will carry through the first three rounds and continue to build through the playoffs.
“This truly was a collaboration, a lot of give and take.” said NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell. “Ultimately, everyone on this stage wanted to do what was right for the fans. This format puts a premium on every victory and every in-race position over the course of the season. Each point can result in winning or losing a championship.”