Earlier today, NASCAR‘s Brian France revealed the new Chase format.
How The Chase Field Is Set
The Chase now consists of 16 drivers instead of 12. Basically, if you win a race, you’re in the Chase. If the points leader after Richmond does not have any wins, then the 16th spot in the Chase is reserved for him. If fewer than 16 drivers win, then the highest drivers in points without wins are given the remaining spots. If more than 16 drivers win, then the drivers with the most wins make it. If there is a tie with multiple drivers who all have a win, they they will revert to whoever is highest in the points.
A driver must also be inside the top-30 in points and attempt every race (unless sidelined due to medical reasons) in order to be eligible. Three bonus points are awarded to each driver for every win they earned during the regular season. If a driver wins a race but fails post-race tech, they get to keep the win but the victory does not count towards the Chase.
How The Chase Itself Works
The Chase itself is split up into four rounds. Round 1 is called the Challenger Round and consists of three races, where the 12th-16th place cars are eliminated. Points then reset to 3,000 for those who advance. Round 2 is called the Contender Round, and it consists of three races where the eighth to 11th-place cars are eliminated. Points then reset to 4,000 for those who advance.
Round 3 is called the Eliminator Round and it consists of three races, where the fifth to seventh-place cars are eliminated. Points then reset to 5,000 for those who advance. Round 4 is called the Championship Round, and it consists only of the season finale. Bonus points for leading laps are not given to ensure that the highest finisher of the final four drivers wins the title. In order to advance through to the next round, drivers must either win a race during that time or score enough points to survive.
This new format puts a huge emphasis on winning and opens up the door to the underdogs of NASCAR making their way into the postseason discussion. This is the third time NASCAR has altered the Chase format since its inception in 2004. The first time was when they expanded the field from 10 to 12 drivers in 2007 and then made the final two spots the Wild Cards in 2011. This is by far the most radical change though.
Nick DeGroot is a Contributing Writer for Rant Sports NASCAR. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89