As we get closer to Daytona, more news comes out about changes in the world of NASCAR. One of the latest comes to the Sprint Cup chase. NASCAR announced this past week that there will be a new championship format expanding the Chase field to 16 drivers, puts a greater emphasis on winning races through the entire season, and brings a new round by round advancement format.

NASCAR believes the new format makes every race matter more and diminishes points racing. The new changes include:

  • A win in the first 26 races could guarantee a driver a spot in the 10 race Chase. This will put a new premium on winning a race all season.
  • Expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers. Those drivers will advance to what is being called the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Grid.
  • The number of drivers in contention for the championship will decrease after every 3 Chase races. 16 racers to start, 12 after race 3, 8 after Chase race 6, and 4 after race 9.
  • Each section of three Chase races will have a different distinction. The first 3 Chase races (races 27-29) known as the Challenger round, the next 3 (30-32)- the Contender round, the next set (33-35)- the Eliminator round, and the final race (race 36)- the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
  • A win in any Chase race by a championship eligible driver will guarantee the driver a spot in the next Chase round.
  • The 4 drivers that make it to the final round will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship for a chance at the Cup. The Highest finisher among the 4 will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

The top 15 drivers with the most wins in the first 26 races will earn a spot in the Grid, if they finish in the top 30 in points and attempt to qualify for every race.  The 16th spot will go to the points leader after race 26, if they do not have a victory. If there are more than 16 different winners the only winless driver to win a spot in the Grid would be the points leader after 26 races. If there are fewer than 16 different winners the remaining Grid positions will go to the highest point winners.

This should add a lot of excitement to the Chase this year. Makes everyone push a little harder with each race to make it to the Chase.