Skip to content

Breaking down the new changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup

Jan 30, 2014, 3:34 PM EDT

Chase for the sprint cup logo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In one of the biggest changes of his 11-year administration, NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France on Thursday announced a new format to the Chase for the Sprint Cup designed to further emphasize winning and enhance fan excitement – and potentially create a vibe that sells more tickets and increases TV ratings in the process.

The new format “is as simple as it gets,” France said during a roughly 20-minute presentation to the press on the final day of the NASCAR Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center.

“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,” France said. “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.”

Here’s a breakdown on how the new format shakes out:

1) The Chase field will increase in size from 12 to 16 drivers. There will no longer be two wild card entries that make the Chase.

2) A win in the first 26 races all but guarantees a driver a berth in the 10-race Chase.

3) The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races earn an automatic berth in what is being called the NASCAR Chase Grid – provided they leave Richmond, the 26th race, in the top 30 in points and have attempted to qualify for every race up to that point on the schedule.

4) If there are 16 or more different winners in the first 26 races, the only winless driver who can earn a berth would be the points leader after Richmond. For example, if Jeff Gordon goes through the first 26 races without a win but is the points leader after Richmond, he would be the only winless driver to qualify for the Chase.

5) If there are fewer than 16 race winners in the first 26 races, the 16-driver Chase field would be filled out with winless drivers with the most points following the first 26 races.

6) The points will be reset to 2,000 after the 16-driver Chase field is finalized following the September race at Richmond.

7) In perhaps the biggest key difference of the new format, the lowest-ranked four drivers (13th through 16th place) after the first three races will be eliminated from further advancement in the Chase, leaving 12 drivers. There will be a second round of elimination of the next-lowest four drivers (9th through 12th place) after the sixth race of the Chase, and a third round of elimination of the lowest four of the eight (5th through 8th place) remaining championship-eligible drivers after the ninth race. That sets up the biggest battle of the season, a four-driver winner-take-all race in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

8) The first three races of the Chase will be known as the Challenger Round (races 27-29). The fourth through sixth races of the Chase will be known as the Contender Round (races 30-32). The seventh through ninth races of the Chase will be known as the Eliminator Round (races 33-35). The final race will be known simply as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship (race 36).

9) Any driver that wins a race in the first three Chase races (the Challenger Round) automatically advances to the next round. Likewise, a driver that wins a race in the second round (Contender Round) advances to the third round, and a third-round (Eliminator Round) race winner advances to the four-driver final round (Sprint Cup Championship).

10) If one of the final four drivers wins the season finale at Homestead, he/she is the champion. Otherwise, the highest-finishing driver in the race would then win the championship. One other note about the season-ending race: there will be NO bonus points for laps led. All four drivers will start the race tied in points, with the highest finisher being crowned champion.

Follow me on Twitter @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. FIA stewards take no action over five-car incident on first lap of British Grand Prix

    Jul 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Grosjean, Ricciardo, Maldonado, Alonso and Button all cleared of any wrongdoing after first lap incident.

  2. WATCH LIVE: Red Bull GRC from MCAS New River at 5 p.m. ET on NBC

    Jul 5, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    OMSEdaytona Getty Images

    Before NASCAR resumes on NBC from Daytona, see Red Bull GRC pick up its season from its first race after Daytona, at MCAS New River.

  3. F1 Paddock Pass: British Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:06 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Will Buxton brings you all of the post-race interviews and analysis at Silverstone.

  4. Alonso takes “small joy” from first point of 2015 season

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    P10 at Silverstone gets Alonso off the mark in 2015.

  5. Manor scores best result since Monaco 2014 at Silverstone

    Jul 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Will Stevens of Great Britain and Manor Marussia drives during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens finish 12th and 13th at Manor’s home race.

  6. Massa frustrated to lose podium finish in late downpour

    Jul 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (L) leads Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.      AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Brazilian driver forced to settle for fourth place at Silverstone on Sunday.

  7. Ricciardo sidelined by electrical issue in British GP

    Jul 5, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Issue on the Renault power unit forces Ricciardo out of the race at Silverstone.

  8. Hopes of first win fade for Bottas due to team orders, late rain shower at Silverstone

    Jul 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas and Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (R) race during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Could today have marked Valtteri Bottas’ first victory in Formula 1?

  9. Vettel thanks rain for podium finish at Silverstone, doubts Williams made a massive step

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel holds a trophy after taking third place in the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.    AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A late rain shower allows Vettel to claim Ferrari’s first podium finish since the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

  10. Rosberg recovers to second at Silverstone, praises Hamilton for late pit call

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP makes a pit stop during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After a poor start, Rosberg fights his way to second place at Silverstone, but slips further behind Hamilton in the drivers’ championship.

  11. Emotional Hamilton tears up on last lap of British GP, thanks fans for support en route to win

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.
 AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton won his home grand prix for the third time on Sunday after seeing off a spirited challenge from Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and both Williams drivers.

  12. Hamilton weathers the storm to claim third British GP victory at Silverstone

    Jul 5, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton races during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.      AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton beats the weather and the field to record his third victory at Silverstone.

  13. GP2: Haryanto claims third sprint race win of season

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Rossi charges to fourth place in spite of a time penalty.

  14. WATCH LIVE: British GP Race Day on CNBC and Live Extra from 7:30am ET

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      
 AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton win for a third time on home soil? Or will Nico Rosberg spoil his homecoming?

  15. What to watch for: British Grand Prix (7:30am ET on CNBC and Live Extra)

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:31 AM EDT

    Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (L) shares a joke with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton after the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took pole ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg with Massa in third place.
 AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Everything you need to know ahead of today’s race at Silverstone.

  16. Mallya stresses sustainability in bid to ‘uncrap’ F1

    Jul 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 11: UB group Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Mallya talking with media at Parliament House after attending the extended winter session on February 11, 2014 in New Delhi, India.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) Getty Images

    The coinage of a new term took place at Silverstone on Thursday thanks for Force India’s owner.

  17. Raikkonen and Vettel downbeat as Ferrari lags to third row at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Both Ferraris will start behind Williams for the first time in 2015 on Sunday.

  18. Ricciardo disappointed to have qualifying times deleted

    Jul 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing prepares in the garage during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Red Bull driver will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix from tenth place on the grid.

  19. GP2: Sirotkin claims maiden win as Rossi storms to second place at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    A lively GP2 race sees Sirotkin claim his first win in the series ahead of Rossi and championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne.