CHARLOTTE, N.C.

NASCAR is taking a progressive approach to modernizing its series with a radical new format.

It’s complicated and confusing to explain.

But the panel that spent the last seven months on this overhaul promised it’s going to be the best thing to happen in NASCAR in a very long time.

The overhaul announced Monday assigns three stages to every race. The top 10 drivers at the end of Stage 1 and Stage 2 will be awarded points on a 10-through-1 scale. The third portion of the race will be for the overall victory, and although traditional point scoring will be applied for that stage, the win will be worth 40 points. The rest of the field will be scored on a 35 to 2 scale, and positions 36th to 40 will only receive 1 point.

All bonus points accumulated through the 26-race regular season can be used in the 10-race playoff, which will no longer be called “The Chase.”

NASCAR worked with a wide range of industry stakeholders to come up with the changes. Heavily involved were the television networks, retired drivers Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton, current drivers from the driver council and team and track executives. Monster Energy, which signed last month as the title sponsor for NASCAR’s top series, was only informed of the changes in the last few weeks.

The new format begins with the Feb. 26 season-opening Daytona 500.

NASCAR was energized by the changes, particularly the stages that will allow for a commercial break that doesn’t occur during greenflag racing. Segment winners will be interviewed during the breaks, and NASCAR likes that it creates a pause that gives fans a chance to reset. It comes as the series is desperately trying to improve both attendance and television ratings, and Fox Sports estimated it will air 20 percent more of actual racing action because of the commercial breaks.

Other changes

— There will be no bonus points for leading a lap or for leading the most laps. — The number of laps in each of the first two segments will be the same in a race, and the end of the second stage will be approximately at the halfway point of the race. — Drivers will now earn bonus points that will be called playoff points and carry with them through the 10-race playoffs. Drivers will earn five playoff points for every race win and one playoff point for every segment win. — The playoffs will remain divided into three three-race rounds with four drivers eliminated after each round to set up four finalists for the season finale, where the four finalists will not be eligible to earn segment victories. — The exhibition duels during Speedweeks at Daytona next month will now be worth 10 points to the two race winners.



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