NASCAR ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES TO THE CHASE
Matt Kenseth's championship in 2003 led to a radical change in 2004, when NASCAR introduced the Chase For The Sprint Cup. After 26 of the 36 races, the drivers in the top 10 had their points reset for a 10-race showdown (photo courtesy: Chris Trotman, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
NASCAR Chairman Brian France today announced a restructuring of the points system in its premier NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The changes to the Chase For The Sprint Cup will result in four drivers battling for the title during the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16.
There will be no points advantage for any of the drivers coming into the Miami race, and each of the four will be on equal footing as the green flag is waved. It’s now a winner-take-all affair -- the driver that finishes best among the four contenders will claim the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
The drivers that compete for the crown will be the four survivors from the field that will now expand to 16 drivers (formerly 12) that compete in the 10-race Chase. The new format now features eliminations after the third, sixth and ninth races in the 10-race Chase For The Sprint Cup. Drivers that win a Chase race will automatically advance to the next segment.
“This is, without question, fantastic news for Homestead-Miami Speedway,” said track President Matthew Becherer. “We’ve had some exciting battles between two or three drivers during Ford Championship Weekend in our 12 years of hosting championship races, but now we are guaranteed to have four of NASCAR’s best Sprint Cup Series drivers battling head-to-head, all of whom will be on equal footing to win the championship. It will all come down to Homestead-Miami Speedway in a one-race shootout. No more calculating points -- it’s simple – the best championship contender takes all. We applaud NASCAR for implementing these changes and its continued commitment to innovation. I think that I can speak for our community when I say that we are absolutely thrilled with this announcement."
The new Chase qualifying format places greater emphasis on winning races. In fact, race wins will virtually guarantee drivers entry into the Chase For The Sprint Cup. Each race winner during the season’s first 26-races will make the 16-driver Chase, provided that there are not more than 16 winners. If there are more than 16, tiebreakers will go to the driver(s) with more points on the season. Drivers will receive bonus points based on wins prior to the final 10 races.
Renewal packets for 2014 Ford Championship Weekend will be sent in the first few days of March. Tickets will go on sale to the general public May 1. Given that four drivers are guaranteed to have a realistic shot at a title, an increased demand on championship tickets is expected.
This year will mark the 13th consecutive year that NASCAR’s season-ending championship races in its top three national series will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
These changes come on the heels of a new qualifying structure that was announced by NASCAR earlier this month. The changes for the Coors Light Pole Award at Homestead-Miami include a 25-minute elimination round qualifying that includes all 43 cars with the 24 cars that post the fastest single lap advancing to the second round. The second round will be 14 minutes in duration with the fastest 12 cars/trucks advancing to the third and final round, which will be five minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1 through 12 in descending order. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series will all qualify under this format.