After 10 years with a Chase format where the driver who accumulated the most points over the season’s final 10 races was crowned
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, officials made
a radical change in 2014.
Instead of allowing for the possibility of any
number of drivers to remain mathematically
championship eligible until the conclusion of the
final race, NASCAR instituted an elimination-style
playoff format culminating in a one-race, winner-take-all season finale in which just four drivers
would compete for the title.
So far, the change has delivered on its intended
goal of boosting TV ratings and the level of fan
excitement, and ratcheting up the pressure that
drivers and teams face over the course of 10
already fiercely intense weekends.
“A lot of people thought that an elimination-style
format in motorsports wasn’t possible – and it
wouldn’t work properly – and the reality is it’s not
only possible; it is the most exciting form of motorsports,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France
said. “Rather it’s the way to crown the champion in
the most exciting form of motorsports, and there’s
no question about that.”
The top- 15 drivers with the most wins over the
first 26 races earn a spot in the Chase Grid – provided they have finished in the top 30 in points. The
16th Chase position goes to the points leader after
race No. 26 if that driver does not have a victory.
If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the
first 26 races, the remaining Chase Grid positions
go to those winless drivers highest in points.
The number of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint
Cup drivers in contention for the championship
decreases after every three Chase races, from 16
to start in the Chase Grid; 12 after Chase Race
No. 3; eight after Chase Race No. 6; and four after
Chase Race No. 9.
The first three races of the Chase ( 27-29) are
known as the Round of 16 and are held at Chicagoland Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
and Dover International Raceway, respectively.
Dover, where the field of championship-eligible
drivers decreases from 16 to 12, is the first of three
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22 POLE POSI TION 2016