CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France revealed sweeping changes to the sanctioning body’s point system during a press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Jan. 26.
Included in those changes was confirmation of the switch to a “simpler” 43-1 point system in all three of NASCAR’s national touring divisions. Under the new system a race winner will earn 43 points plus three points for winning and one point for leading a lap.
The driver who leads the most laps will also earn one bonus point, so a race winner can earn as many as 48 points in a race. Second will earn 42 points, with each position thereafter decreasing by one point, with the 43rd place finisher earning a single point.
“Beginning this year, we’ll award points in all NASCAR series by one-point increments,” said France. “Race winners will continue to get extra points for the win, and then everyone else is separated by one point.
“So now everyone will know when a driver is down by 10 points, that he needs to pass 11 more cars to take the lead in the point standings. Very much a simple, easy-to-understand system for us,” France added.
NASCAR has also changed how drivers qualify for the Chase. Like previous seasons the first 10 drivers in the standings will make the Chase, but the final two positions in the Chase will be awarded to the two drivers outside the top-10 with the most victories, but still ranked in the top 20.
If there are no drivers outside the top 10 with a victory the drivers in 11th and 12th in the standings will qualify for the Chase. If there are multiple drivers tied in victories, NASCAR will break that tie by awarding the spot in the Chase to the driver higher in the points.
At the start of the Chase each of the 12 drivers will revert to 2,000 points, with victories prior to the Chase earning each driver three bonus points per victory. The wild card drivers will not earn bonus points for victories before the Chase.
The point system is drastically different from the one used by NASCAR since 1975. The old system awarded 185 points to the race winner, with five bonus points for leading a lap and five points for leading the most laps. Second-place got 170 points, with that number decreasing in varied increments down to 34 points for last place.
The series has also made changes to its qualifying format. Qualifying order will be based on practice speeds, with the slowest cars qualifying first and the fastest cars qualifying last. The top-35 cars and go-or-go homers will still be grouped together during each qualifying session.
In case of rain or other bad weather NASCAR will also set the starting order through practice speeds, meaning the fastest car in practice will start from the pole. If rain washes out practice and qualifying, then the lineup will be set via owner points.
As previously reported, drivers in all three national series now must select the series where they’ll compete for a driver championship. Drivers still may compete in multiple series and help their teams win owner titles in series where they’re not competing for a driver title.
In other news, Sprint Cup teams will now be limited to five sets of tires for practice and qualifying instead of six and they must return four of those sets to Goodyear in order to receive their race allotment. The closed loop fueling system will also be mandated in all three national touring divisions this year, eliminating the catch-can man during pit stops.