As it sold the latest changes to the Sprint Cup Series format on Thursday, NASCAR leaned heavily on a winning crutch.
The key points of the new Chase format:
- The field is expanded from 12 to 16 drivers. All drivers with a win in the first 26 races and the highest-ranking winless drivers will fill out the 16-driver field. At the beginning of the Chase, each driver will have his or her points reset to 2,000. Three bonus points will be added for each win in the first 26 races.
- The 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup now contains eliminations. After the first three races, the bottom four drivers will be eliminated. Then after the next three, the next lowest four are eliminated from title contention. Following the ninth race of the season, the top four drivers will go into Homestead on level points standing. The highest finishing driver wins the title.
- If a driver wins a race in a three-race segment, he or she automatically advances to the next three-race segment in the Chase.
- To be eligible