Understanding the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup
Chances are if you’re a NASCAR fan you already get it. But for the uninitiated here is how you understand NASCAR’s season-ending, Chase for the Sprint Cup. The first thing to understand is it is just like every other playoff in professional sports. What has happened during the regular season has no bearing in the end. You need to race well or you are eliminated. RELATED: See The Noob’s Guide to NASCAR
Sixteen drivers have qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup after 26 races during the regular season. (A complete list of qualifiers is available on the NASCAR website.) Drivers are chosen based on wins and points earned for laps lead and place finished in races during the season if 16 different drivers don’t win a race.
The chase starts with three races in the Challenger Round. It begins Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway followed by New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway in the following weeks. Winners of any of the three races automatically advances to the next round. The bottom four drivers, based on points earned, get cut.
The quirky thing is the Chase for the Sprint Cup goes on amidst regular full-field races of 43 drivers. It’s not like the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup where the golfers hang up their clubs once they are eliminated. The drivers keep racing.
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The next phase is called the Contender Round. The top 12 drivers will be competing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. They all begin this round with 3,000 points and build from there.
Again, a win advances a driver automatically to the round of eight called the Eliminator. The remaining drivers who don’t win in this stage advance based on points earned during these three races. The bottom four drivers are eliminated from contention.
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The three tracks used in the Eliminator Round are: Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. As before, a win automatically advances the driver to the championship round.
Only four will qualify for that—and this is the most exciting because it comes down to who wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Nov. 22. Points don’t matter. It’s all about who crosses that finish line first.
Hope this helps you better under the race for the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. It’s made the end of the season a lot more dramatic for race fans.
Photo credits: NASCAR.com
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