Xfinity Series moves to Chase format to determine championship

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Xfinity Series will determine its champion with a Chase format that will conclude with a four-driver shootout in Miami, NASCAR announced Tuesday morning.

The Xfinity Chase will feature 12 drivers racing for the title in the season’s final seven races.

A driver who wins a race or has two or more Dash for Cash wins (finishing the highest among the Dash 4 Cash drivers in each race) will be all but guaranteed a spot in the Chase provided the driver is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race. Any remaining spots in the 12-driver field will be based on points.

The 12 Chase drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000 at the beginning with three bonus points added for each win in the first 26 races. If a driver wins a race in the opening round, they advance to the next round. The remaining spots advance by points.

Drivers who make the second round will have their points set at 3,000. Drivers who win a race in that round advance to the championship event. The four drivers who advance to the championship race will have their points set at 4,000. The highest-finishing driver among those four will be crowned the series champion.

The first round will feature races at Kentucky (Sept. 24), Dover (Oct. 1) and Charlotte (Oct. 7) before the field is cut to eight drivers. The second round will feature races at Kansas (Oct. 15), Texas (Nov. 5) and Phoenix (Nov. 12). The field will be cut to four for the season finale at Miami.

NASCAR also announced that the 16 Sprint Cup drivers who qualified for last year’s Chase will not be eligible to compete in the Xfinity season finale at Miami. That means drivers such as Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth, among others, will not be able to compete in the Xfinity finale only.

The Xfinity series had determined its champion based on points earned throughout the entire season since its debut in 1982.

While there have been close title races through the years, it hasn’t been so the past two seasons.

Chris Buescher, who won last year’s Xfinity title, held a large enough lead that he needed to finish only 13th or better to clinch the title in Miami. In 2014, Chase Elliott clinched the title with one race left.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France praised the Chase format in the Sprint Cup Series on Tuesday and said using it in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series will teach the sport’s young drivers the challenges of winning a championship at the Sprint Cup level and better prepare them for what they’ll face.

“I think it’s important that they understand how difficult it’s going to be when they get to the next level,” France said of making the move. “Certainly, it makes it more exciting for our fans. Fans love elimination style and emphasis on wins. I think for the drivers, I think its important to get conditioned to what it’s going to take … to handle the next level.”

This format ensures that the Xfinity title won’t be decided until the season finale each year.