Questions and answers about NASCAR’s announcement

7 Comments

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — OK everyone, let’s take a deep breath and we’ll get through this.

NASCAR announced enhancements to the race formats on Monday that are intended to give fans more exciting moments during a race and the season.

As with anything new, there are plenty of questions. Here are answers to those questions.

So what is it with these stages?

Each NASCAR race will be divided into three stages. Points will be awarded for the top 10 finishers in each of the first two stages. That descends one point per position. Thus, 10th place in a stage receives one point. The final stage marks the end of the race. The winner receives 40 points with second-place receiving 35 points, third gets 34 points … on the way down to 1 point for any driver that finishes 36th or worse.

When will these stages take place?

The first stage will take place approximately 25 percent into the full race distance. So, for a 400-lap race at Richmond, the first stage would end somewhere around Lap 100.

The second stage will take place about 25 percent later.

That will leave the last half of the race to be run to conclusion.

So what happens after the first stage?

Once the field completes the lap that marks the end of the first stage, the caution will come out. Pit road is then opened for any teams that wish to stop. Once the pit stops are complete, TV will go to commercial break so fans can see more green-flag racing. Once TV returns from break, the race will resume. NASCAR estimates the breaks should take about five minutes.

How do they align the field for the next stage?

The field lines up the way the cars come off pit road. If not every car pits, then they are at the front with cars that made pit stops behind them for the restart.

OK, so what about those caution laps after the segment ends? Do they count?

Yes. All laps count.

Anything else unique about the stages?

Yes, pit road will be closed for five laps before each of the first two stages end.

Wait, what if there’s a caution right before the end of a segment? Can a segment end under caution or will it be extended?

Segments can end under caution. The end of the race will still have the overtime policy.

What is NASCAR calling these stages?

Stage 1. Stage 2. Stage 3.

What about the Daytona 500?

The 500 will have segments. The top 10 finishers in each of the duel qualifying races will receive points just like a regular segment. One difference is that the segment winner will not receive a bonus point for the playoff (more on these a little further down).

So what is the maximum number of points a driver can earn in any race now?

A driver can earn as many as 60 points. That would be 20 points for the two stage wins (10 points each) and 40 points for the race win.

Wait a minute, you’re forgetting those points for leading a lap and leading the most laps, aren’t you?

No. There will no longer be bonus points for leading a lap or leading the most laps.

Isn’t there a way the race winner can score fewer points than the runner-up?

Yes. Consider if the race runner-up won both stages (20 points) and then had their 35 points for second. That would be 55 points. Say the race winner failed to score a point in either stage. Thus, they would have only 40 points (for the win) for the event. So, the runner-up could score 55 points and the winner 40 points.

What else was announced?

The regular-season points leader after the 26th race will be rewarded — something many fans had requested.

How will the regular-season champ be rewarded?

The regular-season winner will receive 15 bonus points that carry over to their total once the playoff field has its points reset to 2000.

Is that it?

No, the top 10 drivers leading into the playoffs will receive a bonus. The second-place driver in the standings after the regular season ends will earn 10 playoff points, third place will earn eight points, fourth place will get seven points and so on. All playoff points carry through to the end of the Round of 8.

OK, is that it?

No, NASCAR has made those bonus points more valuable. Follow me. Say a driver finishes with six wins in the regular season. They would earn 30 playoff bonus points (five wins for each win). Now, say, they won seven segments in the regular season, they would have seven bonus points (one playoff point for each segment win). And, let’s say they finished as the regular-season champ, earning 15 bonus points. That means they would have 52 bonus points (30 from wins plus seven from segments and 15 for regular-season crown).

The driver will continue to receive those bonus points in each round of the playoffs as long as he/she remained eligible for the title — plus any additional victory or segment points earned in that round.

Anything else I should be aware of?

Yes, NASCAR is now using the word “playoffs” to describe its run to the championship instead of Chase. As Dale Earnhardt Jr. joked: “I think that for all the folks that have been asking us to get rid of the Chase for years, this is a great day for them.’’

Are these changes for the Cup Series only?

No, they are for the Cup, Xfnity and Camping World Truck Series.

What were some things the drivers said about all of this?

Denny Hamlin: There are no off weeks. Every single race matters. Not only that, but every lap of every race matters. From our standpoint, you always felt a little bit relaxed once you got a race win, and you would sometimes maybe go into test mode or something. Now with each accomplishment that you have during each given race, whether you’re collecting points for the overall regular season or you’re trying to collect points through a stage win or a race win, each accomplishment gives your road to Homestead a little bit easier, gives you a little bit of cushion there to be able to get through the playoffs and make it to Homestead, and that’s what it’s all about for us is making it to Homestead and trying to race for a championship.’’

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “I love the fact that the bonus points or the playoff points will carry through the playoffs all the way to the last round. So everything you do throughout the season is really going to help you throughout the playoffs. That’s a great change.

Brad Keselowski: “Wait until you see it on the racetrack.When you see this on the racetrack, this is going to be the best racing you’ve ever seen.’’

 and on Facebook

Ryan Reed’s status for 2019 uncertain after sponsor leaves

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lilly Diabetes announced Monday that it will not return to Roush Fenway Racing after this season, ending five years with the organization and Ryan Reed, who said he was unsure of his plans for next year.

Lilly Diabetes issued a statement that read:

“For the past five years, we have been fortunate to have had a wonderful partnership with Ryan Reed and Roush Fenway Racing. Together, we have increased awareness among NASCAR fans about the importance of managing diabetes and have inspired people with diabetes to live the lives they want to live. Moving forward, we have decided to shift our focus to other initiatives that support the diabetes community and, therefore, our partnership with Roush Fenway Racing to sponsor Ryan will end at the conclusion of the 2018 NASCAR season.

“We are grateful to Ryan for his dedication to the diabetes community, and we admire all he has accomplished. We wish him all the success in the future as we turn from sponsor to fans. We also thank Jack Roush and the team at Roush Fenway Racing for their exceptional partnership. As the Official Diabetes Health Partner of NASCAR, we look forward to continuing our support of fans impacted by diabetes through our educational initiatives that raise awareness of the importance of diabetes management and overall good health.”

Reed, who was eliminated from the Xfinity playoffs at Dover, offered his thanks to Lilly Diabetes in a statement and said: “I am ready for the challenge of free agency and putting myself in the opportunity to do what I love, which is win races and be a champion for others that live with diabetes. (Seven)-and-a half years ago when I was diagnosed, I was told I would never drive race cars again. I defied that then and have no doubt will continue to defy that and compete in the sport I love.”

The 25-year-old Reed has two career Xfinity victories. Both came in the season-opening race in Daytona. He won there in 2015 and ’17.

Roush Fenway Racing also issued a statement Monday:

“We would like to thank Lilly Diabetes for a truly great partnership over the last five seasons. We consider the program a success, as we were able to win two races at Daytona, qualify annually for the playoffs, and educate the racing community on important health initiatives, while at the same time inspiring those living with diabetes to live their lives to the fullest.

“We wish Lilly Diabetes nothing but the best going forward, as they continue their effort to push this important message.”

Stewart-Haas Racing adds sponsor for Clint Bowyer for 2019

Photo: Stewart-Haas Racing
1 Comment

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday that it has signed a sponsorship deal that will see PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid be on Clint Bowyer‘s Cup car and the cars of the Haas F1 Team.

PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid will be the primary sponsor on Clint Bowyer’s car for three Cup races next year. The companies will be an associate sponsor on the other races.

In F1, the companies will expand their partnership in 2019 with their logos moving from the nose of the cars Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen drive to the rear-wing endplates, a more visible location.

“We get the best of both worlds with Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Bryan Emrich, Chief Marketing Officer, Old World Industries, in a statement. “The PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze and BlueDEF brands get global exposure and continued recognition domestically. The technology of Formula One and NASCAR help sell our products, as do the personalities we’ve aligned ourselves with. Clint Bowyer, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are genuine people who engage well with our customers. Racing is a relationship business, and we’re extremely proud of the relationships we’ve fostered with Haas F1 Team and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

 

NASCAR explains why no caution at end of Talladega Cup race

1 Comment

Kurt Busch criticized NASCAR for not throwing a caution on the last lap of overtime Sunday when there was a multi-car crash, but NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body made the right call in letting the race end the way it did.

Had NASCAR called a caution for the incident that included Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, it would have sent the race to another overtime at Talladega Superspeedway. A caution would have ended the race since the field had taken the white flag.

Also, the decision to let the race finish under green was in contrast to Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race that ended under caution after contact by the top two cars led to Noah Gragson crashing and collecting others.

O’Donnell was asked Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to explain those two calls.

“Two different races and every race is different,”  O’Donnell said. “Every call is a judgment call. The (incident) on Saturday was in front of the field, you saw a couple of wheels get off the ground, and any time you’re going to have more and more of the field driving into that caution, we felt the need in that case to throw the caution. We always want to try to end under green, but in that case we just felt like we couldn’t.

“Then on Sunday, very similar in terms of a car hitting the wall but where it happened was different and in terms of where the field was. The 32 car (DiBenedetto) then kept rolling, which is certainly a sign for us that we’re OK to keep going. The 9 car (Elliott) where it stopped (on the grass inside the turn) was right in front of our safety vehicles and had communication from the tower that that car was in good shape so we elected to not throw the caution and finish under green.

“You could say in this case that could have gone either way and could have. I talked to Matt (DiBenedetto) after the race and he was supportive of the call and understood. Our first job is to always make sure everybody is safe, and we felt we did that in this case. Certainly go back and review it as we do but stand by the call and thought it was the right one.”

Drivers in danger of being eliminated from Cup playoffs at Kansas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cup playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway is over and unless you were a driver for Stewart-Haas Racing, not much good happened to the 12 driver playoff field.

Aric Almirola won and joined Chase Elliott in the third round.

That leaves 10 drivers scrambling for the remaining six spots.

Outside the top eight, Kyle Larson (26 points behind cutoff) and specifically Alex Bowman (68) are in must-win scenarios as the bottom two drivers.

But who else is feeling the heat of maybe missing out on the next round after Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC)?

Clint Bowyer (21 points above cutoff spot)

Bowyer entered Talladega below the cutoff with Almirola and is in a better position after finishing second in both stages and the race.

He will look to make his spot in Round 3 permanent with a win in Kansas, which would be his first at his home track.

In his last three Kansas starts, Bowyer’s best finish was ninth in the spring 2017 race. He placed 19th and 15th in the next two.

“After the frustrating run at Dover, I had to gain some points,”  Bowyer said. “It didn’t do any good to get good stage points if the guys that I’m racing for this next round do it, as well.  I had to get separated some way, shape or form.

“I mean, that guy sitting in Victory Lane right there (Almirola), as happy as I am for him, that’s a spot that just went away for that next round.

“We have to go home, at Kansas take care of business.  I think we can do that.  We needed an opportunity here.”

Martin Truex Jr. (+18)

After a “miserable” run at Talladega ended in a 23rd-place finish, Truex is likely looking forward to a 1.5-mile track.

Truex owns the final transfer spot on the playoff grid entering Kansas – where he’s won two of the last three races and finished second in the spring.

“I think that’s a good place for us even if we had to win,” Truex said after Talladega. “I am not saying we’re going to go there and win. But anytime we can go to any of those tracks, I feel like we have a shot. It’s racing. A lot can happen as we saw today. We’ll give it everything we got and bring a great car to Kansas. We’ll try to get the checkered flag.”

Brad Keselowski (18 points below the cutoff spot)

The Team Penske driver and defending race winner saw his hopes of winning in Talladega vanish when he had to pit for fuel coming to the green flag in overtime. He finished 27th after he led 21 laps.

Keselowski is now on the outside looking into the top eight despite having won three of five races in September, including the playoff opener.

Keselowski has one top five in his last five Kansas starts (second in spring 2017). He’s placed 13th and 14th in the last two visits.

Ryan Blaney (-22)

After winning at the Charlotte Roval to advance to Round 2, Blaney’s playoff hopes are looking a bit dire.

Like Keselowski, Blaney also had to pit for fuel coming to the overtime restart.

As a result, Blaney has finishes of 11th (Dover) and 29th (Talladega) entering Kansas.

Like Truex, Blaney has some positive recent history at the 1.5-mile track.

He finished fourth and third there last year.

In May, Blaney led 54 laps before he was eliminated in an incident with Kyle Larson with 20 laps to go. He finished 37th.

Below is the playoff grid heading into Kansas.