NEWTON, IA - JULY 28: William Byron, driver of the #9 Liberty University Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series US Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol at Iowa Speedway on July 28, 2017 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

NASCAR tweaks rules that will change the game for young drivers

The candidates vying for NASCAR's Rookie of the Year will have to work a bit harder in 2018 to win the award.

NASCAR announced it is changing the format for how it decides who wins the award. The new format will mirror how the champion is crowned in the series, and it will be based off of stage points, playoff points, and wins. Whichever rookie has the most points at the end of the season will be awarded the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

A win will give the driver 40 points and five playoff points. Second place gives 35 points, while third place gives 34 points. A stage win is worth 10 points and one playoff point.

The format will be the same in the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series.

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Jim Cassidy, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations, said the new format will help fans follow the rookies in their quest to win the award.

"The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense," Cassidy said via Motor Racing Network. "Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before."

Among the candidates for Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series are William Byron, Bubba Wallace and Ray Black Jr.

The new format should help fans keep up with which driver is in the lead for the award. Erik Jones was the 2017 Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series.