In response to a dip in ratings for the 2016 season, NASCAR has decided to shake things up for 2017. A complete overhaul to the points system and breaking each race into three stages will make the sport look dramatically different.
With each race split into three stages, there are three opportunities to accrue points towards the season championship standings. This is to encourage drivers to be more aggressive throughout the race and lead to more exciting racing from start to finish.
At the end of stages one and two, the new point system awards the driver in first place 10 points, and each following driver receives one less point through the 10th place driver who receives one point. Winners of the first two stages also get a bonus point which can be carried over into NASCAR's playoffs at the end of the regular race season.
The third and final stage determines the official race winner and is scored in a similar fashion as past seasons with the winner receiving 40 points (Plus five bonus points and playoff eligibility) and second place receiving 35 and then points rewarded decrease by one until 36th through 40th place get one point.
There is an official regular season champion who will get 15 bonus points and the top 10 regular season finishers also get bonus points. After the regular season, NASCAR's postseason sees the qualifying drivers' points reset to 2,000 and any bonus points accrued during the season are carried over and added to the total.
Fox News best explains the playoffs and exhibition races,
"The playoffs will remain divided into three three-race rounds with four drivers eliminated after each round to set up four finalists for the season finale, where the four finalists will not be eligible to earn segment victories."
"The exhibition duels during Speedweeks at Daytona next month will now be worth 10 points to the two race winners."
The new system should make for more exciting racing start to finish while the breaks between race stages completely change strategy and give fans predictable breaks. The changes also put more importance on consistent regular season performance than in the past playoff years. While already one of the most popular racing series, NASCAR hopes the complicated new system ensures that it is the most exciting as well.