NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

NASCAR announced Thursday (Jan. 30) that it will make some extensive changes to its split-season playoff format, expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers and putting a greater emphasis on winning races.

According to ESPN.com, any driver who wins a race will be all but guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, as long as they finish in the top 30 of points and compete in every race.

The Chase will also(for the first time) feature a series of eliminations. Points will be reset and four drivers dropped from championship contention after the third, sixth and ninth of the 10 Chase races. Then, a winner-take-all, Final Four-like championship battle will determine the champ at the final race of the season — the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16.

NASCAR believes the format changes will emphasize winning and make identifying a season champion easier to understand.

“NASCAR’s core responsibility is to look down the road and provide fans with the highest level of competition in the world,” Brian France, the sport’s CEO, said. “We now have a system that makes every race matter more, it will promote compelling competition for wins all season long, and ultimately it will reward a very worthy champion at the end of each season with a best-of-the-best, winner-take all showdown.”

Disclaimer: This post has been submitted to a NASCAR sponsored program.