The NASCAR Playoff Format has been debated since its implementation for the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series Season. When stage racing and the addition of stage points were added during the 2016 season, it further complicated the format, making it difficult to follow for some.
This very topic led Reddit user Robmerril92 to post his displeasure with the current format being used, citing declining TV ratings as his main line of defense.
This leads us at the Daily Downforce to beg the question: Is the current playoff format with all the bells and whistles of stage racing too confusing and off putting for any new NASCAR fans?
For Reddit user, MeatyOaker269, that seems to be the case, although he still enjoys watching the races. So, obviously, that hasn’t killed off his interest. But is he rule or the exception?
A helpful Reddit user in ImJJboomconfetti chimed in to ask for specifics so he could help.
After a post of MeatyOaker269 explaining that he didn’t dive too far into it (and mentioning that he did not understand how a team can get thousands of points by seasosn’s end), IMJJboomconfetti came back with this absolutely insane and in-depth explanation of how the NASCAR Cup Series points format works:
Here’s a breakdown: For stages, positions 1-10 are rewarded points by stage end. 1st place gets 10 points, 2nd gets 9, 3rd gets 8, so on and so forth. Positions 11-40 do not receive points at the end of the stages. At the end of the race, ALL drivers receive points.
The race winner gets 40, 2nd gets 39, 3rd gets 38, and on down the line until the 40th (or last) place finisher gets 1 point. That would make a maximum points day worth 60 points in total. That’s it in terms of regular season points.
For the playoffs, 16 teams make it. Winners get automatic bids in theory. For the 2022 season, there were more than 16 different winners so the lowest finishers with only 1 win were the first to be eliminated from the 16-driver field.
Generally speaking, though, it’s rare for there to be more than 16 winners in a season, especially as some of the heavier hitting teams get a firmer grasp on the NextGen Car. Once the playoffs begin, the top-16 drivers are reset to 2,000 points. After the points reset, any “playoff points” the drivers had accumulated during the regular season are added in. For every stage a driver wins during the regular season, they are awarded 1 point. Every win is worth 5.
The regular season points champion (aka the driver that finishes 1st in points prior to the regular season) gets 15 points. The driver who came in 2nd in regular season points gets 10 points, 3rd gets 8, 4th gets 7, 5th gets 6, and so on. The 10th place finisher in the regular season standings gets 1 point. Following the Round of 16, the points reset to 3,000 and playoff points earned in that opening stage are applied, same as before. Four drivers are eliminated.
After the Round of 12, four more drivers are eliminated and the points reset to 4,000. Rinse and repeat. In the final race of the year, the points are reset to and even 5,000 for the final four drivers. Highest finisher in the race in your champion.
Is that a little convoluted and confusing? Yeah, maybe a little bit. Reddit user, SilentSpades24 commented the following in agreement with the original poster.
But does this ruin the overall enjoyment of watching NASCAR racing? MeatyOaker stated above that he still enjoys the racing, despite the points/playoff format being a little overwhelming.
So, does it really matter if the points are confusing to new fans of NASCAR if the racing is still enjoyable? I don’t know, that seems to be up for debate. MeatyOaker seems to not mind it all that much, speaking as a newer fan himself.
What do you think, Daily Downforce community? Is the playoff points format too complicated? Should we revert back to an earlier form of the playoffs or, for Iceberg’s sake, a full-season layout? Does it even matter?