2017 NASCAR Cup Series preview - new name, new rules, same excitement
The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season would be the 69th season of the premier American stock car championship. After nine years as the Sprint Cup Series, the competition has a new name, following a deal with the famous beverage company, so now it’s officially the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Three-stage race format and new points system
Aside from the new name, NASCAR introduced a new package of rules, featuring major changes to the format of races and the points system. All races will be divided into three stages, comprising a quarter distance for the first two segments, with the third stage being half distance. A competition caution will be held at the end of each stage, during which drivers may optionally take a pit stop before the restart for the next stage.
The top 10 drivers at the end of the first and second stages will receive championship points, from 10 to 1. The overall winner of each race (at the end of the final stage) will receive 40 points, the same that was in the previous seasons. The remaining drivers will be awarded points on a descending scale from 35 points (for a second-place finish) to 2 points (for 35th place) and 1 points (for 36th through 40th). The winner of each stage will also receive a “playoff point”, and the overall winner will receive five points.
For the first time since 1971, the Can-Am Duel qualifying races for the Daytona 500 will also become points-paying races, with top-ten finishers in each race receiving points.
‘Playoffs’ instead of the Chase
The competition which will follow the 26-race regular season is re-branded as the “Playoffs”, instead of The Chase for the Championship. The sixteen drivers with most wins will qualify for the Playoffs, with championship points used as a tiebreaker. The top 10 drivers in the championship points standings will be awarded additional playoff points.
For the drivers who will qualify for the Playoffs, their championship points will be reset to 2000, and their banked playoff points will be added to this total. The format for the Playoffs will remain similar to previous seasons, using a multi-round format. Playoff points will be carried over through all but the final race of the season.
The calendar is traditionally the same
Same as in the previous season, the calendar features 36 races plus exhibition races (The Clash, Can-Am Duel, All-Star Race), traditionally starting with Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway and ending with Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards retired
When looking teams, drivers, and cars, the biggest change is that we couldn’t see Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards any more among drivers. The three-time Cup Series Tony Stewart champion retired, being replaced by Clint Bowyer in the #14 Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ford. Yes, Ford, not Chevrolet, because the team switched from one to another American manufacturer.
Carl Edwards retired after a season in which he scored three wins and entered the Championship 4 round. He spent two seasons driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s #19 Toyota. The new driver in the #19 will be Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez.
Four rookies on the full-time grid
Erik Jones joined Furniture Row Racing, which expanded to two cars. He will drive the #77 Toyota Camry alongside Martin Truex Jr. in the #78 car. Ty Dillon will drive the #13 Germain Racing’s Chevrolet SS, becoming a rival to his brother Austin, who continues to drive #3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Gray Gaulding will drive the #23 Toyota and the #83 Toyota for BK Racing for 35 races, all except Daytona 500.
Jimmie Johnson’s 17th season in the #48 Chevrolet
The seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson continues to drive the #48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, for the 17th season in a row. After winning his seventh title, Johnson changed his nickname from ‘Six-time’ to ‘Mr. Se7en’. Is there will be another nickname change, we will see in November.
2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar
|February 23||Can-Am Duel||Daytona International Speedway|
|February 26||Daytona 500||Daytona International Speedway|
|March 5||Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway|
|March 12||Kobalt 400||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|
|March 19||Camping World 500||Phoenix International Raceway|
|March 26||Auto Club 400||Auto Club Speedway|
|April 2||STP 500||Martinsville Speedway|
|April 9||O'Reilly Auto Parts 500||Texas Motor Speedway|
|April 23||Food City 500||Bristol Motor Speedway|
|April 30||Toyota Owners 400||Richmond International Raceway|
|May 7||GEICO 500||Talladega Superspeedway|
|May 13||Go Bowling 400||Kansas Speedway|
|May 20||All-Star Race||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|May 28||Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|June 4||AAA 400 Drive for Autism||Dover International Speedway|
|June 11||Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway|
|June 18||FireKeepers Casino 400||Michigan International Speedway|
|June 25||Toyota/Save Mart 350||Sonoma Racewa<|
|July 1||Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway|
|July 8||Quaker State 400||Kentucky Speedway|
|July 16||New Hampshire 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway|
|July 23||Brickyard 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|July 30||Pennsylvania 400||Pocono Raceway|
|August 6||Watkins Glen 355||Watkins Glen International|
|August 13||Pure Michigan 400||Michigan International Speedway|
|August 19||Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race||Bristol Motor Speedway|
|September 3||Bojangles' Southern 500||Darlington Raceway|
|September 9||Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond International Raceway|
|September 17||Chicagoland 400||Chicagoland Speedway|
|September 24||New England 300||New Hampshire Motor Speedway|
|October 1||Dover 400||Dover International Speedway|
|October 7||Bank of America 500||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|October 15||Alabama 500||Talladega Superspeedway|
|October 22||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas Speedway|
|October 29||Goody's Fast Relief 500||Martinsville Speedway|
|November 5||AAA Texas 500||Texas Motor Speedway|
|November 12||Can-Am 500||Phoenix International Raceway|
|November 19||Ford EcoBoost 400||Homestead-Miami Speedway|
Photos: Getty Images/nascar.com,