2017 NASCAR Cup Series preview - new name, new rules, same excitement


February 22, 2017
Featured, News
Ian McLeigh


  • 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
  • 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
  • 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

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.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series introduces new race format and new points system

‘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.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Monster Girls, Daytona

Monster Girls at Daytona International Speedway

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.

All races are the same as in 2016, season, with some minor date changes and swapped dates between the events. Here’s the entry list for the season-opening Daytona 500.

Daytona Speedweeks traditionally opens the NASCAR season

Daytona Speedweeks traditionally opens the NASCAR season

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.

Daniel Suarez - the 2016 Xfinity Series champion in now the 2017 Cup Series rookie

Daniel Suarez – the 2016 Xfinity Series champion in now the 2017 Cup Series rookie

Four rookies on the full-time grid

Daniel Suarez is one of four rookies announced that will compete for the full season in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series. The other three are Erik Jones, Ty Dillon and Gray Gaulding.

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, 2017 Clash at Daytona

The seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson

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.

Until then, Johnson will have to fight against more than thirty full-time rivals, with five former champions among them (Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth).

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar

DateRace titleTrack
February 23Can-Am DuelDaytona International Speedway
February 26Daytona 500Daytona International Speedway
March 5Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 12Kobalt 400Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 19Camping World 500Phoenix International Raceway
March 26Auto Club 400Auto Club Speedway
April 2STP 500Martinsville Speedway
April 9O'Reilly Auto Parts 500Texas Motor Speedway
April 23Food City 500Bristol Motor Speedway
April 30Toyota Owners 400Richmond International Raceway
May 7GEICO 500Talladega Superspeedway
May 13Go Bowling 400Kansas Speedway
May 20All-Star RaceCharlotte Motor Speedway
May 28Coca-Cola 600Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 4AAA 400 Drive for AutismDover International Speedway
June 11Pocono 400Pocono Raceway
June 18FireKeepers Casino 400Michigan International Speedway
June 25Toyota/Save Mart 350Sonoma Racewa<
July 1Coke Zero 400Daytona International Speedway
July 8Quaker State 400Kentucky Speedway
July 16New Hampshire 301New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 23Brickyard 400Indianapolis Motor Speedway
July 30Pennsylvania 400Pocono Raceway
August 6Watkins Glen 355Watkins Glen International
August 13Pure Michigan 400Michigan International Speedway
August 19Bass Pro Shops NRA Night RaceBristol Motor Speedway
September 3Bojangles' Southern 500Darlington Raceway
September 9Federated Auto Parts 400Richmond International Raceway
September 17Chicagoland 400Chicagoland Speedway
September 24New England 300New Hampshire Motor Speedway
October 1Dover 400Dover International Speedway
October 7Bank of America 500Charlotte Motor Speedway
October 15Alabama 500Talladega Superspeedway
October 22Hollywood Casino 400Kansas Speedway
October 29Goody's Fast Relief 500Martinsville Speedway
November 5AAA Texas 500Texas Motor Speedway
November 12Can-Am 500Phoenix International Raceway
November 19Ford EcoBoost 400Homestead-Miami Speedway

Photos: Getty Images/nascar.com,

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