12 Team Chase

Russ Spence

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Watch the Daytona 500 on FOX, February 18 at 2 p.m. ET.

Blogjam: Changes to Chase
The Chase contenders for the Nextel Cup championship can now be called the Dirty Dozen since 12 drivers — not 10 — will be battling in a completely restructured postseason that will take a calculator for race fans to compute.

NASCAR unveiled its new formula for the Chase and announced that five additional bonus points will be awarded throughout the seasons for the race winners. The 2007 points system will award a driver 185 points for a win and a possible 195 points should a driver win the most laps (five points for leading and lap and an additional five points for leading the most laps).

"We wanted to make winning more important," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France.

NASCAR chairman on Chase change

Lee Spencer question: We went through this three years ago, and we came up with the Chase. It seemed very awkward and confusing. How do we get the message out to the fans so they understand it when it seems like it's going to take a little discussion for us all to get by?

Brian France answer: Hopefully we've made it more simple to understand. Four hundred points had never been an easy thing for everybody to tabulate as you go along and try to sort out. Now, it's 12. I think the wins in the first 26 go to your seeding. That's consistent with about every other sport. Wins in the NCAA basketball tournament, NBA, any sport, you'll see where wins typically have you seeded as you go into the postseason. So we think it's consistent. We think it's simplified vs. the old system, and we think it's the right way to go.

Following the first 26 races, the 12 drivers that now contend for the Chase will experience a different twist: All 12 drivers will have their points totals adjusted to 5,000 points entering the Chase plus an additional 10 points will be allocated to every driver in the postseason for every win earned during the first 26 races.

The standings will be based on those points entering Race 26 at New Hampshire. NASCAR has eliminated the 400-point margin between first in points and the field that would have allowed drivers outside the top 10 to compete in the Chase.

"I think it's easier with no 400-point formula," France added. "It simplifies (the Chase). ... We had the 400-point provision that didn't get used or activated."

Tiebreaks will be determined by second-place finishes, then third-place finishes, and so on.

France added that the Chase accomplished NASCAR's initial goal and "created more excitement," but the sanctioning body wanted to make sure "the balance was right" with the overall point system for winning the championship.

2006 Pre-Chase standings: Under new format
Pos. Driver Reset Points Wins Adjusted points
1. Kasey Kahne 5,000 5 5,050
2. Matt Kenseth 5,000 4 5,040
3. Jimmie Johnson 5,000 4 5,040
4. Kevin Harvick 5,000 3 5,030
5. Tony Stewart 5,000 2 5,020
6. Jeff Gordon 5,000 2 5,020
7. Denny Hamlin 5,000 2 5,020
8. Kyle Busch 5,000 1 5,010
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5,000 1 5,010
10. Greg Biffle 5,000 1 5,010
11. Mark Martin 5,000 0 5,000
12. Jeff Burton 5,000 0 5,000

"The Chase has been successful because it has done what it was designed to do — give more drivers an opportunity to win the championship," France said. "It has re-energized our sport. And now, a good thing is about to get better.

"In 2004 when we unveiled the Chase, we said we would keep a close eye on it, and make adjustments if needed. We have done that, and we feel like the sport — and the sport's fans — will benefit."

Dirty dozen: Don't change Chase
Larry McReynolds is all for giving more points to winners, but even Tony Stewart — who finished 11th last year — disagrees with increasing the Chase for the Nextel Cup field.
Diversity starts with hard work
NASCAR will have a breakthrough driver that brings diversity to the sport, but it will take hard work along with talent, says Jeff Hammond.

Although there had been discussion of awarding equal points to drivers 36th or lower in the race finishes to dissuade competitors who incurred damage to their cars during the course of the event the opportunity to park rather become a menace to other competitors on the track, NASCAR decided against that change.

"What's the magic number?" NASCAR president Mike Helton asked. "Would the races be safer by adding those points? I don't buy that."