Get on the Chase Grid; that’s the goal in tonight’s Federated Auto Parts 400.
NASCAR radically retooled its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with a win-and-you’re-in format over the first 26 races, culminating tonight in Richmond.
Under this new system, 16 drivers will make the Chase – the championship race within the season’s final 10 races – and, so far, 13 different drivers have victories. Points determine the remaining slots; Matt Kenseth already has clinched one of those spots.
Those 16 drivers will make up the inaugural “NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Grid.” Each starts with 2,000 points plus three bonus points for each win during the season’s first 26 races.
The remaining 10 races are divided into a trio of three-race rounds plus the finale. Each round cuts down the number of Chase contenders.
Up first is the Challenger Round: Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover. After Dover, the Grid field will be 12.
Then comes the Contender Round: Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega. Leaving Alabama, only eight drivers stay on the Grid.
The Eliminator Round – Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix – sets up the final four for the Nov. 16 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The highest finisher of that quartet wins the Sprint Cup championship.