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February 11, 2014

New Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series format coming to the Monster Mile this fall

16-driver Chase grid and First-to-the-Finish Finale highlight changes to the championship format

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will have a new look and feel to it this fall when the playoff format returns to Dover International Speedway for the Sept. 28, 2014 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, as the sport’s governing body made some radical changes this season.

In addition to expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, NASCAR has also implemented a new round-by-round advancement format in the 10-race playoff that ultimately will reward a worthy champion, while also placing much more emphasis on winning races moving forward.

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“We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race — all of which is exactly what fans want,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO.

“The new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be thrilling, easy to understand and help drive our sport’s competition to a whole new level.”

“This is a great move at the right time. More than ever, the focus in every race during the season will be on winning, and I can see this changing race strategy everywhere the teams go,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc.

“As for the 10-race Chase format, the changes will certainly be good for Dover in September, and the eliminations should create the same level of excitement we just witnessed in the recent NFL playoffs. The fans will love this.”

Changes to the championship format include:

  • A victory in the first 26 races all but guarantees a berth in the Chase, a change that will put an unprecedented importance on winning a race all season long
  • Expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, with those drivers advancing to what now will be known as the NASCAR Chase grid
  • The number of championship drivers in contention for the championship will decrease after every three Chase races, with 16 competing in the Challenger Round; 12 in the Contender Round; eight after the Eliminator Round, and four going for the title in the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Chase race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next Chase round
  • Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship race with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the title

The top 15 drivers with the most wins will automatically qualify for the Chase after the first 26 races of the season, provided they finish in the top 30 in points and attempt to qualify for every race. The 16th and final spot will go to the overall points leader after race no. 26 if he/she does not have a victory. In the event that there are 16 or more different winners over 26 races, the only winless driver who can earn a Chase spot would be the points leader after 26 races.

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If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the first 26 races, the remaining Chase positions will go to those winless drivers highest in points. If there are 16 or more winners in the first 26 races, the ties will first be broken by number of wins, followed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points.

As in the past, the start of the Chase will see all eligible drivers have their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the final 26 races.

Every three races in the Chase, four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention based on a few factors. And since the Monster Mile serves as the third and final race in the Challenger Round, the first leg of the new playoff format, a collection of drivers will be fighting for their championship lives on the one-mile, concrete oval.

The elimination format breaks down as follows:

  • Challenger Round
    • Races 27-29 [Chicagoland Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway]
    • If a driver in the Chase wins a Challenger Round race, that driver automatically advances to the next round
    • The remaining available positions that have not been filled based upon wins will be based upon points
    • All advancing drivers will have their points reset to 3,000
  • Contender Round
    • Races 30-32 [Kansas Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway]
    • If one of the remaining 12 drivers wins a Contender Round race, that driver automatically advances to the next round
    • The remaining available positions that have not been filled based upon wins will be based upon points
    • All advancing drivers will have their points reset to 4,000
  • Eliminator Round
    • Races 33-35 [Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway]
    • If one of the remaining eight drivers wins an Eliminator Round race, that driver automatically advances to the next round
    • The remaining available positions that have not been filled based upon wins will be based upon points
    • All advancing drivers will have their points reset to 5,000

With each of the four remaining drivers that enter Homestead-Miami Speedway sitting on 5,000 points, it’s truly a “First-to-the-Finish-Line” format for the season finale, as the highest finisher among the four contending drivers will take home the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy.

Bonus points for laps led will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.

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Fans can see this new championship format in action when the Chase returns to the Monster Mile on Sept. 26-28, 2014, including the Sept. 28 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Sept. 27 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the Sept. 26 “Drive Sober 150” presented by the Delaware Office of Highways Safety NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race.

For tickets or more information, call 800-441-RACE or click here. You can also keep up with the Monster Mile at Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway or on Twitter at @MonsterMile.

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Dover Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE: DVD) is a leading promoter of NASCAR sanctioned motorsports events whose subsidiaries own and operate Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. and Nashville Superspeedway near Nashville, Tenn. The company also hosts the annual Firefly Music Festival on its property each summer. Produced by Chicago-based Red Frog Events, the four day event features more than 100 bands on seven stages in The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway. For further information, log on to www.dovermotorsports.com.