NASCAR is constantly evolving and innovating and changing all of the rules and regulations. How can we expect to keep up with all the changes that happen every single season and the new rules packages? We are here to explain all of the details so you can enjoy the Daytona 500 and understand how everything works.
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How NASCAR Works
It took NASCAR many years to figure out the best way to run their races and season. They now incorporate stages, playoff points, a knockout championship format and overtime. We will go into detail on how they all work.
How Individual Races Work
There are three different series that NASCAR has, the Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. These are the stages that NASCAR now has and they have a points system to go along with it.
In most of the races there are three stages, the first two stages generally are about a quarter of its length and the final stage generally is the last half of the race. A certain amount of points are awarded to each driver depending on where they finish in each stage of the race. You can see how the stages are broken up for all of the different racing series here
At the end of each stage length, a caution flag is brought out to bring the race back together since the stage has just ended. It is NASCAR’s way to make sure that the end of the race is more exciting by making the last stage shorter and giving everyone a chance to compete for the title. Casual fans might be confused by this but now that you know you can easily explain it to them and show them why NASCAR does this. NASCAR has gotten a lot of flake for their stage system but for now, it does not look like they have any plans to change it.
The Points And Playoffs System In NASCAR
NASCAR’s system has been changed and tweaked so many times that it can be difficult for even the most seasoned NASCAR fans to keep up. We’re going to explain it so that anyone can walk away feeling like they have a good grasp on how to keep track of everything.
How many races in a season: The Cup series has 26 regular season races and 10 playoff races/ The Xfinity Series has 26 regular season races and seven in the playoffs. The Truck Series has 16 regular season races and seven playoff races.
Postseason Qualifiers: Any driver that wins a race automatically qualifies for the playoffs. After the winners of the regular season events, the top 8 Truck series drivers qualify, the top 12 Xfinity Series drivers qualify, and the top 16 Cup Series drivers qualify. There are four rounds in the Cup Series playoffs and three rounds in the other two series.
First playoff round: There are three races for each of the series and then the field is cut down again after this round. For the Cup series the field goes from 16 to 12, the Xfinity Series goes from 12 to eight, and the Truck Series goes from eight to six. The points are completely reset after this round.
Second playoff round: There are three races for each of the series again and then the field is cut down again after this round. For the Cup series the field goes from 12 to 8, the Xfinity Series goes from 8 to 6, and the Truck Series goes from 6 to 4. The points are completely reset after this round.
Third playoff round: There is only one more race for the Race Series and Xfinity series and the final drivers race for the season title in one final race at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the Cup series has three more races and after that, the number of drivers is cut down from 8 to 4.
Final Playoff Round: The final Cup Series race takes place at Homestead-Miami and they all race for the season championship and the winner of the race is crowned the season champion.
Individual Race Points
After each stage in a regular season and postseason race a driver is awarded a certain number of points based on where they finish and how prestigious the race is. For a race like the Daytona 500, the highest number of points would be awarded during that race. You can check out NASCAR’s website to get the full breakdown on each race’s points to get an understanding of which races are the most important.
There are many different flags in NASCAR and it can be confusing to new fans what flag means what. Let’s go over the basic flags so that you know what means what.
Green flag: This is the most obvious flag, this is the flag that starts or restarts the race.
Yellow flag: A yellow flag means that the officials have cautioned the drivers because either a stage has ended or there is some other danger to the drivers. When this happens the drivers must slow down and get behind a pace car until the green flag is waved again.
Red flag: This obviously means stop! There is imminent danger to the drivers and they cannot continue the race. Drivers must stop on the track — in a designated area — when they see the flagman wave a red flag. It means it isn’t safe for drivers to circle the track because of inclement weather or poor track conditions.
Black flag: This flag is waved at a specific driver, they must get off of the track because the driver did something illegal or the car is not fit to be on the track.
Blue flag with diagonal yellow stripe: This flag alerts a driver that a lead-lap cap is about to pass their car and they must yield to the car.
White flag: This classic flag lets everyone know that there is one lap left in the race.
Checkered flag: The most iconic flag! Everyone knows that this is the flag that is waving when the leader crosses the finish line and signals the end of the race.