NASCAR is one of the most popular and exciting motorsports in the world, with millions of fans watching the thrilling races every year. But how do NASCAR drivers earn points and compete for the championship? In this article, we will explain how NASCAR points work, from the regular season to the playoffs to the final race.
How Points Are Awarded in the Regular Season
In each NASCAR Cup Series race in the regular season, drivers earn points based on their finishing positions and their performance in each stage of the race. The regular season consists of 26 races, divided into three stages each.
The basic points system for finishing positions is as follows:
- The race winner receives 40 points
- The second-place finisher receives 35 points
- The third-place finisher receives 34 points
- And so on, until the 36th to 40th-place finishers, who each receive one point
These points determine the driver standings and the owner standings, which are important for qualifying for the playoffs and securing a charter for future seasons.
In addition to these points, drivers can also earn stage points for placing in the top 10 at the end of each stage. The stage points system is as follows:
- The stage winner receives 10 points
- The second-place finisher receives nine points
- The third-place finisher receives eight points
- And so on, until the 10th-place finisher, who receives one point
After each race, the drivers add these stage points to their totals, and they can improve their rankings significantly.
Finally, drivers can also earn playoff points for winning races and stages. The playoff points system is as follows:
- The race winner receives five playoff points
- The stage winner receives one playoff point
The drivers do not add these playoff points to their totals during the regular season, but they carry them over to the playoffs and they can help them advance to the next round.
How Points Are Reset and Carried Over in the Playoffs
After 26 races, 16 drivers qualify for the playoffs, which consist of 10 races divided into four rounds. The criteria for qualifying for the playoffs are as follows:
- The regular season champion (the driver with the most points after 26 races) automatically qualifies
- The race winners during the regular season automatically qualify
- The remaining spots are filled by drivers with the most points who have not won a race
At the start of each round of the playoffs, except for the final round, the drivers’ points are reset and adjusted according to their performance in the previous round. The reset and adjustment system is as follows:
- At the start of the Round of 16, all drivers have their points reset to 2,000, plus their playoff points earned during the regular season
- At the start of the Round of 12, all drivers have their points reset to 3,000, plus their playoff points earned during both regular season and Round of 16
- At the start of Round of 8, all drivers have their points reset to 4,000, plus their playoff points earned during regular season, Round of 16 and Round of 12
Four drivers lose their chance to compete based on their total number of points at the end of each round of playoffs, except for the final round.
The remaining drivers advance to next round until only four drivers remain for final round.
The playoff points that drivers earn during playoffs are added to their totals at start of each round. These playoff points can help drivers secure their spot in next round or overcome a bad race.
How Points Determine the Champion in the Final Race
Four drivers survive the three rounds of playoffs and reach the final round, which is the season’s last race. The following criteria determine the final four drivers:
In this article, we have explained how NASCAR points work, from the regular season to the playoffs to the final race. Drivers earn points for finishing positions, stages, and race wins, and these points affect their standings and chances of advancing to the next round. In each round of playoffs, the drivers reset and carry over their points, and the final race awards no points, where the champion is the one who finishes highest among the final four drivers.
Some examples of drivers who have benefited or suffered from this points system are:
- Kevin Harvick, who won nine races in 2020, but failed to make it to the final four after a poor performance in the Round of 8
- Chase Elliott, who won four races in 2020, including the last two races of the season, and became the champion by finishing first in the final race
- Kyle Busch, who won only one race in 2020, but made it to the Round of 8 by earning consistent points throughout the season
- Matt DiBenedetto, who did not win any race in 2020, but qualified for the playoffs by finishing 12th in points during the regular season
We hope you have enjoyed this article and learned something new about NASCAR. If you are a fan of NASCAR or want to become one, we encourage you to follow the races and enjoy the competition.