NASCAR announced today changes to the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) points structure and race format, effective starting February 25th when the series kicks off the 2017 season at Daytona International Speedway (DIS).
Each race of the 33-race NXS schedule will consist of three segments, with championship implications in each stage. The top-10 finishers in each stage will be awarded additional championship points. The winner of the first two stages of each race will receive one playoff point, and the race winner will receive five playoff points. Each playoff point will be added to a driver's reset total following the 26th race, if that competitor makes the playoffs.
Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch, who finished seventh in the inaugural NXS playoffs in 2016, applauded NASCAR for implementing the changes Monday.
“I think the fans will really like the changes and it adds a different level of excitement for the drivers, too, going into a new season not necessarily knowing what to expect,” said Koch. “I think we will have a different strategy going into the races now and the goal will be to get as many bonus points as we can to carry over into the playoffs.”
All playoff points will reset after the eighth race of the playoffs, with the Championship 4 racing straight-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.
Championship points following the first two stages of each race will be awarded on a descending scale, with the stage winner receiving 10 points, second earning nine points, and so on. The race winner following the final stage will receive 40 points, second-place will earn 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on.
Additionally, the top-10 drivers in regular-season points will receive playoff points with second place earning 10 points, third place getting eight points, fourth place obtaining seven points, and so on.
Now more than ever, consistency will be key for drivers and teams as every segment of the race presents an opportunity to secure a seat in the playoffs. Kaulig Racing General Manager and Crew Chief Chris Rice adds that pit crews will also feel that pressure with pivotal pit stops coming during caution periods after each segment.
“Having solid pit stops is going to be so important with this new format since the field lines up for the start of the second segment based on where drivers come off pit road under caution,” said Rice. “Being able to strategize on the fly will be key. You have to be prepared for every scenario ahead of time and focus on getting those bonus points to carry you through the playoffs.”
NASCAR gave fans and competitors a taste of some of these changes in 2016 as the NXS ran four heat races in 2016. Koch and Kaulig Racing finished in the top 10 in each heat race and ultimately finished seventh in the Championship standings in their first year of NXS competition.
Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter® Gutter Protection team will return to action at DIS on Saturday, February 25th at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Kaulig Racing PR