On This Day in 2014 NASCAR Introduced the Current Playoff Format

Published 01/31/2024, 7:05 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

NASCAR, since its start in 1949 has undergone several changes. The game continued to evolve ever since and one of the major transitions has been seen in the format of the game. Introduced a decade ago on 30th, January 2014, the current playoff format is still in practice. We now have four drivers competing for the trophy at the Phoenix Raceway. This new format has hosted its final championship race in the low-banked tri-oval raceway in Arizona, since 2020. However, the road to this new introduction wasn’t easy.

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The change that altered NASCAR forever

Reminiscing about when the current format was formally introduced, Nascarman, a known entity in the stock racing online community, shared a throwback video from 2014, on X. The video featured the then Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, Brian France explaining the new rules of the game. Also known as the elimination format of the playoffs, it would have four stages known as the Round of 16, the Round of 12, the Round of 8, and the Championship 4. In the final stage, the Championship 4, the four drivers highest in the points standings preceding the final race would be given a level playing field to compete for the ultimate title.

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“We have arrived at a format where every race matters even more, diminishes point 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 France. “We have looked at a number of concepts for the last three years through fan research, models, and simulations, and also maintained extensive dialogue with our drivers, teams, and partners. 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,” the former chairman added.

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Needless to say, this new format went on to revolutionize the sport. But was it in a good way or a bad way? For that, we will have to look at what fans have to say!

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Fans react to the new format

While the management thought an elimination format would work best in the promotion, fans weren’t really happy. Without mincing any words, users littered the comments section with their own takes on the matter. One user wrote, “I hated it when they announced it, then two weeks later @DaleJr won Daytona and made the playoffs in week 1 so I thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened to the sport.”

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Another fan didn’t let displeasure go unnoticed as he wrote,”The absolute worst thing this sport has ever done”. A user even went into statistical data to prove how ill-received the announcement was a decade back. They wrote, “I remember the ESPN fan poll showing an 80% percent disapproval of this playoff format.”

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While fans have never really backed the new format, a decade long running in that very format speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Would you still like to see a change in how the top faction of NASCAR operates? Let ius know in the comments below!

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Written by:

Mamata Mukherjee

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Mamata Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Combining her love for writing and motorsports she has created some interesting and in-depth stories on drivers like Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Coming to ES with 3 years of experience in the field of writing, Mamata feels right at home in her role as a NASCAR Journalist.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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