The 2016 NASCAR Media Tour kicked off this afternoon from Charlotte, North Carolina, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where CEO and Chairman Brian France made an announcement that will impact the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series for 2016.
France announced that the playoff format that has been in existence for the past two seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) will be moving into the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series starting in the 2016 season, with a little twist on both.
Differing from the Cup Series’ 10 race playoff, the Xfinity Series (NXS) playoff will consist of seven races (three rounds), beginning at Kentucky Speedway on September 24. The NXS playoffs will consist of two elimination rounds, twelve drivers and host a championship four, just like the NSCS, at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale.
A driver who wins a race or has two or more Dash for Cash wins will be all but guaranteed a spot in the Chase, provided the driver is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race in 2016. Any remaining spots in the 12-driver field will be based on points, and if a driver wins a race in the regular season, they are also all but guaranteed to get a spot for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) is more of the same, as their playoff system will consist of seven races (three rounds) beginning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 24, hold eight drivers (elimination will go from eight to six to four, with the championship four being at Homestead-Miami Speedway).
Another addition is that Sprint Cup regular drivers that qualified for the 2015 Sprint Cup Chase will not be allowed to race in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series’ finales at Homestead in 2016, virtually eliminating the prospect of a Cup regular winning and spoiling the season finale for those respective series.
“The culture we want in this sport is to go out and win the race,” said Vice President Steve O’Donnell. The example he used was when 2015 NCWTS champion Erik Jones finished 15th in the season finale to “just take care of the truck”, rather than going out and winning the race, like the NSCS has done in the past two seasons.
Another announcement that Steve O’Donnell shared with the media was that the Truck Series will experiment with something called a “caution clock” for every race this season. This “caution clock” will be for 20 minutes and start when the green flag drops. Within those 20 minutes, if a caution isn’t displayed, when the timer ends, the caution will come out. This clock will reset and run throughout the duration of the race, for every race this season, for only the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“It adds to the strategy,” O’Donnell said. The teams will have to decide whether or not they will take four tires, two tires or none when they decide to hit pit road, or not hit pit road. In a way, this creates mini heat races within the race itself for the NCWTS, and to say this will be an experiment would be an understatement.
More will come on these two stories as the information is released and as the CMS Media Tour continues throughout the week.