Accelerate the Fun
NASCAR Cup Series
In a historic shift for the sport, beginning in 2020 NASCAR’s premier series became known as the NASCAR Cup Series and featured four cornerstone brands as Premier Partners: Busch Beer, Coca-Cola®, GEICO and Xfinity. All four partners are prominently featured in multiple platforms across the sport, including integrations in broadcast, NASCAR digital and social channels, event entitlements, in-market promotions and at-track activations.
NASCAR enhanced the on-track product starting in 2017 with the introduction of stage racing, which ensures more highlight-reel moments during a race, increases the sense of urgency and emphasizes aggressive racing and strategy. The battle on track also extends to Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota – who have reached a level of parity that all but guarantees the fight for the manufacturer championship will come down to the very end of the season.
The Next Generation of Stock Cars
Looking to the future, NASCAR is developing the Next Gen car — expected to hit the track in 2022. The new car is going to feature a redesigned body and under-the-hood enhancements to make NASCAR stock cars even more like the cars in showrooms across America.
Youth is Rising
The future stars of NASCAR are taking over the spotlight today as drivers such as Kyle Larson, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, and Chase Elliott are challenging for – and winning – races throughout the season. They battle established superstars like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano, who continue to build their own legacies.
With international series in Mexico (NASCAR Mexico Series), Canada (NASCAR Pinty’s Series) and across Europe (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), as well as, Cup Series broadcasts available in 195 countries and 29 languages, NASCAR’s global reach is felt far and wide. Most recently, Daniel Suárez (Mexico) and Alon Day (Israel) joined the ranks of NASCAR Cup Series drivers who got their start in NASCAR’s international circuits.
The Dawn of eNASCAR
Building on more than 70 years of on-track success, NASCAR raced into the future with the launch of the eNASCAR in 2018. Aimed at fostering fan engagement and driver development, eNASCAR is uniquely positioned to drive the sport forward through the use of gaming and esports. The various initiatives under the eNASCAR umbrella will see drivers, teams and the industry come together like never before with the goal of creating a brighter and stronger future for the sport.
From Stock Cars To Sports Cars With IMSA
Exotic cars, international stars and premier road course and street circuits define the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the top level of sports car competition in North America. A total of 14 manufacturers and championship drivers from NASCAR, open-wheel and international sports car competition compete for the top step on the podium at prestigious endurance events such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Petit Le Mans.
What is NASCAR? How it started, grew to today
NASCAR sanctions and produces stock car racing, with drivers, sponsors and passionate fans from all over the world attending events in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
But NASCAR’s popularity and success didn’t happen overnight.
Early stock car racing and the birth of NASCAR
After World War II, stock car racing became one of America’s fastest-growing pastimes. Race tracks throughout the country became more popular than ever, hosting more drivers and races with each passing year.
But, for as entertaining as stock car racing was at the time, it lacked organization. For starters, tracks differed wildly — some facilities were purpose-built for racing, while others were temporary makeshift courses designed around events like county fairs. Rules varied by location. Drivers claimed some race promoters weren’t fair or honest. The experience — both for drivers and for spectators — wasn’t built for the long term.
If stock car racing were to continue to grow in popularity, something had to be done.
On Dec. 14, 1947, Bill France Sr. organized a meeting of drivers, officials and promoters at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, to discuss the future of stock car racing. The meeting covered the issues the burgeoning sport faced, and it ended with ambitious plans to create a sanctioning body for stock car racing — what became known as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or NASCAR for short.
Not long after, in February of 1948, the first NASCAR-sanctioned race took place at Daytona Beach and was won by stock car racing legend Red Byron. Less than a week later, NASCAR was formally incorporated. Things were, well, off to the races.
The NASCAR Cup Series and its expansion
It wasn’t until the next year — 1949 — when what is now the NASCAR Cup Series was born. Fans immediately loved watching what looked like ordinary street cars competing at high speeds. They wanted more: bigger tracks, faster cars, prestigious events. Names were made, heroes were born, and people couldn’t get enough.
The 2.5-mile, high-banked Daytona International Speedway — one of the largest in the world — was built just a few miles from the original beach course in NASCAR’s founding city. It was created to satiate the growing craving for fast cars and the very spectacle of racing; it was stock car racing’s home. The first Daytona 500 was held in 1959 and ended in an incredible photo finish, with Lee Petty eventually being declared the winner.
Paved, high-speed race tracks continued to be built throughout the country in the 1960s and 1970s. Racing icons rose in popularity. Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison became household names. Wendell Scott became the first African-American driver to win a premier series race in 1963 at Jacksonville Speedway. Race seasons stretched to upwards of 60 races per year in length. America still couldn’t get enough of NASCAR.
The modern era
After a successful foundation of sanctioned stock car racing, Bill France Sr. passed the torch to his son Bill Jr. ahead of the 1972 season.
Bill France Jr. continued in his father’s footsteps in leading NASCAR to new heights. The schedule was shortened to 31 races and a new points system was introduced. In February of 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in the Daytona 500.
In addition to hosting over a million spectators per year, appeal broadened even further thanks to television. The 1979 Daytona 500 was covered live from flag to flag, and famously ended in an explosive, unpredictable finish. Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison tangled on the final lap, crashing and making way for Richard Petty to win his sixth Daytona 500 — followed by a fight that erupted between Yarborough and the Allison brothers, Donnie and Bobby.
Stock car racing had become a mainstream sport.
By the mid 1980s, Fortune 500 companies were sponsoring NASCAR, race teams, and drivers. The next generation of racers — personalities like Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Bill Elliott — began to challenge the longtime mainstays, and representing well-known national brands along the way. In 1984, Richard Petty won his 200th premier series race at the Firecracker 400 on July 4 at Daytona International Speedway with President Ronald Reagan in attendance.
Fans had favorite drivers, those drivers had sponsors — and it turned out that those fans happened to be quite loyal to their drivers, and thus, their sponsors. The 1980s and 1990s marked a new era of major commercial success for NASCAR and its participants.
The sport continued to rise meteorically in the 1990s, including adding a stop to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the schedule, as well as new markets like New England, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth and Las Vegas. In 1994, Dale Earnhardt joined Richard Petty as the second driver in premier series history to earn seven championships.
Stars like Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett ushered in a new era of racers, going toe-to-toe against the Earnhardt and Elliott types.
An expanded race schedule and new television package in 2001 set NASCAR on a fast track again in the early 2000s. Viewership continued to rise and NASCAR’s profile continued to expand into the new century. Safety became a renewed focus. New brands and new fans flocked to the sport like never before.
The playoffs and continued growth
Starting in the 2004 season, NASCAR made a major shift into the future by implementing playoffs in the NASCAR Cup Series, a new and engaging way of determining NASCAR’s annual champion. Rather than a season-long grand total of points, the playoffs awarded performance throughout the final races of a season, ending the year with a crescendo.
Meanwhile, fans continued to embrace the NASCAR lifestyle. NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program was created to further attract a diverse audience to the sport.
Yet again, new faces — Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano — made their way to the mainstream, continuing the tradition of rubbing shoulders with established veterans at stock car racing’s top level.
In 2007, NASCAR developed and introduced a new style of car designed to improve safety and maximize benefits for teams. The 2000s also marked international expansion for NASCAR, adding series in Canada and Mexico, then in Europe in 2012.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame was opened in 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina, to honor drivers, crew chiefs, broadcasters, and other major contributors to the sport.
In 2013, Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole by earning the top starting spot in the Daytona 500.
In 2016, Johnson joined Earnhardt and Petty by earning his seventh premier series title.
And in 2018, Jim France took over the role of NASCAR Chairman and CEO. He learned about the sport through his own experiences and in a number of different roles for International Speedway Corporation, including president, as well as from his father Bill France Sr., and brother, Bill France Jr.
The Next Gen car and the next era of NASCAR
Continuing its tradition of innovation, NASCAR, in collaboration with drivers, teams, and manufacturers, built a new generation of car — the NASCAR Next Gen car — aimed to further reduce costs for teams and make racing more compelling than ever for fans.
NASCAR continues to expand its footprint to include esports series as a way to further entertain fans and develop the next generation of driver talent. The national and regional levels of the sport continue to thrive, and NASCAR now holds over 1,000 races per year throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
And NASCAR’s diversity and inclusion efforts continue to create an inclusive environment in all facets of the industry, from drivers, team owners, fans and beyond as the sport continues to race into the future.
How the NASCAR regular season works
Each of NASCAR’s three national series has a separate regular-season schedule. Throughout the season, they each race at a combination of superspeedways, intermediate tracks, short tracks and road courses. From Florida to California, these weekend events take place all over the United States, and sometimes in Canada.
Aside from scheduled non-points paying exhibitions, usually occurring for the Cup Series during Daytona Speedweeks and the mid-season All-Star Race, each series kicks off its regular-season slate in February at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR CUP SERIES REGULAR SEASON:
- Twenty-six total races (usually on Sundays)
- Begins in February with the Daytona 500
- Other “Crown Jewel” races scattered throughout the season
- Drivers compete in the All-Star Race halfway through the regular season
- The regular-season champion is crowned after 26 races and awarded 15 points
- The top 16 drivers advance to NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs
Here is how each regular season is broken down:
The Cup Series most often races on Sundays with 26 races on the regular-season schedule, beginning each year of competition with the iconic Daytona 500. Scattered throughout the schedule are prestigious “Crown Jewels,” which are races that have been historically significant to the sport. In addition to the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway receive this designation.
Every season, the Coca-Cola 600 (often referred to as the Coke 600) is the longest race on the schedule. The 600-mile marathon puts driver’s stamina and team performance to the test. Nearly every other oval race lands anywhere between 300 and 500 miles in length.Around midway through the schedule, Cup Series drivers compete in the All-Star Race for a chance to take home a $1 million check. In this exclusive showcase, drivers who have either won a race during the season or previous season, have previously won an All-Star Race or have a Cup Series championship qualify to compete. Drivers who do not meet these criteria can choose to compete in the All-Star Open and race their way in via heats or earn the Fan Vote.
During the regular season, drivers earn points for their performance in races and can make the NASCAR Playoffs with enough points or a win.
At the conclusion of the 26 races in the regular season, a regular-season champion is crowned and awarded 15 additional points for the playoffs. Sixteen drivers advance to the playoffs.
Usually at the track on Saturdays, the Xfinity Series also has a 26-race schedule for its regular season. The Xfinity Series races at many of the same tracks as the Cup Series, usually during the same weekend with a few exceptions each year. Sometimes, being at the same location allows Cup Series drivers to compete in select Xfinity events to gain track experience before their race on Sunday.
Cup drivers earning series points are not allowed to compete in certain events designated under the Dash 4 Cash midseason program, the regular-season finale or playoffs. Cup drivers with three or more years of full-time experience in the premier series are limited to competing in only five races during the first 25 on the Xfinity schedule. During the Dash 4 Cash races, Xfinity Series regulars compete for financial rewards in a four-race stretch.
Like the premier series, drivers earn points throughout each race for stage positions and overall finish, allowing them to compete for spots in the playoffs.
At the conclusion of the 26 races in the regular season, a regular-season champion is crowned and awarded 15 additional points for the playoffs. Twelve drivers advance to the playoffs.
Camping World Truck Series
The third national series is the Camping World Truck Series, which operates each season under a lighter schedule than the top two – a 15-race regular-season calendar with primarily Friday night features. However, dispersed throughout these events are performance bonuses and incentives, such as the Triple Truck Challenge. Like the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash, these challenges allow Truck Series regulars to compete for monetary incentives at various points throughout the season.
Cup and Xfinity drivers often compete in select Truck Series events during the season. However, Cup drivers earning points cannot compete in the Triple Truck Challenge races, the regular-season finale or playoffs. Cup drivers with three or more years of full-time experience in the premier series are limited to competing in only five races during the first 14 on the schedule.
Keeping up with the formatting trend, drivers are awarded points during the regular season for placement in stages and final finishing positions.
At the conclusion of the 15 races in the regular season, a regular-season champion is crowned and awarded 15 additional points for the playoffs. Ten drivers advance to the playoffs.
NASCAR Playoffs 101: What you need to know
Welcome to the NASCAR Playoffs! Read on to brush up on how the postseason works, and the key dates for all three national series.
HOW THE NASCAR PLAYOFFS ARE STRUCTURED
For all three NASCAR national series, there are a series of eliminations as the NASCAR Playoffs progress. This culminates in the series finales, where the Championship 4 drivers race “straight-up” for the title — the first to cross the line of the four championship-eligible drivers is crowned the champion. This year’s championship weekend is Nov. 4-6 at Phoenix Raceway for the third consecutive year.
How NASCAR drivers get to the playoffs
“Win and you’re in.” Championship-eligible drivers who won a race during the regular season, attempted to qualify for all regular-season races and met a minimum points position (NASCAR Cup Series: top 30; NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: top 20) qualify for the playoffs.
If there are fewer unique race winners than open spots in the playoffs, the remaining positions are filled based on regular-season points.
NASCAR Playoffs by series: Round-by-round
NASCAR Cup Series
- 16 drivers, four rounds
- Playoffs begin at Darlington Raceway (Sept. 4)
- Elimination races, where four drivers are eliminated from the playoffs: Bristol Motor Speedway (Sept. 17), Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
- 12 drivers, three rounds
- Playoffs begin at Texas Motor Speedway (Sept. 24)
- Elimination races, where four drivers are eliminated from the playoffs: Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 8) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 29)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- 10 drivers, three rounds
- Playoffs begin at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park (July 29)
- Elimination races: Kansas Speedway (Sept. 9; two drivers eliminated) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 22; four drivers eliminated)
How Does the NASCAR Point System Work
Throughout the NASCAR regular season, drivers in all three national series earn playoff points to be used in the postseason. The playoff points procedure is uniform across all three national series and continues in the playoffs for drivers who remain in contention.
How drivers earn playoff points
- Win Stage 1 or Stage 2 in a race: 1 playoff point (point awarded per stage win)
- Win a race: 5 playoff points
- Win the regular-season championship: 15 playoff points
Second place in the final regular-season standings earns 10 playoff points, third place receives eight points, and the points awarded decline to one point for 10th (fourth = seven points, fifth = six points, etc.).
Championship-contending drivers can accumulate additional playoff points throughout the playoffs via stage and race wins and may use all the playoff points they earn, from both the regular season and the playoffs, to advance all the way up to the Championship 4.
Playoff points are added to a championship-contending driver’s reset points total at the start of every round of the NASCAR Playoffs until they are eliminated from championship contention.
If a driver accumulates playoff points during the regular season but does not qualify for the playoffs, their playoff points are eliminated from the scoreboard.
At Phoenix Raceway, playoff points are off the table and the Championship 4 drivers enter the “winner-take-all” race on equal ground.
What the flags mean in NASCAR
Flags are among the most crucial elements of all NASCAR races. Here’s a quick guide to what each NASCAR flag you’re likely to see means:
- Green – start race or continue race under normal conditions
- Yellow – race under caution
- Red – race is halted
- Black – driver must leave track
- White – one lap remaining
- Checkered (Black and White) – race has ended
- Checkered (Green) – race stage has ended
- Blue with Yellow Diagonal Stripe – leaders approaching a lapped driver
- Blue – road courses, normal conditions but hard-to-see problems ahead
- Yellow and Red Striped – road courses, debris on track
- Red with Yellow Stripe – pits are closed
- Red and Black (2 flags) – end of practice or qualifying session
WHAT NASCAR RACE FLAGS MEAN
From the start of a race (green flag) to the finish (checkered flag), flags control the flow of every race. Cars and drivers on the track must adhere to each flag, lest they be waved off-track and disqualified (black flag with an ‘x’ stripe).
There are 15 different flags or flag combinations (two flags that are waved together at the same time). The flagman, who typically stands above the race track and at the start-finish line in what is informally referred to as the “crow’s nest,” is essentially the race controller and chief flag waver.
Here are brief descriptions of what each solo flag or flag combination means:
Has four primary purposes when it waves: during qualifying and practice sessions, indicates the start of a race, racing continues under full-speed conditions, and also when a race transitions from a yellow caution period/flag back to full-speed restart conditions. Perhaps the best way to keep this flag in mind: Green means GO!
Brings the race to a slowed pace and indicates a caution period on-track due to a crash or debris that would impede the race from continuing under full-speed conditions. When the flag waves, the pace car enters the track and controls the field behind it.
Means the race must immediately come to a halt. Cars must either stop where they are at on the track, or are brought to pit road due either to extensive on-track debris that must be cleaned up following a crash, or when weather forces racing to stop. Teams are prohibited from working on cars in the pits and garages under red-flag conditions. If and when a race resumes, conditions typically go from red flag to yellow flag (caution) and then back to green (go!).
Typically is directed toward a particular driver who NASCAR officials or scorers have determined has committed an on-track offense — or cannot maintain a consistent and competitive speed to continue racing — and must leave the racing surface and return to the pit area immediately. Also called a “consultation flag,” as the driver and his team will meet with a NASCAR official in the pits to determine what the infraction was and if there will be a resulting penalty.
BLACK FLAG WITH CROSSED WHITE LINES:
If a driver fails to follow the flagman’s instructions to immediately go to pit road within five laps, this flag is displayed to indicate the driver’s on-track progress is no longer being scored. Driver is also typically disqualified at this point.
Indicates there is just one lap remaining in the race. If a caution period occurs on the final lap while the white flag is displayed, the field is frozen and the event ends immediately.
CHECKERED FLAG (BLACK AND WHITE):
The race is over when this flag flies. Each car remaining on the track must cross the start-finish line and pass under the checkered flag to have its finishing position officially scored. The checkered flag is also used at the end of each driver’s qualifying attempt.
CHECKERED FLAG (GREEN):
Indicates that a race stage has concluded.
BLUE FLAG WITH YELLOW DIAGONAL STRIPE:
Is used to alert one or more cars that leaders or a pack of lead lap cars are approaching and to either move over or be courteous, particularly if they are likely to be passed shortly.
BLUE FLAG (solid blue, no stripe):
Used only on road courses to warn drivers of hard-to-see problems ahead of them, such as if a car has spun off the course but the race remains under green-flag conditions.
YELLOW AND RED STRIPED FLAG:
Yellow with vertical red stripes. Another flag used only on road courses to indicate debris on the track.
RED FLAG WITH YELLOW STRIPE:
Located at entrance to pit road, indicates pits are closed. Flag is withdrawn when all cars on-track line up behind the pace car under caution/yellow flag conditions, indicating pits are reopened.
RED AND BLACK FLAGS TOGETHER:
Flagman displays both flags simultaneously to indicate practice or qualifying session has concluded.
TWO CHECKERED FLAGS TOGETHER:
Indicates the race has reached its halfway point (optional usage by flagman).
GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FLAG SEQUENCE:
If a caution occurs in the final two laps of a race, NASCAR will continue the race under yellow flag conditions in the hopes of eventually returning to and finishing the race under green flag conditions. When the event returns to clear and raceable conditions, NASCAR will have a two-lap run to the finish, where the green flag will be displayed at the race restart, followed by the white flag with one lap remaining and the checkered flag then falls to signal the end of the race. If additional caution situations occur, NASCAR allows up to three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
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