Fantasy NASCAR: Plenty of NASCAR changes this year

Chase Elliott signs autographs and poses with fans in the garage area before Daytona 500 qualifying on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Are you ready for another Fantasy NASCAR season?

For the third year, The News-Dispatch will conduct its season-long contest in which our loyal fans of stock car racing get to pick five drivers for each race of the schedule and compete against other readers for the chance to win tickets to the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Are you ready for another NASCAR season?

If your answer was ‘yes’ then you might want to find a nuclear physicist or a Harvard professor, because the new point system will make your head explode … maybe literally.

Yes, that’s another subtle reference to the movie “Scanners” since it’s awesome, but I digress.

No. I take that back. I’m not digressing. NASCAR must not know its fan base because the new system is more complicated than the formula for relative velocity.

Get ready to have your mind blown.

First off, the word “Chase” is gone. The final 10 races of the season will now simply be called the “Playoffs.”

That’s the end of simplicity.

Every NASCAR race — Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series — will consist of three segments or “stages.” Drivers who finish in the top 10 of the first two segments will earn points while the finishing order at the completion of the third stage will be the final finishing order of the race. The third dtage winner is the overall winner and will receive 40 points.

Each regular season race is worth five bonus points to begin the playoffs. Winning a segment within a race is worth one Playoff bonus point.

The first stage of races will be the first 25 percent of the race and the second stage will be the second 25 percent. Each stage ends with a caution flag. Of course, the cautions will give the TV networks planned breaks to air as many commercials as possible. Show them the money.

Are you confused yet? Wait, there’s some more.

Segment winners get 10 points, second gets nine points, and down to 10th getting one point. After the 40 points for a race winner, second gets 35, third earns 34, down to 35th getting two points and 36th through 40th just getting one point.

Drivers in the top 10 in the standings at the end of the regular season receive bonus points. The driver leading the standings after 26 races gets 15 points, while others earn less incrementally and those points carry over to the Playoffs.

Has your head stopped spinning yet?

At least the format of the Chase … er … I mean the Playoffs, hasn’t changed. Sixteen drivers qualify with any race winner earning a spot and the rest filled based on points. Four drivers will be eliminated after three races, four more after the next three and four more to leave four drivers competing for the championship in the final race.

OK, you got all that? So with the points system changed, I guess we have to adjust the N-D Fantasy NASCAR points system, right? Not quite as complicated, though. We’ll use the points for the final segment of each race and not worry about first and second stages and all those points. This week's entry form is in the sports section and will run on Wednesday's this season.

Let’s hear it for the return of NASCAR.

Reach Sports Editor Steve T. Gorches at sgorches@thenewsdispatch or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.

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