NASCAR has announced a change in race format for the 2020 season. Stage racing will have a bit of a different look this year, as NASCAR will work to make each of the three stages more even in length.
For example, instead of a 50-50-100 format for a 200 lap race, stages will look more like a 65-65-70 format this season. In fact, that’s the exact format of this year’s Daytona 500, NASCAR confirmed today.
The idea behind the change is to create more of a sense of urgency in the final run, which has featured multiple green flag stops in the past.
NASCAR also discussed the possibility of adding a fourth stage to races, as they’ve done at the Coca-Cola 600 since stage racing began.
There also was serious discussion of adding a fourth stage, but #nascar has tabled that dialogue until after the NextGen car rollout next season.
— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) January 28, 2020
Stage racing was introduced to open the 2017 season. It was created to force drivers to race hard for the duration of the race, awarding points to the top ten finishers of stage one and two before the final run to the finish. It has created a new way to “points race,” as we saw Chad Knaus and William Byron take advantage of in 2019.
The rule change here will likely cut into the need to pit multiple times during the final stage of the race, seemingly taking a little strategy out of the picture. Setting yourself up with track position to begin stage three will be as important as it ever has been this season.
Update: NASCAR released the stage lengths for a handful of other races this year.
Change of stage lengths for select Cup races this year … pic.twitter.com/KofZIY2DUr
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) January 28, 2020