Hooters to sponsor Chase Elliott beginning in 2017
CONCORD, N.C. -- Hooters has joined 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of driver Chase Elliott and the No. 24 Chevrolet SS team beginning in 2017. A casual dining establishment with a deep history in NASCAR, Hooters will be a two-race primary sponsor and full-season associate sponsor of the No. 24 team in both 2017 and 2018. The Hooters Chevrolet SS will debut May 7 at Talladega Superspeedway and appear again during the Chase for the NASCAR Cup Nov. 12 at Phoenix International Raceway . Hooters has been a primary sponsor in more than 150 Cup-level races, notably as the full-season sponsor of 1992 premier series champion Alan Kulwicki. That year, Kulwicki won two races and narrowly edged Elliott’s father, 1989 Cup champion Bill Elliott , by 10 points to win the title. “Twenty-five years after being part of one of the most memorable seasons in NASCAR history, Hooters is excited to support another amazing talent in Chase Elliott and the No. 24 team,” said Carl Sweat, chief marketing officer of Hooters of America LLC. “As the official headquarters of race day, we’re proud that so many NASCAR fans choose to watch the races at Hooters every week while enjoying their favorite wings, ice cold beer and one-of-a-kind Hooters Girl hospitality.” As part of the new relationship, Hooters has launched a full year of promotions, exclusive content and commemorative merchandise for fans at www.hooters.com . Beginning today, fans can register for the chance to win a trip for two to meet Elliott and cheer on the No. 24 team from pit road at the Nov. 12 Phoenix race. Everyone who registers will receive a $5 off certificate toward their next visit to Hooters. For a limited time, the first fans to register can also purchase collectible limited-edition $24 Hooters gift cards commemorating Elliott and the new No. 24 Hooters Chevy. "Hooters started with six people in 1983, and now they’re in 42 states and 28 countries," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports . "They've grown by focusing on the experience, earning the business of their customers and supporting terrific causes like cancer research and our men and women in uniform. NASCAR fans appreciate those things, and we have an opportunity to do some great work together." In 2016, Elliott earned Cup Series rookie of the year honors after posting 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and two pole positions, including the season-opening Daytona 500 . He is a second-generation NASCAR champion, having won the 2014 XFINITY Series title at just 18 years old. Now 21, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has already earned six wins, 47 top-fives and 84 top-10s in NASCAR national series competition. "Hooters is a place where I can let down my guard and have a good time," Elliott said. "It means a lot to have them support the No. 24 team, and I can't wait to get behind the wheel of their car. Being on the ground level of introducing a new partner to the Hendrick Motorsports family is going to be a lot of fun. Hooters has a historic place in this sport, and I'm glad they're back. Our entire team is looking forward to making the program a success." Fans are encouraged to use the #Hooters24 hashtag throughout the year to share their excitement and engage via social media.
Lady Antebellum to perform Daytona 500 pre-race show
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2017) -- The multi-platinum trio Lady Antebellum will perform the pre-race-show prior to the start of the 59th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 (FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM Radio), the opening race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Honing in on the melodious foundation that first brought Lady Antebellum together, the group returns to radio airwaves with "You Look Good ," while concurrently announcing it as the debut single off their sixth studio album Heart Break (Capitol Nashville), to be released June 9. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood simultaneously share plans to return to the road , with more than 65 shows planned in six countries on their You Look Good World Tour, presented by NABISCO. With more than 18 million units sold, seven-time GRAMMY award winning group Lady Antebellum has earned nine No. 1 hits and countless other awards including Billboard Music Awards, People's Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards, while also taking home ACM and CMA "Vocal Group of the Year" trophies three years in a row. For more information about new music and upcoming tour dates, visit www.ladyantebellum.com . This year's Daytona 500 will be Lady Antebellum's third appearance at Daytona International Speedway . The group performed the 2008 pre-race concert for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola and most recently at last year’s inaugural Country 500 Music Festival. " 'The Great American Race' will have one of today's great American country music acts front-and-center for our fans to enjoy," said Speedway President Chip Wile. "Lady Antebellum continues a long-standing DIS tradition of attracting major stars from the world of entertainment to the 'World Center of Racing' and the Daytona 500 ." All race fans who purchase UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access for the Daytona 500 will be able to view Lady Antebellum's Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show, as well as driver introductions, from the grass tri-oval area. A limited number of Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show ticket packages, available starting at $239, have been designed around Lady Antebellum and include a Daytona 500 ticket, UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access and VIP area access to the performance. Race fans who have already purchased Daytona 500 tickets can add UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access and VIP area access for $114. All VIP ticket packages are on sale now. Those wishing to attend the 59th annual Daytona 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will need to act quickly. Fans should also note: - Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.DAYTONA500.com . - Hospitality and premium seat packages, including the Trioval Club, the Rolex 24 Lounge and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race are also available. - For all other Speedweeks events, children 12 and under are $10 in reserved grandstands and free in general admission areas and in the UNOH Fanzone. - Fans can also visit PrimeSport.com, the new official ticket exchange and travel package provider of Daytona International Speedway . Offering multiple options for tickets, lodging and hospitality, https://www.primesport.com/d/daytona-500-tickets is ideal for fans looking for the ultimate racing experience.
FAQ for NASCAR's 2017 race format enhancements
RELATED: Full coverage of announcement " Official NASCAR press release NASCAR's race enhancements announced Monday detailed how and why races will be run in stages in 2017. Below are answers to some of the potential questions. How many stages are in a race? Three -- Stage 1, Stage 2 and the Final Stage. Stage 1 and Stage 2 will reward drivers who are leading, or in the top 10, at the conclusion of each stage. The Final Stage will determine the race winner. What is Stage 1? The green flag begins the race, and therefore Stage 1. Its length is approximately 25-30 percent of the event's total length -- it is different for each race, dependent on track size and race length -- with the ending marked via a stage checkered flag (the stage can end under caution, if necessary). Who benefits most? Drivers who are running first through 10th at the conclusion of Stage 1 will receive stage bonus points, starting with 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, down to one point for 10th place. Additionally, the driver who finishes Stage 1 first will receive one playoff point to carry into the postseason, should that driver qualify. Those can add up quickly over the course of a season. What about Stage 2? At the conclusion of Stage 1, there is a caution period for drivers to come down pit road (innovative strategies will be crucial under these enhancements.) Stage 2 will then begin with a drop of the green flag for the restart. Its length is approximately 25-30 percent of the event's total length -- it is different for each race, dependent on track size and race length -- with the ending marked via a stage checkered flag (the stage can end under caution, if necessary). What about Stage 2 bonus points? Same as Stage 1: Drivers who are running first through 10th at the conclusion of Stage 2 will receive stage bonus points, starting with 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, down to one point for 10th place. Additionally, the driver who finishes Stage 2 first will receive one playoff point to carry into the postseason. What about the final stage? Following another caution period, which gives fans another natural break in the action, the final stage begins with another green flag drop and restart. Drivers then race for the event win ... and the five bonus points that come with it. How are points distributed? The final stage produces the race results, so the end of the final stage is the end of the race. Whoever crosses the start/finish line first at the checkered flag is the race winner. Race points are then awarded to the entire field based on finishing order. The winner receives 40 points. Second place receives 35 points, third place receives 34 points, fourth place receives 33 points ... down to one point for drivers who finish 36th-40th. There no longer will be a bonus point for leading a lap, or a bonus point for leading the most laps. And the winner? The race winner receives five bonus points toward the postseason (this is up from three last year under the new enhancements), plus postseason eligibility. If a driver leads at the end of both Stage 1 and Stage 2, and then wins the race, then he or she would receive seven bonus points to carry into the postseason. For which series were these enhancements designed? The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will all use this enhanced format. By rewarding hard racing through the duration of the season, will there be an official regular-season champion? Yes, there formally will be a regular-season champion. That driver will earn 15 additional playoff points to carry into the postseason. Any more bonus points for points standings at the end of the regular season? Yes. In addition to the regular-season champion, drivers who finish in the top 10 of the regular season all receive some measure of playoff points to take into the postseason. Here's the breakdown: First place in regular season points earns a driver 15 playoff bonus points in addition to the points earned with race or stage wins; second place earns 10 playoff points; third place, 8; fourth place, 7; fifth place, 6; sixth place, 5; seventh place, 4; eighth place, 3; ninth place, 2; 10th place, 1. In this enhanced format, when is a race official? At the conclusion of Stage 2. How does the postseason work? Once the postseason begins, points will be reset to 2,000 for the opening round, with each driver's accrued bonus points tacked onto that total. Four drivers still will be eliminated in each round of the postseason, setting up a final four in Miami for all three national series. What is the tweak for playoff points? Playoff points earned for race wins or for leading at the end of Stage 1 or Stage 2 now will carry over round-by-round if a driver continues advancing. It's not just for the first round any more. Additionally, drivers can build off and add to those bonus points. So if a driver has 70 playoff points heading into the postseason, and then wins the playoff opener (five-point bonus), he or she would advance to the next round and carry 75 additional points -- or more, depending on his or her results over the next two races in the round. Does winning a race in the postseason still automatically qualify that driver for the next round, regardless of points? Yes. Winning trumps all. Will bonus points still carry over to Miami? No. Miami is the exception. All four drivers competing for the championship will start with the same amount of points. There will be no bonus points for this race for those final four drivers. First to the line wins the title.
Johnson wins NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Jimmie Johnson , who won a record-tying seventh NASCAR championship this past season, has been voted the winner of the 2016 Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award presented by the National Motorsports Press Association. Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports , was named on 62 percent of the ballots cast for the award of the NMPA membership. Others receiving votes were Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) and Joey Logano ( Team Penske ). Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Johnson are the only NASCAR drivers to win seven titles in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . The announcement was made during the NMPA's annual Convention and Awards Dinner held in Concord, North Carolina. It marks the seventh time Johnson, 41, has received the Driver of the Year honor. He also won the award in 2004, '06, '07, '09, '10, and '13. Johnson won five races in 2016, including the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway that clinched his seventh championship. He ended the year with 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 36 races. The award is named in honor of Petty, NASCAR's win leader in its top series with 200 victories. It has been presented annually by the NMPA since 1969. Twenty-three different drivers have won the award since its inception. Other awards: Veteran motorsports journalist Al Pearce was named the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Pocono Spirit Award. Pearce raised more than $13,000 through the auction of a racing helmet bearing the signatures of the 20 living World Driving Champions as well as those of Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham prior their passing. Proceeds from the project, which took nearly four years to complete, went to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation. ... Veteran public relations representative Dave Ferroni was named the 2016 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award. Ferroni has been involved in various forms of auto racing for more than 30 years. His company, DMF Communications, currently handles public relations for Furniture Row Racing and driver Martin Truex, Jr. in NASCAR's premier series. ... ESPN.com motorsports writer Bob Pockrass was named the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Joe Littlejohn Award for 2016. The award is named after the former track owner from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and is presented annually by the NMPA in recognition for outstanding service to the organization. Pockrass recently completed his eighth year as secretary treasurer for the NMPA. Richard Petty Driver of the Year Determined by vote of the membership, the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize the season's most outstanding driver. It is named in honor of the seven-time NASCAR premier series champion: 2016, Jimmie Johnson ; 2015, Kyle Busch ; 2014, Kevin Harvick ; 2013, Jimmie Johnson ; 2012, Brad Keselowski ; 2011, Tony Stewart ; 2010, Jimmie Johnson ; 2009, Jimmie Johnson ; 2008, Carl Edwards ; 2007, Jimmie Johnson ; 2006, Jimmie Johnson ; 2005, Tony Stewart ; 2004, Jimmie Johnson ; 2003, Ryan Newman ; 2002, Tony Stewart ; 2001, Kevin Harvick ; 2000, Bobby Labonte ; 1999, Dale Jarrett; 1998, Jeff Gordon ; 1997, Dale Jarrett; 1996, Terry Labonte ; 1995, Jeff Gordon ; 1994, Dale Earnhardt; 1993, Rusty Wallace; 1992, Davey Allison; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990, Dale Earnhardt; 1989, Mark Martin; 1988, Rusty Wallace; 1987, Dale Earnhardt; 1986, Tim Richmond and Dale Earnhardt; 1985, Bill Elliott ; 1984, Terry Labonte ; 1983, Bobby Allison; 1982, Darrell Waltrip; 1981, Darrell Waltrip; 1980 Dale Earnhardt; 1979 Cale Yarborough; 1978 Cale Yarborough; 1977, Cale Yarborough; 1976, Darrell Waltrip; 1975, Richard Petty; 1974, Richard Petty; 1973, David Pearson; 1972, Bobby Allison; 1971, Bobby Allison; 1970, Bobby Isaac; 1969, LeeRoy Yarbrough.
'Be yourself' resonates with young drivers at seminar
CHARLOTTE -- Being a race car driver entails much more than getting behind the wheel. Before the start of a new season, NASCAR walked its younger drivers through different aspects of the sport during its annual Driver Development Seminar. The 2017 edition was held Friday at the NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through guest speakers and breakout sessions, the assembled group was given a chance to hear from some of the most influential individuals in the sport. Among the featured guest speakers were NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory, Monster Energy Director of Motorsports Dave Gowland, FS1 broadcaster Adam Alexander, Lauren Murray, social media manager for Jimmie Johnson Racing Digital, and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson himself. "It really is a pretty comprehensive experience," driver Spencer Gallagher said. "I liked it. It's worth getting up at 7 in the morning for." This was Gallagher's fourth time experiencing the seminar, and the XFINITY Series rookie for GMS Racing called it NASCAR's best one yet. Among the topics broached was a look at the business of NASCAR, as well as a driver's identity. Gallagher pointed out some of the more interesting sessions, such as being given advice on how to get the most out of social media, what goes into a good interview and a driver's style. "It's a really informative event, especially about how we as drivers influence the direction of the series and the sport that we're in and how we can be ambassadors to the outside world," Gallagher said. "People have to want to watch us, and we as drivers play a very big role in that. It's really good to see NASCAR putting forth the effort to help train us. They bring in the best in the business and then tell you exactly how they do it." Matt Tifft was equally impressed. Now a full-time driver in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing , Tifft listened as O'Donnell talked about NASCAR's mission of seeing the sport's next superstar potentially come from the assembled group. With the welcoming of a new premier series sponsor, Monster Energy, Tifft was struck by how NASCAR is looking for drivers to show his or her individual personality this year. Something Tifft, at 20 years old, thinks will not only be a good thing, but also is needed for the sport to grow. "They want us to be ourselves and resonate (with others) and cross promote and bring people in from other interests and things like that," Tifft said. "I think it's a good idea and I think we probably need to do more of that as a sport." Tifft missed a portion of the 2016 season following surgery to remove a brain tumor. During his time away from the track, Tifft said it gave him perspective on how drivers need to step out of the bubble they can become trapped in during a season and take a look at how they can better represent themselves on and off the race track. The seminar drove home that point. Drivers like Myatt Snider and Chase Briscoe were given plenty to digest as each is set to begin the next chapter of his career. Snider will compete part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, and Briscoe is going full-time with Brad Keselowski Racing. "The biggest takeaway I've heard is they're going to let us kind of be our self a lot more," Briscoe said. "I think that's going to be good for everyone; I think it's going to be great for the sport, obviously. Looking forward to that. "Other than that, it's really cool to see how they're telling us to expand our brand. I feel like as a race car driver your brand is one of the most important things you can do. So building that brand outside what you do in the race car is obviously big and it's big for your future."
Carl Edwards' exit could put Christopher Bell on fast track to XFINITY
How long do you think it took Christopher Bell to do the math? Carl Edwards ' announcement of his abrupt exit from the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has had a ripple effect that could go far beyond the promotion of Daniel Suárez to a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride. Because Suárez will fill Edwards' seat in NASCAR’s premier series, he won't defend his NASCAR XFINITY Series title. Bell will be one of the beneficiaries of the changes in Suárez's schedule. "Right now, we have a solid plan for Christopher," said Dave Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) USA. "He exceeded our expectations. He got all the way to Miami (the championship race of the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase at Homestead-Miami Speedway ). This year, we expect him to get to Miami and win. "And if circumstances play out, we really would like to get him into an XFINITY car for a couple of races. We're working hard on that, and we're optimistic, but that could very well be a domino that falls. Those are helpful -- those couple of races where there's zero pressure, but it gives you a look at the next step." Last week at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 22-year-old Bell wasn't thinking about the next step. He was contemplating the next race, trying to become the first native Oklahoman to win the marquee event of midget racing since Andy Hillenburg accomplished the feat in 1994. (And, no, the Andy Hillenburg in question is not the Indiana-born driver who ran NASCAR races and later bought Rockingham Speedway . The Andy Hillenburg who won the Chili Bowl is a sprint car racer from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.) Bell was also thinking about the upcoming season in the Camping World Truck Series, where his own expectations mirror those of the Toyota brass. "I guess it could open it up for me," Bell said of Edwards' departure. "But, honestly, I haven't even really thought about it, because my schedule's already set, obviously, with Kyle Busch Motorsports. That's where my focus is, and we're going to aim really hard to win races this year. "We came close on the championship last year, but we didn't win many races -- we won one time. My goal is to win races with KBM." That doesn’t mean, however, that Bell wasn't enthused about the prospect of getting his first taste of the XFINITY Series. "That's great," he said during a break between features at the Chili Bowl. "That's good that I might get a couple of races -- that's really good ." The extent of Bell's participation in XFINITY races depends to some degree on sponsorship. Wilson said Suárez's primary sponsor, Arris, which also sponsored Edwards, will be confined to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup car, even though Suárez will still run between eight and 12 XFINITY races. "If he (Bell) does what he should do in '17, then, naturally, we would love to get him into an XFINITY ride in '18," Wilson said. "Yes, this could play into Christopher's further development and get him one or two more XFINITY races that we may not have foreseen prior to the news (about Edwards)." Last Saturday night, Bell fulfilled his long-standing dream of winning the Chili Bowl, noting that competing in the Truck Series had informed his approach to dirt-track racing. Biding his time in the 55-lap "A" Main, Bell started on the front row and passed polesitter Justin Grant on Lap 26. He stayed out front the rest of the way. "In years past, it's been attack, attack, attack," Bell said. "This year, it didn't have to be that way. I just ran hard enough to stay in position but not get into trouble. I was able to ride behind Justin there for a while. I knew the bottom was slowing down quite a bit and I kept trying the top. I tried it two times and I almost got passed, so I knew it was going to be a matter of too early or too late at the top. "I started to watch the big screen. (Eventual runner-up Daryn) Pittman was running the top at the time. I knew he was in eighth, and I looked up and he was third or fourth so I knew I had to go. Once I went, I was able to squeak by Justin on the straightaway, and then it was a matter of just not screwing up." That sort of patience is emblematic of Bell's maturation as a driver. Early last season, he didn't look like a championship contender. In the second race of 2016, at Atlanta, his aggressiveness led to a wreck that collected Suárez, his teammate, and fellow Toyota driver and two-time series champion Matt Crafton . But Bell won at Gateway Motorsports Park nine races into the schedule, and he finished outside the top 10 just twice in the last 16 events.
Earnhardts on giving and receiving end of special gifts
It's probably difficult to surprise a driver like Dale Earnhardt Jr . who's used to lightning quick movements in a NASCAR race, but that's exactly what Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, did when it named an activity room after Earnhardt and his wife Amy on Saturday. Both went on social media to share their appreciation for the honor: Blown away by @Nationwide gift to me and @AmyEarnhardt . They renamed the @nationwidekids Activity Room in our honor. Incredibly humbling. pic.twitter.com/cqBBx3Cfob — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 22, 2017 Humbling to say the very least. Thank you so much for all you do for the many treated @nationwidekids ! We will come back to visit soon! https://t.co/WFMDpYjDGN — Amy Earnhardt (@AmyEarnhardt) January 22, 2017 But that's not all that made it a special weekend for the Earnhardts. Junior auctioned off cars at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona, and raised $400,000 for @Nationwidekids . That's a lot of zeros and a good weekend of work for the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . A big check with lots of zeros. #ForTheKids #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/gSpytkPAhT — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) January 22, 2017
Drivers' outlook: 'The best racing you've ever seen'
RELATED: Fast facts on the enhancements CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR's top drivers certainly gave the series' newest enhancements a double thumbs-up Monday night as the racing sanctioning body unveiled an exciting new brand of racing. And winning. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski joined a Who's Who of NASCAR representatives on stage in downtown Charlotte to formally introduce and strongly endorse the format, which will award points throughout designated portions of the race in addition rewarding the final results. WATCH: New format explained in 1 minute "Every single race matters and not only that, every lap matters," defending Daytona 500 winner Hamlin said. "The old-school fans actually should love this. We're getting back to crowning your champion over 36 races and every single race matters." Added retired driver turned television broadcaster Jeff Burton : "It bridges what it used to be to what it is today." Finding an exciting, sensible and fair way to divvy up points and reward effort was the fundamental reasoning behind the change. And "listening to the fans," was a common refrain throughout the night. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell reiterated that the sport values its fan feedback and anticipates the new points format as a way to spike interest for the fans and to give the drivers and teams new strategies toward a season championship trophy. WATCH: Junior's take on the format enhancements "It's a real subtle change once you stand back and look at it," Earnhardt said. "A lot of things we do bring fan interest only or driver interest only. And I think this kind of does both." As expected, NASCAR drivers took to social media to offer their reviews of the sport's big change and it was met with resounding encouragement. "Let's see. ... WIN. WIN. WIN. Sounds good to me," reigning seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson posted on Twitter. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Clint Bowyer tweeted, "Digging the new @NASCAR racing format. Going to be interesting to see how these stage points affect the way the teams race the entire race." RELATED: Drivers tweet about 2017 upgrades Certainly the different format -- which will give points to the top-10 finishers in the first two stages, plus points to the ultimate race winner and rest of the entire field -- means new tactics. And new opportunity. As part of the revised format, the regular-season points leader will be honored as the regular-season champion and given 15 playoff points when the standings are reset to start the 10-race playoff run. "Basically you're going to throw two cautions," Earnhardt said, simplifying the in-race changes. "You're going to know when they are, which is actually kind of comforting. "You're going to see basically the same format as far as who wins the race and how the races are decided. The playoff doesn't really change at all. You're just going to have two breaks in every race that are going to be potentially rewarding to your driver. "That, to me, creates interest. " Keselowski said confidently of the new system, "I would tell anybody, when you want to get up at Lap 30 for that bowl of chips, you're not going to want to get up. It's going to be the first segment and you're going to see some great action. "You're going to see a moment like the pass in the grass that's going to be for the end of the first segment. Those are the moments that are going to make you really want to watch and love NASCAR racing for a long, long time. "Wait until you see it on the race track," Keselowski promised, "When you see this on the race track, this is going to be the best racing you've ever seen."
Race enhancements expected to improve TV experience
RELATED: Drivers react to race enhancements The NASCAR industry introduced major enhancements for its race format and points structure Monday, setting in motion a wave of new looks and incentives for 2017. But the collaboration also provided the opportunity for incentives for tuned-in fans -- more logical breaks for commercials during race telecasts. Monday's announcement made strides toward achieving that, launching the product of months of cooperation among drivers, tracks, the sanctioning body and TV broadcast partners. Based on the spirit of conversation from the group assembled on stage at the Charlotte Convention Center, the contingents from FOX and NBC Sports had much more than a nominal seat at the table. "Well, you can never guarantee anything, but I can say that sitting in the room all along the way with us were our two TV partners, and that was one of the core things we looked at," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "We listened to the fans and we see the fans, as well, that we don't like breaking away from live action. Can we eliminate that totally? Probably not. But this format allowed us to do that. That's why we put in two breaks." The new race format, which involves splitting races into three segments, now provides a natural interlude in the action after each of the opening two stages. Both Jeff Burton (NBC Sports) and Jeff Gordon (FOX Sports) -- two racers-turned-analysts -- said that broadcasters intend to use these intermissions to potentially interview stage winners and to take commercial breaks with minimal interruptions of pit stops or other crucial moments. RELATED: FAQ about the format enhancements The details of the unveiling didn't come with an ironclad guarantee for a 100-percent smooth transition from both the TV booth and the studio, but Burton said he expected the opportunities to evolve as the enhancements take hold. "I can promise you, I'm in my second year of doing this, there's a tremendous amount of effort by the networks to bring as much racing as possible to the fans," Burton said. "The fans tune in to watch the races, and finding a way to do that is difficult sometimes. This eases that a little bit. This gives a chance for us to go to a break at the right time so the fans miss as little green-flag racing as possible. There's a tremendous amount of effort put into that." Said Gordon: "Even if it's pit stops, those are important. People want to see that. They don't want it to happen while you're gone on a break. I think while some of that may still happen because there's still going to be cautions throughout the race that aren't part of the stage ending, I think this assures that just like the teams need to have sponsors to operate, so do the TV networks, and I think as this evolves, I think the fans are really going to see an experience that they're going to … that's going to please them and say, 'Oh, wow, that's awesome, I didn't miss that.' "You know, it's going to take some coordinating. It's not going to go flawless at times, but I think that it has the potential, and I think it will be really good as we get more and more experience at that."
NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Glory Road honors Davey Allison
Friday morning the NASCAR Hall of Fame unveiled its brand new set of Glory Road cars. The exhibit, which opens to the public on Saturday, January 7th, also honors the late Davey Allison.