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NASCAR.com reporters make national series predictions
RELATED: Key changes in NASCAR " Fast facts on race enhancements NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce, Holly Cain, Zack Albert and Jonathan Merryman make their predictions for the 2017 NASCAR season: KENNY BRUCE NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion: Timothy Peters . Rebounds from winless '16 to ride the Red Horse to the title. NASCAR XFINITY Series champion: Elliott Sadler . So close a year ago; his JRM team is rock solid. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year: Daniel Suarez . Stepping into a title-contending car; just needs seat time to become a challenger. Surprise playoffs qualifier: Daniel Suarez . There will be hurdles for last year's XFINITY Series champ, but he's proven to be a quick study. Daytona 500 pick: Kyle Busch . It's one of the few accomplishments left for one of NASCAR's best. Championship 4: Kevin Harvick : Switch to Ford proves to be a non-issue for 2014 champion. Joey Logano : Simple game plan: Get to the front and stay there. Kyle Busch : Bad-fast car. Extremely talented driver and team. Martin Truex Jr .: Team makes silly speed; gotta be there at the end, though. 2017 Monster Energy Series champion: Joey Logano . Can win a slew of races or be crazy consistent. This year he could do both. HOLLY CAIN NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion: John Hunter Nemechek . My repeat pick from 2016, but hoping the right (generous) sponsor sees this young talent and he gets the backing to match his potential. NASCAR XFINITY Series champion: Elliott Sadler -- The veteran has been oh-so-close and this is the year it all comes together for him. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year: Erik Jones . The Furniture Row Racing 's newest team member is super-talented, highly motivated and knows how to shine even among such fantastic first-year talent. Surprise playoffs qualifier: Kasey Kahne . This will be a resurgent year for the talented 17-time Cup winner who is ready to remind people of his place in the sport. Out front. Daytona 500 pick: Denny Hamlin . Daytona has been Hamlin's playground and he's poised to be the first back-to-back 500 winner since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95. Championship 4: Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch and Joey Logano will decide the Cup after hugely competitive playoffs that ends in a history-making moment. 2017 Monster Energy Series champion: Jimmie Johnson . Reigning champ makes history with his eighth title. ZACK ALBERT NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion: Christopher Bell . The 22-year-old standout bookends a season that started with a Chili Bowl victory with his first national series crown. NASCAR XFINITY Series champion: William Byron . A hotshot rookie for the title? Gobs of talent and JR Motorsports resources go a long way. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year: Daniel Suarez . First-year driver steps into a well-established team that contends for victories. Surprise playoffs qualifier: AJ Allmendinger . Planets align for the No. 47 team at one of the series' two road-course visits. Daytona 500 pick: Brad Keselowski. Team Penske 's strength shows, with one of the best in the restrictor-plate biz leading the charge in the "Great American Race." Championship 4: Kevin Harvick , Denny Hamlin , Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski . The cream rises, with four organizations and all three manufacturers represented in the final bracket. 2017 Monster Energy Series champion: Denny Hamlin. He's been on the podium three times before. In 2017, Hamlin should make it to the top step. JONATHAN MERRYMAN NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion: Matt Crafton . Great, consistent racer. That style will fit the new format. NASCAR XFINITY Series champion: Elliott Sadler . Coming off of a solid 2016, the No. 1 JRM team should be in position to win it all. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup NASCAR Series Rookie of the Year: Erik Jones . Seat time in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car in 2015 should help the rookie seal the deal. Surprise playoffs qualifier: Erik Jones . I think the rookie wins a race in 2017 clinching a playoff berth. Daytona 500 pick: Brad Keselowski , with four wins at Talladega and one win at Daytona in the summer of 2016, Keselowski has quickly become one of the best plate-racers in NASCAR. Championship 4: Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch . All four consistently finish races and have multiple win seasons. 2017 Monster Energy Series champion: Kevin Harvick . Mr. "Where did he come from?" has turned in to Mr. Consistency over the past few seasons. Consistency combined with the new points format should complement Harvick well.
Ryan Reed wins 'Big One'-filled XFINITY Series opener
Social reaction to first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove " Full race results Kurt Busch won the 59th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday in legendary fashion, coming to the lead in the closing laps of the first race under the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series banner. NASCAR Nation reacted to the truly remarkable day -- here are some of the best tweets. Wasn't our day, but the @AspenDental car was fast. IT WAS, @KurtBusch day! Congrats also to @TonyOldman41 @FordPerformance @StewartHaasRcng — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) February 27, 2017 Huge congrats to @KurtBusch and every single @StewartHaasRcng employee. @roushyates hp was the heat all week long. #DAYTONA500 — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) February 27, 2017 Way to go @KurtBusch that was cool. I thoroughly enjoyed that #Daytona500 — Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) February 26, 2017 There's a couple old DEI #8 2004 #Daytona500 guys on @KurtBusch team. Certainly happy for @TonyOldman41 @jguarneri41 and those boys! — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) February 26, 2017 How about that? @KurtBusch wins the #Daytona500 . What a crazy, crazy race! — Eddie Gossage (@eddiegossage) February 26, 2017 . @KurtBusch wins his 1st #Daytona500 after a wild final few laps. What a way to start the Monster era. @NASCARonNBC #NASCAR — Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting) February 26, 2017 Neat.... The first race for the @MonsterEnergy NASCAR Cup Series is won by the #Haas / @MonsterEnergy car. #NASCAR — Chris Knight (@Knighter01) February 26, 2017 Congrats Kurt and Ashley on the big win — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) February 26, 2017 Wow, what a way to ring in the Monster Energy era. Congrats, @KurtBusch ! #Daytona500 — Kristen Schneider (@KristenS_Writes) February 26, 2017 How fitting that the Monster car wins the first ever Monster Energy #NASCAR Cup race. #Daytona500 — Nick DeGroot (@ndegroot89) February 26, 2017 Wow, what a race?! @mattdracing runs P9 in the freaking Daytona 500 ! So happy for you my man. #timetoparty — Tanner Berryhill (@tannerberryhill) February 26, 2017 Congrats on the win @KurtBusch ! #Daytona500 — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) February 26, 2017 Crazy #Daytona500 ... gets me excited to get the season going! — Chad Boat (@ChadBoat) February 26, 2017 This is how Rhett watched the last laps of the #Daytona500 ! Congrats @KurtBusch and @TonyOldman41 ! #rhettlovesracing pic.twitter.com/hOQWQADXOm — Megan Smith (@megansmith1217) February 26, 2017 Congrats @KurtBusch Can't help but think about Your #Daytona500 winning story as one of perseverance at this track. — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) February 27, 2017 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
RCR, Menards renew partnership in XFINITY Series
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! WELCOME, N.C. -- Looking to continue building success both on and off the track, Menards has renewed its partnership with Richard Childress Racing 's NASCAR XFINITY Series program for a fifth year. Menards will serve as a primary sponsor for select races throughout the 2017 season with Paul Menard and Ben Kennedy driving the No. 2 Chevrolet and Brandon Jones in the No. 33 Chevrolet. "We are excited that the 2017 season is upon us," said Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesperson. "We look forward to once again partnering with RCR, Paul Menard , Ben Kennedy and Brandon Jones in the XFINITY Series , and having three quality race car drivers working hard as teammates and competitors. Our tremendous group of racing partners look forward to seeing Paul, Ben and Brandon in Victory Lane." Menard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 2 Menards/Richmond Chevrolet Camaro for select XFINITY Series races during the 2017 season, while also competing full-time in the No. 27 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for RCR. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin, native has a strong history of success in the XFINITY Series , having captured three wins, six pole awards, 38 top-five and 93 top-10 finishes. Twenty-year-old Brandon Jones and the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro also will be carrying the Menards banner again alongside the Menard's No. 2 Chevrolet. The Atlanta native qualified for the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase last season, while securing 17 top-11 finishes, to end 2016 10th in the XFINITY Series points standings and third in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. As RCR's full-time driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in the XFINITY Series , Jones is prepared to turn all that he learned and accomplished in his rookie year into consistently high performances throughout his sophomore season. Ben Kennedy , coming to RCR from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series , also will pilot the No. 2 Menards Chevrolet Camaro at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15. The 25-year-old made his XFINITY Series debut last season with RCR at Iowa Speedway , in which he secured a 10th place finish, and will compete in select races in the No. 2 Chevrolet throughout the 2017 season. "Menards continues to showcase their commitment and dedication to both RCR and the NASCAR XFINITY Series with the renewed support for Paul Menard , Brandon Jones and Ben Kennedy ," said Richard Childress, CEO and Chairman of Richard Childress Racing . "It's great to feature such a winning company and their variety of vendor-partners both on and off the track and we hope to continue their success this season." Since the 1970s, Menards has a strong history as a racing sponsor, which includes a win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with driver Paul Menard . A family-owned company started in 1960 and headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Menards has 305 retail store locations throughout the Midwest.
Kaz Grala sneaks by last-lap 'Big One' for win at Daytona
RELATED: Race results " Series standings " Detailed breakdown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In the space of 100 laps, Kaz Grala went from youngest NASCAR national series pole winner at Daytona International Speedway to youngest NASCAR national series race winner at Daytona. What happened between the first green flag and the checkers, however, could fill volumes. Miraculously, Grala slipped through a wild wreck on the backstretch on the final lap of Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250 to win the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race contested in stages under NASCAR's new competition format. That final wreck, ignited when Ben Rhodes spun from the outside lane off the bumper of ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger, wiped out veteran contenders Johnny Sauter , Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton . RELATED: In-car look at last-lap melee But Grala -- 18 years, 1 month and 26 days old -- drove through the melee as trucks bounced off each other like pinballs on either side of him. Grala claimed the trophy for his first national series victory and the five playoff points that go with a race win under NASCAR's new scoring system. Austin Wayne Self took the runner-up spot, followed by Chase Briscoe, and the father-son combination of John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Nemechek in fourth and fifth. "That was freaking awesome! I can't believe we won Daytona," Grala said in Victory Lane. "I couldn't see a lot there. I knew it was a little bit risky. It was the last lap, and we had to do what we had to do. "I saw coming out of (Turn) 2 it starting to get crazy. There wasn't going to be any way I was going to be lifting (off the accelerator). I was just going to go low, cross my fingers and close my eyes a little bit. "Luckily, it worked out for me. I just can't believe it. It's so surreal." Self put it much more succinctly. "When all hell broke loose, we were in the right spot." The race didn't wait until the last lap to get crazy. On the second lap, Briscoe, racing for the first time in the Truck Series , gave Noah Gragson's Toyota an off-center tap on the rear bumper, sending Gragson bouncing off the outside wall in Turn 1 and out of control. By the time the smoke cleared, 17 trucks -- one more than half the field -- had sustained varying degrees of damage in the wreck. RELATED: One lap in, wreck shakes up Daytona field Gragson, Austin Cindric and Ryan Truex couldn't continue. Same for Ross Chastain and Clay Greenfield . John Hunter Nemechek stayed on the lead lap but fell victim to a flat tire as Stage 2 of the race came to an end with Sauter in the lead. "I took a few hard hits out there," said Gragson, who was unhurt in the wreck. "Just a bummer. I didn't want to end the race like this, but I had a good time for the lap I got. "Felt like the 29 (Briscoe) hit me in the wrong part of the bumper going through the tri-oval. It just got me loose, and it got pointed into the outside wall." In the final 60-lap stage, all four GMS Chevrolet pitted early on Lap 68. Though Spencer Gallagher and ultimate sixth-place finisher Scott Lagasse Jr. drew speeding penalties while exiting pit road, Sauter reclaimed the lead, with Grala trailing him, when Christopher Bell 's Toyota got loose in Turn 4, slowed and spun off the bumper of Timothy Peters ' Tundra. Sauter, the defending series champion, looked to be in control of the race until John Hunter Nemechek 's spin off Turn 2 on Lap 95 of 100 caused the fifth and final caution and set up a chaotic two-lap run to the finish. Wrecked on the backstretch, Sauter was credited with a 15th-place finish but collected two playoff points for winning both the first and second stages, each lasting 20 laps. Bell, one of the preseason favorites for the championship, sustained heavy damage in three wrecks, including the last one, but his seemingly indestructible No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra made it to the finish line in eighth-place, salvaging a respectable result from a potentially disastrous night. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR celebrates best racing in years with return of Ready. Set. Race
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Following a season highlighted by some of the closest, side-by-side racing NASCAR® fans have seen in years, NASCAR today announced the return of its 2017 season launch marketing campaign, Ready. Set. Race. The new integrated campaign, including television creative promoting the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ™, will launch during the 2017 DAYTONA 500® on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). NASCAR fans received a first look at "Sensory Overdrive" Friday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A 30-second thrill ride, the spot brings to life the high-stakes drama and intensity drivers experience competing in the sport's premier series . The campaign also includes social media videos featuring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers shared this week and throughout the season. "The Ready. Set. Race campaign was so popular with our fans last year that we couldn't wait to bring it back with even more intense racing action," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series creative is unlike any advertising we've ever done. Monster Energy has built a bold, edgy brand, so we wanted to deliver creative that first and foremost is NASCAR but that also complements our new entitlement partner." The new Ready. Set. Race creative was developed in conjunction with agency partner 77 Ventures and acclaimed commercial director Gary Land. Additional creative breaking Sunday on FOX includes "A New Season," an action-packed, 60-second spot that accentuates the NASCAR racing experience across all three national series .
Steve O'Donnell pleased with enhanced race format following Daytona weekend
RELATED: Results " Standings " Fast facts: Enhancements DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The early reviews from NASCAR's first race weekend with a stage-based format laden with performance incentives are in. For the sport's top competition official, those reviews were boffo. Steve O'Donnell -- NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer -- held an informal media scrum after Sunday's Daytona 500 , fielding questions about the race's three-stage process, the five-minute pit repair clock, and the multiple multi-car crashes that affected all three national- series events. "I'd say overall really pleased," O'Donnell said in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage at Daytona International Speedway . "Saw a lot of great, hard racing. Everybody knows that every driver wants to win the Daytona 500 . We saw drivers up on the wheel all day long, racing hard, and that's exactly what we expected from the format." O'Donnell said he was content with the frenzied competition that produced race winners in Kurt Busch for the Daytona 500 , Ryan Reed (XFINITY Series ) and Kaz Grala (Camping World Truck Series ) in the other national circuits. All three races were marked with attrition in several sizable accidents, but O'Donnell chalked that up to the high stakes of racing for victories at the historic 2.5-mile speedway. "I think people wanted to win," O'Donnell said. "People want to win at Daytona and we wanted drivers racing hard up front and racing hard for wins. So that's we expected. In terms of good, hard racing, I think that's what you saw all three days." O'Donnell noted that despite the wrecks that snared Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick among others, those two drivers had a semblance of consolation prizes with an accumulation of points by virtue of their stage victories. O'Donnell also pointed out that the five-minute time limit for repairs made on pit road worked as anticipated. He said he did not expect officials to expand the time span, noting that no teams had raised an issue with it over the course of the weekend. "I doubt it because this came from the teams," O'Donnell said, "and when we looked at what was the proper amount of time, their suggestion was five minutes because they thought their day was really done if they couldn't fix something within the five-minute clock. Obviously if a lot of folks come to us from a team standpoint and say we need more, but the whole point of that was to make sure the cars were safe and in race-able condition." O'Donnell also said he was content with the number of laps that were completed under caution between stages -- seven after Stage 1 and five after Stage 2 -- but said that the number would be a "work in progress" during the season.
Kurt Busch wins first Daytona 500 with last-lap pass
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Detailed breakdown " Shop for winner gear DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- His car damaged in a wreck on the backstretch and held together with tape, Kurt Busch grabbed the lead on the final lap of the 59th Daytona 500 on Sunday and took the checkered flag in the Great American Race as a capstone to a checkered career that has trended upward since Busch joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. In a race that featured the first test of a new three-stage race format in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series -- and featured enough twisted sheet metal to keep fabricators busy for a month -- Busch surged to the front with a run around the outside when more than half the vehicles in an 11-car lead draft sputtered and ran short on fuel. Having pushed other drivers to victory in the 500 on three previous occasions, Busch took the prize himself this time, finishing .228 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney , who came from the rear of the lead pack on the final two laps. AJ Allmendinger ran third after conserving fuel over the final 20 laps, as a race that had produced eight caution flags for 40 laps ran green for the final 47 circuits. Aric Almirola finished fourth as a single car for Richard Petty Motorsports , with Paul Menard and Joey Logano coming home fifth and sixth, respectively. "I can't believe it!" Busch shouted on his team radio after claiming the 29th victory of his career and by far the most significant. "I love you guys! Thank you! Thank you!" Busch lost his rear view mirror in the middle of the final green-flag run, but it didn't matter. "There is nothing predictable about this race any more, and the more years that have gone by that I didn't win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past," Busch said. "My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. "It just got crazy and wild, and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run, and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona's Victory Lane!" Busch did what other drivers with seemingly stronger cars could not. Pole winner Chase Elliott was disconsolate after running out of fuel on the white-flag lap. He finished 14th. Kyle Busch won the first 60-lap stage and collected the first playoff point in series history, but on Lap 105, he spun in Turn 3 when he cut a rear tire and collected fellow Toyota drivers Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth , as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who was returning to competition after missing the final 18 races of the 2016 season while recovering from a concussion. Busch fell out of the race in 38th place. Earnhardt took his car to the garage in 37th. Kevin Harvick led 50 of the 200 laps and took the second stage, but he fell victim on Lap 128 to the 17-car pileup on the backstretch that also did the most damage to the sheet metal on Kurt Busch 's car. The 2014 series champion finished 22nd, three laps down. Busch's team owner, Tony Stewart , retired from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the 2016 season. Stewart-Haas spent the winter converting from Chevrolet to Ford, but it seemed to make little difference to Busch, who won his 2004 series championship in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford. "It was a crazy race, even crazier to sit and watch it from a pit box finally," Stewart said. "If I had known all I had to do was retire, I would have retired 17 years ago, if I knew it was what it took to win the race ... I ran this damn race for 18 years and didn't win it. "Kurt did an amazing job. He doesn't even have a rear view mirror. The mirror folded on him. His spotter, Tony Raines , did an amazing job. That is the most composed I have ever seen Kurt at the end of a race. He deserved this."
FAQ for NASCAR's 2017 race format enhancements
RELATED: Full coverage of announcement " Official NASCAR press release Editor's note: Stage 1 for the Daytona 500 will end on Lap 60, Stage 2 will end on Lap 120 and Stage 3/race conclusion is slated to end on Lap 200. 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. The maximum points a driver can earn in a race is 60 (40 for the race win plus 20 points for winning both stages). 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.
Jeff Gordon to drive Camaro pace car at Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Three-time Daytona 500 winner and four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will lead the field to the start of Sunday's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) behind the wheel of the new 2017 Camaro ZL1 pace car. "Chevrolet and I have a great history at the Daytona 500 and it's an honor to drive the 650-horsepower Camaro ZL1 pace car for the largest, most historic race of the season," Gordon said. Chevrolet will also pace the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Nextera Energy Resources 250 with a 2017 Silverado on Friday evening. A 2017 Camaro SS -- featuring a new Krypton Green exterior color -- will pace the NASCAR XFINITY Series Powershares QQQ 300 on Saturday. "Chevrolet is proud to pace the 'Great American Race' on the high banks of the iconic Daytona International Speedway ," said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers. "The Camaro ZL1 delivers unprecedented levels of technology, refinement and track capability." Gordon has plenty of experience leading the field at Daytona. In addition to winning the Daytona 500 in 1997, 1999 and 2005, he shared the overall win last month at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. All three Chevrolet pace vehicles share graphic theme highlights in silver and black, along with selected accessories and personalization features. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;