NASCAR simplifies manufacturer points system
Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
Cain: Bigger and more memorable at Texas
RELATED: Gallery of memorable moments at Texas " Full weekend schedule FORT WORTH -- From track "weepers" and multicar inaugural-lap pileups to a winner's circle confrontation between two Indianapolis 500 champs, Texas Motor Speedway has been the site of some of the most remarkable, memorable and bizarre story lines of any circuit on the NASCAR circuit. The 1.5-mile oval outside Fort Worth celebrates its 20th year hosting a NASCAR race this week with Saturday night's Duck Commander 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.) And for those of us around at the very beginning, it seems a fitting time to reminisce a bit about the facility's famously storied early history. As they like to remind you in Texas, everything is "bigger" there. And it has been. The track's early trials and tribulations have only contributed to its great character and esteem. In my 25 years of sports journalism, the opening races at Texas Motor Speedway still remain among the most unforgettable times of my career. Never before and never since have I covered a specific beat that provided as much sensation, controversy and must-see-TV as TMS in the early years. Two decades later, the track located at the intersection of an interstate and two major Texas highways has evolved into one of the sport's most prestigious venues. It boasts the largest HD screen, named "Big Hoss," fantastic spectator seating and the most condominiums of any track on the circuit. Plus really great racing. Nearly 195,000 people showed up for the inaugural Texas race in 1997 and most of those who were ticket holders then still are, two decades later proving they are as faithful and optimistic as they were devoted. It turns out those have been good traits for this endeavor. MORE: Paint scheme preview for Texas I had just started work at The Dallas Morning News newspaper in the spring of 1997 a few weeks after Jeff Burton took the checkered flag for NASCAR's first Cup series race at Texas in April. The new facility was considered the "home track" to cover. After reporting on the Indianapolis 500 in May, I was immediately back home in Dallas, ready for the Indy Racing League's night-time debut at TMS the next week. There, a 26-year old future three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart put on an open-wheel show for the ages, racing wheel-to-wheel lap-after-lap with Buddy Lazier. Stewart -- who went on to win two Cup races at Texas (2006 and 2011) -- led a race-high 100 of the 208 laps only to suffer an engine failure that night. But toward the end of the race there were questions regarding the scoring shown on the monitor in the press box. And soon after making my way down to the infield to prepare for a super-tight Saturday night newspaper deadline, the real craziness began. While trying to get post-race quotes from the apparent first-time winner Billy Boat ( XFINITY Series driver Chad's dad) and Boat's team owner, Texan A.J. Foyt, I was standing a few feet away when driver Arie Luyendyk confronted Foyt in Victory Lane. After questioning the results, challenging Foyt and suggesting he was actually the legitimate race winner, Luyendyk tumbled into the victory flowers. Boat and Foyt hoisted the trophy. It was surreal. I was on a crazy tight deadline. But the next day in a hastily called press conference, Luyendyk was declared the winner after USAC conceded a scoring error. After USAC officials suggested problems with the track's scoring system , TMS President Eddie Gossage took the press conference podium and strongly reminded that the speedway wasn't responsible for the scoring . "I got home at 3 in the morning knowing we gave the trophy to the wrong winner and had a press conference for 8 in the morning," said Gossage. "I go in to the press conference with two hours of sleep and I'm sitting in the back row and the head scorer for USAC says that the speedway's timing and scoring equipment didn't work. "He says it again and then a third time so I just walked up on stage and stepped up to the podium and eased him to the side and said, " Texas Motor Speedway doesn't own a stop watch. ... People have a right to know when they leave the race track who the winner is and we all didn't get what we paid for." Then after a dramatic exit and door slam, Gossage recalls, "My dad called from Tennessee and said, 'You were raised better, acting like an idiot on television for all the world to see, embarrassing me and your mom.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'You didn't know it was live on ESPN?' "I didn't. And then I was like, 'You're right, sir. I'm sorry. I know better.' " Gossage has a good laugh recalling the whole ordeal now. Foyt, who still disputes the result, kept the trophy and Luyendyk was given another one. A year later, Boat recalled of the evening, "We went into Victory Circle knowing nothing about a scoring error, only that someone was talking derogatory about our race team. You don't do that in a big Texan's Victory Circle." Luyendyk, of Holland, said the incident -- replayed repeatedly all over the world at the time -- actually made him and the Texas Motor Speedway more famous overseas. MORE: Gossage and drivers try to draw state of Texas And then in 1998 came NASCAR's second Cup try. After two multi-car accidents in the inaugural race, conventional wisdom promised this one just had to go down more smoothly. NASCAR's biggest stars such as Rusty Wallace, Ernie Irvan, Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin were among those who crashed in the opening race. Darrell Waltrip finished last after being involved in a 13-car wreck on the very first turn of the very first lap of Cup competition there. And Burton ended up winning by 4 seconds. Surely, everyone figured, the second race would be smoother. It wasn't. "Weepers" became a familiar word. The water seeping through the track caused qualifying to be completed a day late. And of all things, there was a huge 10-car accident on the second lap of the race. Jeff Gordon and yes, Waltrip, were collected in that melee. Mark Martin won the race by a half-second over Chad Little and Robert Pressley. Shortly after, TMS went through a re-paving and re-fitting, track owner Bruton Smith and Gossage committed to correction. "The first year it was just terrible and everything seemed to go wrong," Gossage conceded this week. "And the second year, obviously you try to improve so all of a sudden here's these weepers that came through. "I remember driving into the infield and in the rearview mirror saw Lake Speed knock the wall down in Turn 1 in qualifying. I thought, 'Oh no.' "I'm always the worst critic," Gossage said, logging the long hours readying for the weekend's big events. "There are things other people might not have noticed but I did. For some reason things worked really well in 1999 when Terry Labonte won and it's been better since then. That's the way a race weekend was supposed to go." Not only has it been better, it's typically a discussion point in every season review. In 2005, Texas finally got the second date it had longed for since I worked at the Dallas paper nearly a decade earlier. And the facility -- big enough to fit every Texas sporting stadium in its infield -- is also a big-time player in the Chase for the Sprint Cup . It's still providing those jaw-dropping, television highlight moments seemingly born with the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr . scored his first Cup win at TMS in April 2000. And Chase Elliott got his first XFINITY Series win here in 2014 driving for Junior at JR Motorsports. Gordon, who won this race in 2009, has starred in a couple TMS highlight reels, too. He was involved in a pair of high profile skirmishes from taking on Burton on-track after a wreck in 2010 to a crazy pit road scuffle with Brad Keselowski in 2014. "You have to be honest," Gossage said. "And looking back, it's just how things occurred. I wouldn't trade any of it, if it is what got us where we are. I'll take where we stand in our success as the most successful major market speedway in the history of this sport. I'll take that. "I won't trade my job with the guy running any other race track because I'm just so proud of what's been accomplished here."
Chris Buescher joins expanding JTG Daugherty Racing for 2017
RELATED: Driver and team changes for 2017 JTG Daugherty Racing officials have confirmed that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization will expand to two full-time teams in 2017 with the addition of driver Chris Buescher . JTG Daugherty, co-owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty, has fielded a single full-time car in the series since 2009. A.J. Allmendinger, the team's primary driver since 2014, will remain with the organization as driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet. "We can confirm at this time that JTG Daugherty Racing is currently in the process of starting a second team in the NASCAR premier series," Tad Geschickter said. "We would also like to confirm and welcome Chris Buescher to the team as our driver for the second car." Buescher, the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion while at Roush Fenway Racing , spent the 2016 season competing for Front Row Motorsports . According to a release from RFR, Buescher and the organization's charter for its No. 16 team have been "leased" to JTG Daugherty for the upcoming season. "I'm thankful for the opportunity and look forward to competing for a spot in the Chase," Buescher, 24, said. Buescher qualified for the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup after scoring his first career premier series win, at Pocono Raceway . While he failed to advance out of the first round of the 10-race elimination-style format, he finished 16th in points, a career best for a Front Row Motorsports team. Allmendinger finished a career-best 13th in points in 2014 when he qualified for the Chase. The No. 47 team ended the '16 season with two top fives and nine top-10 finishes and Allmendinger 19th in points. He scored the organization's lone victory to date in the premier series, winning at Watkins Glen in 2014. </p>
How NASCAR driver points are awarded per race
Under the charter system that was established in 2016, NASCAR's premier series events have 40 cars in the field. Each finishing spot in the field earns a driver points, from a maximum of 40 points to the driver who finishes first, down to one point for the driver who finishes 40th. These points accrue over a season and determine the driver standings, as well as the owner standings. Points are accumulated over each of the 36 races. There is a reset for the 16 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the regular-season finale at Richmond, the series' 26th race of the season. There are additional points resets in the postseason after the completion of the three-race Round of 16, Round of 12 and Round of 8. Below is a look at how a driver earns points based on finishing position. Additionally, a driver can earn bonus points for the following: -- Three bonus points to the race-winning driver -- One bonus point to any driver who leads a lap in a race -- One bonus point to the driver who leads the most laps in a race Other key items to know: • The driver who starts the race receives the points; a relief driver does not earn points. • If two or more drivers tie for most laps led, each gets a bonus point. • Bonus points are not awarded in the final race of the season to the Championship 4 drivers.
The Rundown: Las Vegas
Analysis of all 43 cars in Sunday's Kobalt 400 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An 18th-place start was only a temporary stall for the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, who surged to take the lead on Lap 91. He paced the field for a race-high 142 laps and persevered through "an uncomfortable last run" to earn his first Cup win at the 1.5-mile desert oval and his third straight top-two result of the 2015 season. Harvick, now the points leader, has won his past three contests at Phoenix International Raceway , the next stop on the Cup circuit. " WATCH: Harvick discusses the win in Victory Lane 2. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex overcame a loose-handling condition midway through the race to record his best LVMS result and earn his third straight top-10 of the year. " READ: Truex's inspirational drive 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . As the temperatures increased on the 1.5-mile desert track, the handling of Newman's Chevrolet initially disappeared. He rallied to finish third and capture his best career LVMS result. " WATCH: Newman discusses Vegas finish 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior showed strength driving the high line, but his late-race lead was cut short by a hard-charging Harvick. "Second, fifth, fourth -- it don't matter (where you finish) if you don't win," said Earnhardt, who now ranks second in the points standings. " WATCH: Junior weighs in on late-race gamble 5. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The left-front of Hamlin's Toyota sustained damage early while he tried to navigate a congested pit road. The impact was enough to affect his initial speed but not his overall performance. He is the biggest mover from the race weekend, improving 11 spots to eighth in the standings. 6. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. The single-car outfit continues its ascent after Allmendinger wheeled his way to his second straight top-10 result. Allmendinger picked up three spots and now ranks fifth in the standings. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . A tire vibration and subsequent pit road violation could have spelled doom for Keselowski, but he caught a break in both cases. First, the competition caution gave his team a chance to address the vibration. Much later, Jimmie Johnson blew a tire, which prompted the caution and enabled then-beneficiary of the free pass Keselowski to return to the lead lap. The 2012 Champion picks up six spots in the standings, improving to 16th. 8. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson's pit crew performed well, helping the Cup sophomore nab his first top 10 of the season. 9. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth scored his second top-10 of the year after working with his team to solve a loose-handling condition. Another big mover, Kenseth improves eight spots to now rank 10th in the points standings. " See the full Sprint Cup Series standings 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Two pit road speeding penalties couldn't keep Logano down, as the driver led the opening 27 laps prior through the competition caution. The Daytona 500 champion rallied to post his third straight top-10 of the year and ranks third in the points standings. 11. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray just missed recording his first top-10 of the season and improves seven positions to 25th in the driver standings. 12. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard, who narrowly avoided being collected by Carl Edwards ’ incident on Lap 195, improves four spots in the points standings to 13th. 13. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Scott benefited from the beneficiary of the free pass after a caution on Lap 187 and went on to claim his best career Cup finish. 14. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing. Biffle started strong, but encountered a loose-handing condition that hindered his forward progress. Still, he improved two spots in the points standings to 11th. 15. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Vickers, in his first race back since open heart surgery, began Sunday's race by thanking his team for not giving up on him. He surged quickly through the field after starting 28th. 16. Regan Smith , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Smith weathered an early pit road penalty and returned to the lead lap as the beneficiary of the free pass after Carl Edwards ’ accident on Lap 195. Smith was running fourth with 17 laps to go and was among the leaders trying to hold out for a late-race caution during the long green-flag stretch. 17. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne could seemingly run any line he wanted at Vegas on Sunday and spent the first half of the event racing inside the top five. His luck faded, though, on Lap 195 when he was traveling the high line and Carl Edwards forced him into the wall. " MORE: Kahne, Edwards clash in Kobalt 400 18. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon, the Coors Light Pole Award winner, had to start from the rear of the field after being involved in an accident with Danica Patrick during final practice. The highs and lows continued for the veteran in his final Vegas race. He improved to crack the top 10 by Lap 143, but sustained critical damage to the nose of his car after bumping Jeb Burton 29 laps later. Burton was trying to avoid being collected when Jimmie Johnson blew a tire. " MORE: Tough day for Gordon in Las Vegas 19. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney recovered from early issues to find speed late in the race and post his best result so far of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. 20. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon improved 15 spots to crack the top 10 on Lap 75, but later was dealt a pit road penalty that impacted his team's forward march. 21. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Rear grip was a problem for Bowyer in practice and on Sunday, he constantly reported a tight-handling race car. His team gambled on pit strategy by staying out during late-race, green-flag stops, but Bowyer ultimately had to stop to make it to the end. 22. David Ragan , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Despite qualifying 13th, Ragan started from the rear of the field after slapping the wall during final practice. The team made consistent gains and ran steadily inside the top 25. 23. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Crew chief Donnie Wingo reminded Gilliland that Las Vegas had a history of getting looser as the race continued and encouraged Gilliland to use the driver-adjustable track bar feature. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Late-race gains improved the handling of the No. 9 Ford, and he held on to score his best result at LVMS since 2009. 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Although handling was an ongoing issue, Mears' top-25 result keeps him inside the top 10 of the points standings. He is ranked ninth going into next week at Phoenix International Raceway . 26. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola ran as high as ninth on Sunday and raced inside the top 20 until he was clocked going too fast entering pit road at Lap 197. 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick's team salvaged her starting spot after she was involved in a last-minute accident in final practice. She reported aero issues on Sunday, which she said made her car easy to turn sideways in traffic. 28. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne struggled to find balance all race long in his Ford, which shifted from a tight- to loose-handling condition as the race unfolded. 29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse's Vegas run was complicated after he made contact with the wall and then hit a loose tire on pit road. He worked with his team to persevere through the damage. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell narrowly avoided colliding with Michael Annett , when Annett lost the handle on his car around Lap 150. Still, McDowell held on to earn his best LVMS finish. 31. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier struggled to make forward progress after being penalized three times throughout the race by the new pit road scoring system . " MORE: Allgaier's car too light in post-race inspection 32. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Although Whitt's team struggled to find the right combination, he held on to achieve his best Las Vegas result. 33. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . A steering box issue compounded initial handling woes for Stewart, who also was dealt an uncontrolled tire violation during a Lap 84 pit stop. 34. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise kept his nose clean during Sunday's race and quietly steered the No. 98 machine to his best result at the 1.5-mile desert track. 35. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. An early pit road violation wasn't insurmountable for Cassill, who went on to post his best Vegas finish. 36. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley finished 16th in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race, but struggled to carry that momentum over into the Cup scene. 37. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt opened the race with promise after posting an eighth-place finish last weekend at the intermediate track of Atlanta Motor Speedway . He qualified 36th and struggled to make up much ground, ultimately brushing the wall as he concluded his first outing at Las Vegas. 38. Brendan Gaughan , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The only Las Vegas native in the race -- given the absence of the Busch brothers -- was clocked too fast entering pit road on Lap 76 during green flag stops. 39. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Early in Sunday's contest, Annett wiggled exiting Turn 4 and made hard contact with the wall. Tire smoke prompted him to make an unscheduled pit stop. 40. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . The lone Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the field, Burton slowed to avoid Jimmie Johnson 's first incident when he received an inadvertent nudge from behind by veteran Jeff Gordon . 41. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson led 45 laps during the first half of Sunday's race and appeared poised to contend for his fifth Las Vegas victory when tire issues arose. Two blown tires within 14 laps of one another sent Johnson to the garage at Lap 186. " MORE: Tire trouble ruins Johnson's day at Vegas 42. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards' promising run was cut short Sunday when his car slid up the track and made contact with Kahne. Edwards almost saved his car from a subsequent spin, but ultimately retreated to the garage with a busted oil cooler. " MORE: Edwards, Kahne clash at Las Vegas 43. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . An engine issue on Lap 28 dashed Bowman's hopes of continuing the momentum he started last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway . MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Watch NASCAR's Victory Lap on the Vegas Strip
Watch the full replay of NASCAR's Victory Lap on the Las Vegas Strip as all 16 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup take to the streets with their best burnouts.
Gordon: Win in finale would be bittersweet
Driver offers idea for tweak to Chase scoring system
Matt Tifft lands full-time XFINITY ride with JGR
FORT WORTH, Texas – Looking proud, optimistic and fit, Matt Tifft addressed reporters Friday morning at Texas Motor Speedway to talk about his new job driving a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota full time next year in NASCAR's XFINITY Series. The 20-year old Ohio native, who had a benign brain tumor removed July 1, appeared in the Texas Media Center Friday morning eager to talk about this next important step in his career. And how hard he worked to achieve it, certainly the road less traveled by. "It's an incredible opportunity," Tifft said. "The crazy thing is I remember a couple months ago just coming to Bristol and doing a press conference about just trying to get back in the car [following brain surgery]. "So it's so cool to be sitting here today and announcing plans for next year and being full time. The Joe Gibbs Racing organization was so great through every thing I went through. It's going to be an awesome opportunity to race with them week in and week out." Tifft smiled often as he spoke to reporters about his unpredictable and unconventional season to date. He was as inspiring as he was informational, sharing his very determined path to overcome his health issues and continue to advance his young career in the NASCAR ranks. He candidly discussed some of the extra precautions he takes at the race track, like wearing Surface Sunscreen zinc stick to guard the surgical scar on his head. He recalled down to the minute – 7:51 p.m. – when he came out of surgery to remove the tumor on his brain. RELATED: Tifft tweets upbeat video after brain tumor surgery "They told me I would be there for three or four days just admitted in the hospital and I got through a lot of things and got eating by midnight that night and I remember asking the next morning – I asked the nurse for a checklist of what you need to get out of this hospital," Tifft recalled. "I just wanted to get done with everything, get back to home and instead of waiting three days, I got out less than 24 hours later from brain surgery and that motivation I had ever since then I never thought in my mind that I wasn't going to do this." Turning his part-time 2016 effort into a full-time job next year was always the plan, he said. But clearly, his medical situation became the primary focus before he was given the all clear to pursue a more robust schedule. Tifft returned to NASCAR competition Sept. 16 for a Camping World Truck Series start at Chicagoland Speedway , scoring a 12th-place finish. He earned his first post-surgery top-10 (10th place) at Talladega last month. He has a pair of XFINITY Series starts since his surgery, including a season best fifth place (plus two laps led) at Kentucky Speedway and an eighth place at Charlotte. "When we started this year with the 13-race schedule, in my mind my job was to go out and perform and show that I could race with my teammates and learn as much as I could. But with the ultimate goal of hopefully being able to move into a full-time role. Probably towards the time that it started happening – where that the health issues started to come up – was probably when we first started talking about it and then obviously this stuff kind of got put on the back burner, so, you know, now that we've been able to get back in the car and get some good runs again, that's when we started really seriously talking about it," Tifft said. He grinned widely explaining the most painful thing he's been through recently was watching his hometown Cleveland Indians lose in the World Series this week. He is so hopeful – and grateful – for this opportunity at JGR. For this opportunity in life. What has he learned? "How much I love it," Tifft said. "You know, I think I remember in July probably two or three weeks after surgery and it was incredible to me how much my perspective on life – had changed because, you know, I remember watching races on TV and when I first started going through these things and I had to miss a race for the back issue at Iowa it was like, 'Man, I really want to be out there,' and then I remember sitting at home in July thinking, 'I have no idea, you know, what my future entails for me.' I didn't know – I didn't know if I could drive a street car. "I didn't know when that timeline was going to be. I didn't know if I was going to drive a race car this year, next year, whenever, but, you know, I just definitely kept the faith in myself that I could get back to that point. "That's what kept me motivated the whole time, but without the support of family and friends and that motivation to get back to racing, I don't know how quick my recovery time would have been and obviously it's different for every person. When I had to step out of that car and almost had what I love so much and wanted to do since I was five years old taken away from me, it made me appreciate it so much more that I'm stepping back to that role as a race car driver." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Brian France talks Chase success, diversity efforts
RELATED: France talks business, family at conference HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France reaffirmed his endorsement of stock-car racing's postseason format Sunday, saying he "wouldn't change a thing" about the spirited competition created by the elimination system . France's remarks came Sunday in his annual "State of the Sport" question-and-answer session at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will determine the champion of its premier series. NASCAR adopted the 10-race Chase playoff system for its top division in 2004. After 10 seasons of determining a series champion by cumulative points in the postseason, NASCAR competition officials introduced the current format with three rounds of eliminations and a four-driver championship shootout in the season finale. That format was adopted this year by NASCAR's other two national tours, a move that France said produced worthy champions this weekend in Daniel Suarez ( XFINITY Series) and Johnny Sauter ( Camping World Truck Series). "That's a big deal for auto racing. We're bold enough to do that," France said. "Anywhere in the world, that doesn't always happen. Our drivers have been great because it requires a different mindset to compete at this level. They're up to it. They may have had some reservations early on, but they're up to it, so it's great." France also addressed potential enhancements to the postseason structure, including the notion of greater incentives or rewards for regular-season performance. "I think that's a fair thing for us to consider, to make sure that the regular season is as important as it is," France said. "So I don't know exactly how we'll do that, but we'll look at that." MORE: Suarez makes history " Sauter claims Truck Series title
Captain clutch? Logano embraces 'privilege' of pressure
RELATED: Why Logano will win the title MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Joey Logano 's path to the championship phase of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs this year has highlighted what might be an underrated component of his game. "Clutch -- it's a great word," Logano said with a trademark grin. "I like it." Logano's performance in pivotal situations has given the Team Penske driver another shot at his first title in Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The 26-year-old ace punctuated the last two series of eliminations with a victory in each round's finale, ensuring his place at the championship table. Those postseason achievements are an extension of Logano's overall efforts since the current Chase system was introduced in 2014. In the 29 playoff races since that format took root, Logano has won seven of them -- more than any Sprint Cup driver. "I think that's something that I'm very proud of, to come into high-pressure moments like that and be better under pressure -- and not just me, my whole race team," Logano said Thursday during Championship 4 Media Day activities in Miami Beach. "We've been able to win two races (this year) under those situations and that's something I'm very proud of and very excited for this weekend because it's the same situation, right?" MORE: Top quotes from drivers Logano's results this season suggest that both he and his Team Penske No. 22 Ford group are peaking at the right time. His teammate, Brad Keselowski , won four races in the season's first half, but Logano prevailed just once in the regular season -- at Michigan in June. Logano also qualified for the Championship 4 field in 2014. After some early season setbacks, he wasn't certain this was the year he'd book a return trip. "There was a point in the season that I wasn't sure that we were going to get this far, you know, and we've definitely found a lot of speed in our race cars in both the 2 (Keselowski) and the 22 at Team Penske , and then to the point, it's like, man, we've got something to win this championship," Logano said. "It's a long season. The sport is cyclical. It goes up and down. You're good for a little bit, and the next thing you know you're looking for more and people catch up. It's just part of it." With this year's 35 other events in the rearview, Logano just has to be good for one more race against a stacked championship field, each with their own heavyweight credentials. Kyle Busch will be vying for a repeat Sprint Cup crown. Carl Edwards , like Logano, will be looking for his first title, trying to overcome the heartache of 2011 when he lost the championship in a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart . And Jimmie Johnson will be seeking to cement his place among the sport's immortals with a seventh championship to put his name in the discussion with Earnhardt and Petty. But Logano knows there are plenty of other drivers in the larger 40-car field eager to end the season on a positive note. His assignment for a successful weekend: To finish in front of all of them with the stakes at their highest. "I've got to beat everyone, and that's a pressure that I love," Logano said. "I said before the race last week on the radio, I said, these are the moments we live for. This is what we prepare for every single day. This is what we think about. This is an awesome opportunity, and to embrace that pressure, because there's only four drivers that get that. You know, it's a privilege to have pressure." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;