NASCAR: The Monster Energy Cup Playoffs

NASCAR: The Monster Energy Cup Playoffs

Opposite of MLB's World Series or NFL's Super Bowl, the premier event for NASCAR had always been the Daytona 500, which was the opening race of the year. In 2004, NASCAR created a playoff system called the "The Chase for the Nextel Cup". The top 10 drivers (and any additional drivers within 400 points of the leader) by the end of the 26th race would be eligible to compete in a final 10-race chase to determine that season's NASCAR Cup champion. Since then, NASCAR has methodically gone about making adjustments to the Chase concept and this year implemented a new system called the "Playoffs".

Although drivers still have a strong incentive to accumulate points that carry forward through the first nine races of the playoffs, regular season race events are now divided into three stages each. The top 10 drivers in each of the first two segments will score championship points. The race winner gets 40 championship points, second place earns 35, with each succeeding position worth one point less. In addition, the winners of the first two stages earn one playoff point each, and those points are carried forward throughout the first three rounds of the 10-race playoff at the end of the season.

The NASCAR playoffs are split into three rounds of three races each, with the bottom four drivers eliminated after each round. Any driver winning a race in any of the first three rounds automatically advances to the next round, regardless of points. Each race winner also receives five playoff points, which also carry forward until the season-ending Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where points are reset to zero and the highest finishing among the four remaining drivers claims the NASCAR Cup Championship.

Listed below is the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Playoff schedule for 2017:

Round of 16

Chicagoland Speedway - Sept. 17

New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Sept. 24

Dover International Speedway - Oct. 1

Round of 12

Charlotte Motor Speedway - Oct. 8

Talladega Superspeedway - Oct. 15

Kansas Speedway - Oct. 22

Round of 8

Martinsville Speedway - Oct. 29

Texas Motor Speedway - Nov. 5

Phoenix International Raceway - Nov. 12

Championship 4

Homestead-Miami Speedway - Nov. 19