Piala Nextel

The Sprint Cup trophy is presented to the champion after the Ford EcoBoost 400.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup,[1] originally known as "The Chase for the Championship"[2] during its creation, and then "The Chase for the Nextel Cup" (from 2004 to 2007) is the championship system used in NASCAR's top division, the Sprint Cup Series, akin to the postseason in American professional sports leagues. The Chase was announced on January 21, 2004, and first used during the 2004 Nextel Cup season. The format used from 2004 to 2006 was modified slightly starting with the 2007 season. Beginning with the 2008 Sprint Cup Series, the Chase became known by its new name as a result of the merger of Nextel Communications with Sprint Corporation. A major change to the qualifying criteria was instituted in 2011, along with a major change to the points system. As of 2011, the 10-race Chase pits the 10 drivers with the highest "regular season" points, plus the two drivers ranked between 11th and 20th in regular season points who have the most race wins, against each other, while racing in the standard field of 43 cars. The driver with the most points after the final 10 races is declared the champion.

Cup champions (under Chase system)Edit

YearChampionTeamWinsTop 5Top 10
2004 Kurt Busch Roush Racing 1 6 9
2005 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing 5 8 10
2006 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 2 7 8
2007 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 4 6 7
2008 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 3 5 7
2009 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 4 7 9
2010 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 1 7 9
2011 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing 5 6 8
2012 Brad Keselowski Penske Racing 2 3 8
2013 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 2 7 9

Seeding and scoringEdit

The current version of the Chase was announced by NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France on January 26, 2011.[3] The current format marks a major change from the previous format announced January 22, 2007, which in turn modified the original Chase format announced on January 21, 2004. The 2011 change marks the 13th time since 1949 that the point system has been changed.[2]

2004 – 2006Edit

Starting in the 2004 season, after the first 26 races of the season, all drivers in the Top 10 and any others within 400 points of the leader will earn a berth in the Chase. All drivers in the Chase will have their point total adjusted. The first-place driver in the standings begins the chase with 5,050 points; the second-place driver starts with 5,045, etc. Incremental five-point drops continue through the list of title contenders.

2007 – 2010Edit

In 2007, NASCAR expanded the field of contenders to the top 12 drivers in the points standings after the first 26 races. Each drivers' point total reset to 5,000 points, with a ten point bonus for each race won. The provision letting all drivers within 400 points of the leader was dropped.

Brian France explained why NASCAR made the changes to the chase:

"The adjustments taken [Monday] put a greater emphasis on winning races. Winning is what this sport is all about. Nobody likes to see drivers content to finish in the top 10. We want our sport – especially during the Chase – to be more about winning."

2011 – presentEdit

The Chase format was again modified for the 2011 season, as was the point system for winnings. After 26 "regular season" races, the top 10 drivers, as determined by points accumulated during the season, automatically advance to contend for the Cup championship. These drivers are joined by two "wild card" qualifiers, specifically the two drivers ranked from 11th through 20th in drivers' points who have the most regular-season race wins. The 12 drivers' championship points are reset to a base of 2,000 per driver. Each of the 10 automatic qualifiers receives a bonus of 3 points for each win during the regular season, while the two wild card qualifiers receive no bonus. Normal scoring applies during the Chase, with race winners earning 43 base points plus 3 bonus points, all drivers who lead a lap earning 1 bonus point, and the driver who leads the most laps earning 1 bonus point in addition to any other points earned.[4]

As in all previous Chases, the driver with the highest point total at the conclusion of the 10-race Chase is the Sprint Cup champion.


The Chase field has always consisted of 12 drivers since the 2007 rule changes. An exception to this rule was in 2013, where the Chase field was expanded to 13 drivers for that season only as the result of the Singapore Sling match fixing scandal. With seven laps remaining in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Clint Bowyer went into a spin, forcing a caution. After the race, rumors abounded that Bowyer had deliberately forced a caution in an attempt to manipulate the finish of the race so as to help his Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) teammate Martin Truex, Jr. clinch the second of the two Wild Card spots (Kasey Kahne had already clinched the first spot) over Ryan Newman, who had been leading at the moment of caution. That Bowyer's spin had been deliberate had been further suggested by several things: the first was radio communications on Brian Vickers' team with his spotter, MWR general manager Ty Norris, telling him to pit under green on the restart, and that the audio on Bowyer's radio showed crew chief Brian Pattie pointing out Newman taking the lead and then asking a suspicious string of questions mere seconds before Bowyer spun. Furthermore, when interviewed by Dr. Jerry Punch post-race, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was directly behind Bowyer, said that Bowyer "just spun out. It was the craziest thing I saw," and that the behavior of Bowyer's car was inconsistent with Bowyer's claim that a right front tire blew out. Vickers' pitting on the restart forced Newman to the back of the pitting cycle, costing him several positions. He ended up finishing third to Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch. By finishing third, Newman was tied with Truex in both wins (one) and final points for the second Wildcard spot. Truex won the tiebreaker on top-five finishes.

The following Monday, September 9, NASCAR issued some of the most severe penalties imposed on a team in Sprint Cup history. MWR was placed on probation for the rest of the season, and Norris was suspended indefinitely. All three MWR teams were docked 50 owner/driver points for "actions detrimental to stock car racing." As this penalty was applied to pre-Chase point totals, it knocked Truex out of the Wildcard spot and put Newman in in his place. NASCAR was unable to find solid evidence that Bowyer's spin was deliberate, but did determine that Norris's order to have Vickers pit was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the Chase standings in Truex's favor. Had the ruse not happened, Newman was on point to win the race, automatically becoming the second wild card and bumping Truex.

The ruse also resulted in a second controversy when radio transmissions were discovered suggesting that Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing had struck a deal for David Gilliland to give up a spot on the track for Joey Logano, allowing Logano to race his way into the final lock-in position by one point over Jeff Gordon. A second NASCAR inquiry resulted in both teams being placed on probation for the remainder of the year. This ruse was found to have been directly caused by the Safety Car. Had the Safety Car situation for Bowyer's intentional spin not occurred, Gordon would have finished ahead of Logano by one point and Logano would have been bumped by Newman winning the race since Newman would have taken the first Wild Card. Although Logano was allowed to keep his Chase berth, the field was expanded to 13 with the addition of Gordon on September 13. NASCAR chairman Brian France has always had the power to expand the Chase field in exceptional circumstances, and decided to invoke it in this case. In France's view, Gordon had been put at an "unfair disadvantage" due to Penske and Front Row's collusion, as well as MWR's improper instructions to have Vickers pit. Had this not happened, France said, Gordon would have been in the Chase by taking the last lock-in position, while Logano would have received one Wild Card position due to him being ahead of Truex and Newman in points, and Kasey Kahne would have taken the other Wild Card regardless of the race outcome as he had two wins entering Richmond.[5]

Origins of the ChaseEdit

The publicly stated purpose for the NASCAR Chase system was to make the NASCAR mid-season more competitive, and increase fan interest and television ratings. The timing coincides with the commencement of the college and National Football League seasons. Prior to the Chase format, the Cup champion was often determined mathematically long before the end of the NASCAR season; a situation that still exists in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which does not have a Chase system.

By resetting and compressing the scoring of the top 10 drivers, the chances of each of those ten drivers winning the championship was increased, while not precluding anyone with a legitimate chance of winning (based on the historical analysis that no driver outside the top 10, with 10 races remaining in the season, has ever gone on to win the Championship).[2]

Short track racing, the grassroots of NASCAR, began experimenting with ideas to help the entry-level racer. In 2001, the United Speed Alliance Racing organization, sanctioning body of the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, a short-track stock car touring series, devised a five-race system where the top teams in their Hooters ProCup North and Hooters ProCup South divisions would participate in a five-race playoff, the Four Champions, named for the four Hooters Racing staff members (including 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki) and pilot killed in an April 1, 1993 plane crash in Blountville, Tennessee. The system organized the teams with starting points based on the team's performance in their division (division champions earn a bonus), and the teams would participate in a five-race playoff. The five races, added to the team's seeding points, would determine the winner. The 2001 version was four races, as one was canceled because of the September 11 terrorist attacks; however, NASCAR watched as the ProCup's Four Champions became a success and drivers from the series began looking at NASCAR rides. The idea was to give NASCAR, which was becoming in many areas the fourth-largest sport (after Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and surpassing in some regions the NHL) attention during baseball's road to the World Series and the outset of the pro and college football, NHL and NBA seasons.

"The Matt Kenseth rule"Edit

The Chase has been referred to as "the Matt Kenseth Rule" as a result of Kenseth's championship in the final year of the series with Winston sponsorship in 2003, the year prior to NASCAR adopting the Chase system and Nextel becoming the namesake sponsor. In 2003, Kenseth won the then-Winston Cup series championship despite winning only one race (that being the third race of the year in Las Vegas Motor Speedway) but ending the season with 25 top-ten finishes. In contrast, Ryan Newman won eight races that year (22% of the 36 races run in 2003), but finished sixth in points due to DNFs from crashes. In truth, "the Matt Kenseth Rule" more properly refers to the NASCAR numerical scoring system also implemented for the 2004 season, which increased the points awarded to race winners, thus emphasizing winning in addition to consistency. NASCAR acknowledged that the 2003 championship outcome was not the driving factor in establishment of the Chase, as NASCAR had been researching methods to adjust the points system to put more emphasis on winning races since 2000. However, the coincidence of the commencement of the new format in 2004 and Kenseth's 2003 championship linked the issues, and were even referred to by NASCAR officials in the interviews and press releases following the announcement of the new format.

Chase for the Sprint Cup tracksEdit

The following are the ten race tracks at which the final ten Chase for the Sprint Cup races are run. Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth, Texas) was added in 2005 as a result of outcome of the Ferko lawsuit. Prior to this suit, the final three races of the NASCAR season, and thus, the final three race tracks for The Chase, were held at Phoenix International Raceway (Avondale, Arizona), Darlington Raceway (Darlington, South Carolina, eliminated by NASCAR as a result of the lawsuit), and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Homestead, Florida). Also, by way of a 3-way track change, Talladega Superspeedway moved to a later date, Atlanta Motor Speedway moved to the Labor Day weekend date, and Auto Club Speedway moved to a later date inside the Chase (starting 2009).[6]

In 2011, as part of a substantial schedule realignment, a number of further changes occurred in the Chase:[7]

Chicagoland SpeedwayJoliet, IL-------111
New Hampshire Motor SpeedwayLoudon, NH1111111222
Dover International SpeedwayDover, DE2222222333
Kansas SpeedwayKansas City, KS4433333464
Charlotte Motor SpeedwayConcord, NC5555555555
Talladega SuperspeedwayTalladega, AL3344477646
Martinsville SpeedwayRidgeway, VA6666666777
Texas Motor SpeedwayFort Worth, TX-888888888
Phoenix International RacewayAvondale, AZ8999999999
Homestead-Miami SpeedwayHomestead, FL10101010101010101010
Atlanta Motor SpeedwayHampton, GA77777-----
Auto Club SpeedwayFontana, CA-----44---
Darlington RacewayDarlington, SC9---------
  • The North Carolina track was known as Lowe's Motor Speedway from 1999 to 2009. After the 2009 season, Lowe's chose not to renew its sponsorship contract, causing the track to revert to its original name of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Comparisons of formats of the ChaseEdit

The Chase for the Nextel Cup was created in 2004 by NASCAR when Nextel started to sponsor the series. In the original version of the Chase, following the 26th race of the season, all drivers in the top 10 and any others within 400 points of the leader got a spot in the 10-race season conclusion. Like the current system, drivers in the Chase had their point totals adjusted. However, it was based on the number of points at the conclusion of the 26th race. The first-place driver in the standings led with 5,050 points; the second-place driver started with 5,045. Incremental five-point drops continued through 10th place with 5,005 points. In addition, drivers received 180 points for winning a race, 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and 5 bonus for leading a single lap.

The current points system implemented in 2011 determines The Chase by selecting the top 10 drivers points positions followed by 2 additional drivers with the most wins in points positions 11 through 20 after 26 races. These 12 drivers have their points set to 2000; the top 10 drivers are given 3 bonus points for each win they had during the first 26 races.

2004 to 2010 results under the 2011 systemEdit

Actual Winner in Bold.

2004: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Jimmie Johnson 2372 2nd
2nd Kurt Busch 2372 1st
3rd Jeff Gordon 2366 3rd

2005: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Tony Stewart 2378 1st
2nd Carl Edwards 2374 3rd
3rd Greg Biffle 2369 2nd

2006: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Jimmie Johnson 2357 1st
2nd Tony Stewart 2355 11th
3rd Matt Kenseth 2352 2nd

2007: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Jimmie Johnson 2430 1st
2nd Jeff Gordon 2413 2nd
3rd Clint Bowyer 2336 3rd

2008: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Jimmie Johnson 2418 1st
2nd Carl Edwards 2396 2nd
3rd Greg Biffle 2362 3rd

2009: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Jimmie Johnson 2405 1st
2nd Mark Martin 2374 2nd
3rd Jeff Gordon 2366 3rd

2010: post at

Position (2011 System) Driver Points (2011 System) Actual Position
1st Jimmie Johnson 2403 1st
2nd Denny Hamlin 2398 2nd
3rd Kevin Harvick 2396 3rd

2006 Chase contenders and seedings in 2006 and 2007 systemsEdit

Old Points System – 2006 Pre Chase Seedings

Place Points Driver
1st 5050 Matt Kenseth
2nd 5045 Jimmie Johnson
3rd 5040 Kevin Harvick
4th 5035 Kyle Busch
5th 5030 Denny Hamlin
6th 5025 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
7th 5020 Mark Martin
8th 5015 Jeff Burton
9th 5010 Jeff Gordon
10th 5005 Kasey Kahne

Old Points System – 2006 Pre Chase Seedings, using 2007 format

Place Points Driver Wins
1st 5050 Kasey Kahne 5
T-2nd 5040 Matt Kenseth 4
Jimmie Johnson
4th 5030 Kevin Harvick 3
T-5th 5020 Tony Stewart 2
Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
T-8th 5010 Kyle Busch 1
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Greg Biffle
T-11th 5000 Mark Martin 0
Jeff Burton

The most evident shift in the Chase seeding which reflects the emphasis on winning of the 2007 format, is Kasey Kahne who, under the 2006 system entered the Chase in 10th place, with 5000 points. Had the 2007 format been in place in 2006, Kahne's 5 wins would have placed him first in the Chase seeding.

Non-Chase system championsEdit


Template:Unreferenced section The Chase format has taken some criticism. First, manyTemplate:Who are upset that the driver leading the points before the re-adjustment often loses the points lead with the most recent format. SomeTemplate:Who would like to see the "regular season champion" get some kind of reward. Also, many have criticized the tracks of which the Chase is held, most notably the fact that four of the ten races are held at intermediate (1.5 mile) tracks, yet no races are held at the road courses of Sonoma and Watkins Glen. SomeTemplate:Who also criticize the inclusion of Talladega in the chase; as a restrictor plate track, Talladega is too unpredictable and too dangerous for inclusion in the chase. Others have noted that the current races (with a couple exceptions due to NASCAR Realignment and a lawsuit) only got Chase races as they were the ten races at the end of the schedule when the format was adopted (the original format had two classic races, Atlanta in the fall and the prestigious fourth major, the Mountain Dew Southern 500, moved to November, instead of new races in Fontana and Texas as currently on the schedule). Another criticism was that most of the tracks were the tracks that Jimmie Johnson had the best finishing record (even though Johnson was only a third-year driver when the Chase began, of Johnson's Chase wins, he has won nine different Chase races since the Chase began – Dover, Kansas, Fontana, Charlotte, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix, and former Chase races in Atlanta and Darlington), thus giving Johnson an unfair advantage. Critics would like to see the races rotate year-to-year, similar to the Super Bowl venue.

Driver appearances in the ChaseEdit

As of the 2013 Ford EcoBoost 400
  • Green = In the 2013 Chase
  • Bold = Retired or no longer a full-time competitor
  • Make, number and team in most recent Chase appearance
Rank Driver Times Best Finish First Year Manufacturer Template:Tooltip Team Template:Tooltip Top 5 Top 10 Races
1 Johnson, JimmieJimmie Johnson 10 1st 2004 Chevrolet 48 Hendrick Motorsports 24 56 74 100
2 Gordon, JeffJeff Gordon 9 2nd 2004 Chevrolet 24 Hendrick Motorsports 5 37 60 100
3 Kenseth, MattMatt Kenseth 9 2nd 2004 Toyota 20 Joe Gibbs Racing 6 35 47 100
4 Stewart, TonyTony Stewart 8 1st 2004 Chevrolet 14 Stewart Haas Racing 11 26 46 90
5 Busch, KurtKurt Busch 7 1st 2004 Chevrolet 78 Furniture Row Racing 3 20 42 98
6 Edwards, CarlCarl Edwards 7 2nd 2005 Ford 99 Roush Fenway Racing 8 32 51 99
7 Hamlin, DennyDenny Hamlin 7 2nd 2006 Toyota 11 Joe Gibbs Racing 6 24 42 87
8 Harvick, KevinKevin Harvick 7 3rd 2006 Chevrolet 29 Richard Childress Racing 5 20 56 100
9 Biffle, GregGreg Biffle 6 2nd 2005 Ford 16 Roush Fenway Racing 7 28 43 100
10 Busch, KyleKyle Busch 6 4th 2006 Toyota 18 Joe Gibbs Racing 1 27 41 92
11 Earnhardt, Jr., DaleDale Earnhardt, Jr. 6 5th 2004 Chevrolet 88 Hendrick Motorsports 2 18 35 98
12 Bowyer, ClintClint Bowyer 5 2nd 2007 Toyota 15 Michael Waltrip Racing 5 17 44 80
13 Newman, RyanRyan Newman 5 6th 2004 Chevrolet 39 Stewart Haas Racing 2 16 38 100
14 Martin, MarkMark Martin 4 2nd 2004 Chevrolet 5 Hendrick Motorsports 2 20 33 88
15 Kahne, KaseyKasey Kahne 4 4th 2006 Chevrolet 5 Hendrick Motorsports 2 24 36 100
16 Burton, JeffJeff Burton 4 6th 2006 Chevrolet 31 Richard Childress Racing 2 15 34 100
17 Keselowski, BradBrad Keselowski 2 1st 2011 Dodge 2 Penske Racing 3 9 20 48
18 Mayfield, JeremyJeremy Mayfield 2 9th 2004 Dodge 19 Evernham Motorsports 0 1 5 27
19 Truex, Jr., MartinMartin Truex, Jr. 2 11th 2007 Toyota 56 Michael Waltrip Racing 0 8 28 85
20 Wallace, RustyRusty Wallace 1 8th 2005 Dodge 2 Penske Racing 0 1 6 20
21 Montoya, Juan PabloJuan Pablo Montoya 1 8th 2009 Chevrolet 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing 0 6 11 71
22 Logano, JoeyJoey Logano 1 8th 2013 Ford 22 Penske Racing 0 9 17 53
23 Sadler, ElliottElliott Sadler 1 9th 2004 Ford 38 Robert Yates Racing 0 1 12 74
24 Vickers, BrianBrian Vickers 1 12th 2009 Toyota 83 Team Red Bull 1 4 12 74

Non-Chase drivers to win a Chase raceEdit

As of the 2013 season, 100 Chase events have been raced. Of these, 18 of the Chase races were won by drivers who were not in the Chase for the Sprint Cup that year (drivers shown in pink have never been Chase participants).

# Season Driver Team Race Track
1 2004 Joe Nemechek MBV Motorsports Banquet 400 Kansas Speedway
2 2004 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Ford 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway
3 2005 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing UAW-Ford 500 Talladega Superspeedway
4 2005 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Subway 500 Martinsville Speedway
5 2005 Kyle Busch Hendrick Motorsports Checker Auto Parts 500 Phoenix International Raceway
6 2006 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Banquet 400 Kansas Speedway
7 2006 Brian Vickers Hendrick Motorsports UAW-Ford 500 Talladega Superspeedway
8 2006 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Bass Pro Shops 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway
9 2006 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Dickies 500 Texas Motor Speedway
10 2006 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Ford 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway
11 2007 Greg Biffle Roush Racing LifeLock 400 Kansas Speedway
12 2009 Jamie McMurray Roush Fenway Racing AMP Energy 500 Talladega Superspeedway
13 2010 Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Bank of America 500 Charlotte Motor Speedway
14 2011 Clint Bowyer Richard Childress Racing Good Sam Club 500 Talladega Superspeedway
15 2011 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Racing Team Kobalt Tools 500 Phoenix International Raceway
16 2013 Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Bank of America 500 Charlotte Motor Speedway
17 2013 Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Camping World RV Sales 500 Talladega Superspeedway
18 2013 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Ford EcoBoost 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway

See alsoEdit


  1. Sporting News Wire Service (February 7, 2008). "Predicting the 2008 Chase for the Cup champ?". Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "New playoff structure announced". January 20, 2004. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  3. Changes for 2011 include emphasis on winning – Jan 26, 2011 (Press release). NASCAR. November 28, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  4. "10-race Chase for the Cup crowns series champ". NASCAR 101. NASCAR. January 28, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  5. "Jeff Gordon added to Chase after NASCAR investigation"
  6. AMS to swap dates with Auto Club SpeedwayTemplate:Dead link
  7. 2011 NASCAR Schedule (Press release). NASCAR. August 18, 2010. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  8. "Races – Standings". Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  9. "Races – Standings". Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  10. "Nascar.Com". Nascar.Com. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  11. "Nascar.Com". Nascar.Com. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  12. "Nascar.Com". Nascar.Com. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  13. "Nascar.Com". Nascar.Com. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  14. "Nascar.Com". Nascar.Com. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  15. "2011 Ford 400". November 20, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  16. "2012 Ford EcoBoost 400". November 18, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  17. "UNOFFICIAL 2013 Sprint Cup Driver Championship Points Standings without Chase". Jayski. November 17, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 

External linksEdit


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