NASCAR chairman Brian France announced Thursday, NASCAR would undergo some dramatic changes to its playoff format.
The new setup will now rely on one race to determine the NASCAR champion, more or less disregarding the nine-month season and ignoring the 35 point races, USA Today reported.
The Chase grid will expand from 12 drivers to 16 drivers and the best 16 drivers during the 26 race season will qualify for a final round of races, also known as the Chase. The Chase will consist of three Challenger Rounds, where the winner of each race will automatically advance.
The second round of races, called the Contender Round, will consist of the top 12 drivers based on wins and points from the Challenger Round. The Contender Round uses three races to decide the eight drivers to advance to the Eliminator Round. And four drivers from that round will advance to the Championship Event, where the first driver to cross the finish line wins.
The new rules also require that points between each round be reset.
NASCAR fans and drivers havemixed feelings over the new format. Some say the former format had gotten boring and had caused viewership for the sport to decline.
"My opinion, and I think many share the same opinion, is something big needed to happen," six-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson told Fox Sports. "If this doesn't work, I don't know where you go from here."
However, others say the format is not fair because it focuses on winning solely over the points system that has been such a huge part of the sport up until now.
"My simple preference would just be to determine the champion over the course of the whole season," Carl Edwards told reporters at the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour. "The way I understand it, all they want to do is crown a champion that wins races, that drives his guts out and it puts on a really exciting show for everyone. I'm all for that."
The racing star said it would be unfortunate for some bad luck to derail an otherwise promising racing year for top drivers.
"I'd just hate to see some guy have a flat tire or a blown engine or something in a three-race stretch and be knocked out, then come back and dominate at Homestead. I think that would be tough," Edwards said.
According to the Examiner the playoff modification would most likely change many drivers' strategies and lead to a suspenseful final race that is bound to become the "Super Bowl of racing."
France's new format will create a championship finale to the sport which is likely to attract other mainstream sports fans.
"Change and evolution are important," Roger Penske, the most successful team owner in the history of Indy Car racing said to ESPN. "There's no question the sport has to change. We have to attract new people, younger people, into the sport. Some of the things we thought were great many years ago clearly are different."