XFINITY Series Rookies, Veterans Approve of Chase Formatby Kyle Pokrefky January 23, 2016 0 comments
The new Chase format that is to be used in the NASCAR XFINITY Series is receiving praise from both established veterans and newcomers to the series.
Officially rolled out on Tuesday – the opening day of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual Media Tour – the format mirrors the elimination style format used in the Sprint Cup Series, however, it holds some minor differences.
While the Sprint Cup Chase consists of 10 races over four rounds with 16 drivers qualifying for it, the XFINITY version will consist of 12 drivers qualifying for a seven-race Chase comprised of three rounds.
With the addition of the Chase to the XFINITY circuit, the young drivers of the sport that are on their way to the Sprint Cup level will now have knowledge of how to race with the format rather than learning how to points race for a full season, says series veteran Brendan Gaughan.
“It’s definitely a new way to race for XFINITY guys and it’s going to train some of the younger guys how to get ready mindset-wise for the big show,” Gaughan said. “You race for regular points all year long when you run Trucks or XFINITY and then you have to go to Cup and you have to learn how to Chase race. This will help prepare them for that mental toughness.”
Gaughan, driver of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 62 Chevrolet, has voiced his approval of the addition of the Chase to the lower national series.
“Love it, I think it’s phenomenal,” Gaughan stated. “I was ecstatic about the Chase format in 2004 when I drove NEXTEL Cup, the original. I thought that NASCAR’s hit a home run the last two years with this elimination style. It definitely brings excitement back. It gets people back watching NASCAR during football season.
“It has helped our sport a ton and it helps – just like I was mentioning – it helps because now on a Dash 4 Cash format like this I can drive that race for the $100,000 – I don’t have to necessarily hold anything back and save the points for later. I can go to Richmond and drive it completely different than I have.”
Brandon Jones, a rookie in the XFINITY Series and Gaughan’s teammate, believes that the format puts XFINITY newcomers on the same level as the veterans towards the end of the season.
With the young drivers of the series adjusting to a learning curve throughout the season, the addition of the Chase provides a nice equalizer for them that’ll even the playing field.
“I think the biggest thing is going to be the new format in the Chase,” Jones noted. “I think that’s actually going to play into our favor a little bit. It’s going to bring some of the guys that have been doing this awhile back down to our level as far as the points standings and the strategy that’ll go into that.”
Ty Dillon, who enters his third consecutive full-time XFINITY campaign, approves of the new format’s ‘all or nothing’ mindset and believes it will be exciting for both fans and competitors alike.
“I think in the past running for championships and being so close the last couple of years, I think the mindset of the top-three guys in the past couple of years – and I feel they would say the same thing – in the races where they weren’t very good was to just survive and to beat the guys they knew they would be racing for the championship when it comes down to Homestead,” Dillon stated. “This year, there’s going to be none of that, it’s going to be all or nothing trying to win the race to get locked into the Chase and then you reset and you go for it there. It’s the all or nothing attitude that I’m excited about.”
The NASCAR XFINITY Series season is set to get underway at Daytona International Speedway with the PowerShares QQQ 300 on Saturday, February 20th.
Photo Credit: Kena Krutsinger/NASCAR via Getty Images