NASCAR Cup: stages set for Daytona International Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Pocono Raceway
Denny Hamlin takes the checkered flag at Watkins Glen International in 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Under the new format for races in all three of NASCAR’s national series — Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck — race distances will be broken into stages. Stage lengths have been revealed for a handful of races.
The seasons for all three series open at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, with the Truck Series running its opener on Feb. 24, the Xfinity Series on Feb. 25, and the weekend culminating with the running of the Daytona 500 Cup Series opener on Feb. 26.
The Daytona 500 full distance of 200 laps will be divided into stages of 60, 60 and 80 laps. Those won’t be the only Daytona stages for Daytona 500 competitors, though, as the 150-mile Duel races on Feb. 23 also will each count as race stages. For the Duel races, though, playoff points will not be awarded, only regular season, or championship, points for the top-10 finishers in each Duel.
For the 300-mile/120-lap Xfinity Series season-opener at Daytona, the first two stages will be 30 laps apiece, with the entire second half, or 60 laps, of the race comprising the final stage. The Truck Series race at Daytona, 250 miles/100 laps in distance will be divided into stages of 20, 20 and 60 laps.
NASCAR also announced stage lengths for races at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Both the Xfinity and Cup series race at The Glen in August. For the 82-lap Xfinity race, the first two stages will be 20 laps, apiece, while the final stage will be 42 laps. Similarly, the first two stages of the Cup race at The Glen will be 20 laps each, but the final stage will be 50 laps in length, bringing the total race distance to 90 laps.
“The new stage-based format is going to further drive excitement and close racing at Watkins Glen International,” WGI President Michael Printup said. “Finishes at The Glen have been historically exciting for our great fans, especially in recent years, and we can’t wait to see what these changes do for the competition, here.”
The Cup Series runs twice yearly at Pocono, both times running 400-mile races. With mirroring lengths, both those races will have similar formats, with the first two stages of each race comprised of 40 laps apiece, and the second half of the race comprising the final stage.
“We are excited to be part of such collaboration and enhance both the race and fan experience,” Pocono Raceway President and CEO Brandon Igdalsky said. “This new format will now create three winning moments instead of one and should lead to some incredible racing.”
Stage lengths for the Xfinity Series race and Camping World Truck Series race at Pocno have not yet been determined.