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NASCAR Cup: third stages shortened for some races

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.


NASCAR is changing the stage lengths for 16 of its 36 Cup Series races in 2020, the sanctioning body announced Wednesday. With the changes, the final (third) stage of each of these 16 races is shorter. The aim of the changes is to increase pit strategy. NASCAR also is reverting back to a rule that races are official at their halfway points. Since the implementation of the stage format, races have been official at the end of their second stages.

Races affected by the change include all track types on the schedule, including the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February. The 2020 edition of the Daytona 500 will be comprised of two 65-lap stages and a 70-lap final stage. Previously, the final stage was 80 laps after a couple of 60-lap stages.

“With the 550 engine package, the fuel mileage was different, and the fuel windows got really tight before this change,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said, as quoted in an NBC Sports article. “All this does is make it so, in the final stage, there is more than a couple of lap options for the whole field to pit, and it gives a little bit more leeway at the end on fuel, should we go into overtime. That’s why the speedway races got changed.”

Changes also affect races at tracks including Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Phoenix Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

“Phoenix, New Hampshire, Dover and Richmond, the goal there was to create some stages that potentially gave us some more strategy options for the crew chiefs,” Miller said. “Typically, those races laid out to where there was no stop necessary in stage one and stage two and a green-flag stop necessary in stage three. These shifts in stage length put us to where there is a need for a green-flag stop in the second and the third stage. Some more strategy options available there.”

NASCAR also explored an option of dividing races into four stages instead of three but decided against that move. The Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the season, at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May is the only race that already includes four stages. That 400-lap race is divided into equal 100-lap stages.

NASCAR still is considering decreasing fuel-cell capacity for road-course races. The Cup Series races on three road courses yearly — Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stage lengths haven’t been set yet for those races, either.

“At the road courses, there’s only one green flag stop that is necessary, and that is in the third stage,” Miller said. “We’re talking about reducing the fuel-cell capacity and creating some stage lengths that again create a green-flag stop in stage two and stage three. Still some work to do there on particulars on the fuel cell and make sure that everything works with the industry. I think we will probably get there.”

Below, is a rundown of stage lengths for races affected by NASCAR’s announced changes (provided by Bob Pockrass via Twitter — @BobPockrass):

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Posted by on January 30, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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