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All the things You Want To Know About NASCAR Stage Breaks


I’ve totally maintained that the NASCAR Cup Sequence is, proper now, one of many few motorsport sequence doing all the pieces properly. The races are aggressive, the Subsequent-Gen automobiles are well-designed items of equipment, and the sequence is seeking to develop its horizons and audiences. There’s only one half that appears to stump folks after I beg them to tune into races: What the hell are “phases,” how do they work, and the way are their lengths decided?

To search out out, we chatted with NASCAR’s Scott Miller. Miller was the previous Senior Vice President of Competitors and has now transitioned into the function of Competitors Strategist — and which means he’s spent loads of time creating and refining the stage racing idea. If anybody may reply my questions, it’d be him.

Elizabeth Blackstock: Would you thoughts beginning by speaking about how the idea of phases got here to be and the way NASCAR defines them at present:

Scott Miller: The idea of phases was born in 2017 as form of an industry-wide collaboration with representatives from our broadcast companions, NASCAR, the groups, and drivers. We had this concept that was needed to create extra “moments” throughout the race, with factors on the road. As an alternative of simply the checkered-flag second on the finish of the race, we may have a number of significant moments [throughout a race] that had been impactful to the entire season.

It has this secondary profit for the broadcasters, too. We take heed to our followers, and one huge grievance was that the tv protection was breaking away from reside motion too continuously. On the finish of the stage, they might get a few of their breaks in, and we must break free from reside motion to go to industrial much less continuously.

EB: For those who had been explaining how phases work to a brand-new fan, what would you say to them?

SM: If somebody requested me that didn’t know something about what we had been doing, I might say that our races are damaged up into three phases. And on the finish of the primary and second stage, the main driver will get a playoff level for successful the stage, and there are season factors awarded to everybody within the prime 10. The third stage concludes with the checkered flag on the race finish.

[Note: In some of NASCAR’s longer races, like the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, races are broken up into four stages. In that instance, the leading driver of the first three stages wins a playoff point, while the top 10 receive regular-season points. The fourth stage concludes the race.]

EB: One of many huge issues I’ve been questioning not too long ago is how stage lengths are decided. I used to be watching [NASCAR] with my husband over the weekend, and I noticed that I knew the stage lengths had modified, however I additionally realized I didn’t know why that change had occurred.

SM: There’s loads of thought that goes into it. Typically, on 1.5-mile tracks, we ensure every stage is lengthy sufficient that the groups can’t make [the full distance] on gas. There must be a pit cease someplace in that stage earlier than the stage itself can come to a conclusion.

The thought course of there’s to create extra technique choices. You possibly can, say, simply do two tires and attempt to get extra stage factors, however that would put you in jeopardy for the subsequent stage. The gas mileage issue creates all these completely different dynamics.

You’ll additionally discover, once we got here out with the Subsequent-Gen automobile, we had a number of races the place the stage lengths had been modified. The gas cell capability on the Subsequent-Gen automobile was completely different than the earlier automobile, so we needed to make some tweaks there.

EB: How early do you identify the stage lengths? Is that one thing you’re deciding when the calendar is shaped, or does it come extra all through the season?

SM: The best way we decide stage lengths is mainly within the rulebook, and we attempt to preserve them fixed earlier than and through a season. We attempt to not change them until now we have to do one thing like change the race size, the way in which we did at Chicago, or if we decided for some purpose that the stage size isn’t working. For instance, if the Las Vegas phases didn’t work for the spring race, we might change them to verify we’re doing the precise factor within the fall.

EB: What about phases works so properly for the drivers, crew chiefs, and followers?

SM: [Drivers and crew chiefs] just like the factors, and the truth that these factors are on the road. Not each stage ends with an excellent thrilling end, however I’d say a overwhelming majority of phases get actually intense towards the tip when these factors are on the road. For followers, I feel these moments make the race extra thrilling.

The groups and drivers, in addition they like amassing stage factors as a result of it impacts their capability to make the playoffs, and it impacts their seeding within the playoffs. These phases have an effect all season lengthy.

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