Report: NASCAR considering major changes to Chase format

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Updated: 1/18 11:17 am

Charlotte, NC ( - NASCAR is planning an overhaul to the Chase playoff format and the points system for its Sprint Cup Series this upcoming season, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.

The newspaper cited multiple sources briefed on the plan this week.

NASCAR reportedly will increase the Chase field from 12 drivers to 16, but a round of eliminations would take place after the third, sixth and ninth race of the 10-race Chase, setting up a winner-takes-all among four drivers in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In regards to a Chase field expanding to 16, a win during the 26-race regular season, which begins with the Feb. 23 Daytona 500, would virtually assure a driver to qualify for the Chase. If there were more than 16 winners during the regular season, then the 16 drivers with the most wins and highest in points would make the playoff field.

"NASCAR has begun the process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format," NASCAR chief communications officer Brett Jewkes said in a statement. "This dialogue is the final phase of a multi-year process that has included the review of extensive fan research, partner and industry feedback and other data-driven insights.

"NASCAR has no plans to comment further until the stakeholder discussions are complete. We hope to announce any potential changes for the 2014 season to our media and fans very soon."

Earlier this month, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France addressed the issue of the current Chase format and the points system for its premier series during an interview on the Motor Racing Network radio program "NASCAR Live."

"We are not satisfied that we have the exact balance we want with winning, consistency, points, running for a championship," France said on the program. "We think we can make some tweaks to continue to incentivize risk-taking and racing harder."

NASCAR has used a playoff format to determine the Cup championship since 2004.

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