The Chase has been set. The races begin next weekend. Ten races to go and we will have a Sprint Cup Champion for 2012.
This article will give a brief explanation on how the Chase works and how the drivers that made the Chase drove their way into the NASCAR post-season.
Beginning in 2011, NASCAR decided to change the points system used in the Sprint Cup Series.
In an attempt to make the point system easier to understand, it was set that the first place driver would receive 43 points for a win at any racetrack. The last place driver would receive 1 point. This made it much easier for those at home to "keep score" as the races progressed through the season.
NASCAR also changed the bonus points system. If a driver won the race he would be awarded those 43 points. Then he or she would be awarded three bonus points for winning the race, and one point for leading at least one lap. The driver could also earn one more bonus point if he/she led the most laps in the race.
The most points a driver could earn in a race would be 48.
These points are cumulative and would be used at the end of the regular season to set the field for the Chase.
The Chase consists of the top ten drivers and 2 wildcard drivers. The top ten are based solely on points. The two wildcards are based on points and the amount of wins they had in the season.
Once the 12 are set, NASCAR then sets the order of the Chase. This is where the drivers' wins come into play.
For every win you had in the regular season, you get 3 bonus points.
This year, Greg Biffle finished at the top of the leader board with the most points. But because 4 other drivers had more wins than he did, he is seeded 5th.
The opposite was Tony Stewart. He finished tenth in points. But because he had 3 wins he received 9 bonus points, which moved him up to 3rd in the Chase.
So after all the points are counted there is only a twelve point difference between the number 1 driver and the number 12 driver.
Now that the reset has occurred, the last ten races will be scored the same as the first 26. The Chase winner will be the driver with the most points at the end of the last race of the season.
If there is a tie in points the driver with the most wins in the Chase is awarded the Sprint Cup Championship.
The following are the drivers, in Chase order competing this year in the Chase: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Clint Boyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon.
It should be a very exciting Chase. And remember NASCAR's slogan this year, "Everything Else Is Just A Game."