Senior staff writer
NASCAR’s new race format and playoff system is supposed to end the boredom of previous years.
Events in all three series will have three segments with championship and bonus points awarded – that’s about all fans need to know. The 16 drivers in the playoff keep their bonus points for the same eliminations as in The Chase, a term that no longer is to be used.
The final segment in each race will be the longest segment. The Daytona 500 has segments of 60, 60 and 80 laps; the Brickyard 400 has 45, 45 and 70 laps.
The first two segments may end under caution, but the race itself may end under green-white-checker, if necessary.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. commented, “I think that for all the folks that have been asking us to get rid of The Chase for years, this is a great day for them.”
A 26-race champion will be honored and top-10 drivers will receive points.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin said, “Every lap of every race matters.”
A marketing guru
Danica Patrick has an autobiography, “Danica--Crossing the Line,” a new line of athleisure called Warrior by Danica Patrick, an acclaimed diet and exercise program, a desire to write a recipe book and has appeared in photos in health and sports publications.
At the NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, Patrick emphasized, “The things I’ve done outside of racing ... that all really is happening because of racing.”
Her newest venture is a line of leggings, joggers, hoodies and jackets that began with a discussion with G3 reps to find ways to enhance her NASCAR apparel sales at Cup events.
The former IndyCar veteran is a Cup teammate of Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and team newcomer Clint Bowyer at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Patrick is gearing up to improve her results with SHR, a team that has switched from Chevy to Ford and is building its chassis in house. She was a disappointing 24th in points last year but posted the best average finish of her career.
And team attorneys are trying to obtain sponsorship monies owed by her prime sponsor, Nature’s Bakery. SHR claims they are owed more than $15 million and has filed a $31 million breach of contract lawsuit.
Meanwhile, three associate sponsors on her No. 10 Ford are expected to take up the slack.
“A few years back we were really strong, and I felt like that’s where I was running by the end of the year was up in the top 15,” Patrick said. “So hopefully we can get back to that and work from there. The goal is to do better all the time.”
Dates to remember
Events at Daytona: Saturday, Advance Auto Parts Clash, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1; Sunday, Daytona 500 qualifying, Fox, 3:10 p.m.; Feb. 23, Twin Duel 150s, 7 p.m., FS1; Feb. 24, NASCAR Camping World Truck 250, 7:30 p.m., FS1; Feb. 25, NASCAR Xfinity 300, 3:30 p.m.; Feb. 26, Daytona 500, 2 p.m., Fox.