This weekend, Chicagoland Speedway will be hosting NASCAR and will include a full schedule that has all three series taking part. In addition, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series playoffs start this weekend. The playoffs for the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck series will start the following weekend. Several drivers are in contention for the championship and if the race to get into the playoffs was anything to go by the race for the championship should be brilliant. Action starts on Friday when the Monster Energy Cup series and Xfinity series will be on the track for practice.

The Camping World Truck series will kick off the start of official racing Friday night. As the battle for the championship in NASCAR’s big leagues start there are a few things you need to know.

The basics of the race for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Championship

First and foremost, when it comes to the playoffs of NASCAR’s biggest series, it is important to know how things will be set up. After all, to quote Roger Penske, “first you have to finish to finish first” so it is necessary to know what the structure of the playoffs is and more importantly, how does a driver win.

Each driver who has qualified has won a race during the regular season or has earned enough points to be part of the championship chase.

To win the championship now, however, a driver has to do just that, they have to win. They have to be the first one to cross the line as much as possible in the remaining races. There will be 16 drivers participating and four rounds of racing for them to participate in. There will be cut off races where drivers are eliminated until there remain only four drivers in contention for the championship at the final race in Homestead, FL.

There are some new additions to the rules for the playoffs

The second thing it’s necessary to know about the NASCAR Monster Energy series playoffs is what has changed since last year. The answer to that question would be the points. How a driver earns points during the playoffs is different this season than in seasons past. Throughout the course of the regular season drivers have been earning playoff points and now is the time they will use them.

The point procedure is the same for all series to add clarity and minimize confusion. The point structure will go as follows:

  • A win in the regular season championship: 15 playoff points
  • A win in a playoff race: 5 points
  • A win in Stage one or two in a race: 1 playoff point.

Drivers who are in contention for the championship will continue to earn points during the playoff portion of the season; however, drivers that are not in contention will not do so. If a driver has points they have earned during the regular season but are not in contention for the championship their points are eliminated.

As NASCAR rolls into Chicagoland and the playoffs for the Monster Energy series begin, so does a new chapter in the book of NASCAR.

Despite much contention and complaining at the beginning of the season about the points structure and adding stages to the race, few could complain about the higher quality of racing that the season has produced. Now as drivers and teams head into the actual championship fans will have an opportunity to really see what the top drivers have to offer. If the pre-playoff season is anything to judge by it’s going to be a wild and fast ride.