The NASCAR playoffs as we know them are a series of ten races that culminate with one champion to end the season.
In order to qualify for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, a driver needs to finish the regular season in the top 16 for points accumulated. Points are given out after every regular season race.
Each race has 40 drivers that participate, and the points are awarded in reverse order. This means that the winning driver receives 40 points, the second placed driver receives 35 points, third place gets 34 points, and so on at a decreasing rate until the drivers who finish in 36th-40th place each receive one point for that race.
Each race is made up of three stages. For the first two stages, drivers who win a stage get 10 points with the points going in reverse order for the top 10. The third stage is considered the final race points and that is where the 40 points are given for the winner, as listed above.
Once the playoffs begin the points are reset for the 16 drivers remaining. The points are then reset after each round where four drivers get eliminated.
Playoff points can also be earned in the regular season. Additional points are added for winning a stage or race during the regular season or having the most points at the end of the regular season.
|South Point 400||Las Vegas, NV||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|
|Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond, VA||Richmond Raceway|
|Bank of America ROVAL 400||Charlotte, NC||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Dover||Dover, DE||Dover, DE - Dover International Speedway|
|Hollywood Casino 500||Kansas City, KS||Kansas Speedway|
|1000Bulbs.com 500||Lincoln, AL||Talladega Speedway|
|First Data 500||Ridgeway, VA||Martinsville Speedway|
|AAA Texas 500||Fort Worth, TX||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race||Avondale, AZ||ISM Raceway|
|Ford EcoBoost 400||Homestead, FL||Homestead-Miami Speedway|
16 drivers qualify for the playoffs, and the rounds are split into races of three. After the first three playoff races, the number of playoff drivers is whittled down to 12. After races four through six, the number of playoff drivers then drops to eight. After races seven to nine, the number of playoff drivers remaining is only four. The drivers are eliminated based on their number of playoff points.
The playoffs culminate with the tenth and final race where there are only the remaining four drivers that can win it all. These four drivers are known as the "Championship Four." The Championship Four partake in the final race where there are still 40 drivers total. The first of the four to cross the finish line is crowned the champion for the season.