The only constant in NASCAR is change, whether it’s teams changing manufacturers or tracks changing surfaces. Its seems like every few years or so, the sport is shaken up. Well.. This is one if those years. Here’s six changes you can expect in the upcoming NASCAR season.
Title sponsor change
Ever since 2004, The premier series of NASCAR has been sponsored by Sprint/Nextel. However, that all changes this year. Sprint have discontinued their sponsorship of the series, and Monster Energy has signed on to become the third ever title sponsor of the “Cup” series. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, as it will be called, will be plastered over every car, hauler, and firesuit in town.
Stewart Haas Racing’s shock switch to Ford.
Ok, maybe its not a shock as of now, unless you live under a rock, but it sure confused many people when Gene Haas announced his Bow-Tie aligned, multiple championship winning team would be switching to the blue ovals in 2017. With the departure of Tony Stewart due to his retirement, the lineup for the team will consist of Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, and newcomer Clint Bowyer.
Speaking of Tony Stewart and his decision to retire from NASCAR, there were a couple of surprising retirees to join him on the sidelines. The first, and definitely the most shocking was Carl Edwards, the man that could have, would have, and let’s face it, should have won the championship last year. His announcement was even more confusing considering he drove for the most dominant team in NASCAR for the past two years. Another retirement from the end of last year was Brian Scott, after just one season with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Top Notch Rookie Class
If you think last years rookie class with Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney was fun to watch, this year should be spectacular. Erik Jones, Ty Dillon, and reigning (but not defending) Xfinity series champion Daniel Suarez will contest for rookie of the year honors this year.
This year also brings changes to many tracks. Both Atlanta and Texas are scheduled to repave their surfaces this year. Atlanta will get fresh pavement after the March race, while Texas has already begun reconfiguring its track, Widening and flattening turns 1 and 2. Meanwhile, Phoenix is modernizing its facilities and moving the start/finish line to just before the the dogleg, a risky move indeed.
Perhaps the biggest change this year is to the race and points formats, with races divided into three segments and points handed out at the end if the first two. The leader will get 10 points, second will get 9 points, and so on. As confusing as all of the changes for this year are, they will certainly make the racing interesting, to say the least. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the 2017 NASCAR season.
We would like to say a special thank you to Kenneth Brown for writing this article!