The NHRA has announced a new multi-tiered “Countdown to the Championship” (sound familiar?) in all four professional categories of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The new format will feature three distinct periods during the 23-race season when competitors will be eliminated from the championship hunt, in a playoff-style format.
NHRA President Tom Compton announced the change today, saying, “more competitors will have a chance to win an NHRA POWERade World Championship than ever before. This change will add more excitement and drama to the entire season, and magnify the spotlight during the season’s final six races.”
In the first 17 races – known as the “Countdown to Eight” – racers will compete to be part of the top eight in points. Those eight will then take part in a four-race playoff series, trimming the field to four drivers, who will race for NHRA POWERade World Championship.
The final race in the regular season will be the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway on August 16th through 19th. After that event, the Top Eight in each category will have their points adjusted; with the point leader beginning with 2,070 points; second place beginning with 2,060 points…down to eighth place with 2,000 points. The “Countdown to Four” begins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend, and ends with the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park on October 5th through 7th.
Following that race, the “Countdown to One” begins, and the top four in each category will have their points adjusted yet again. First place will begin the final two races with 3,030 points; second place with 3,020 points; third place with 3,010 points and fourth place with 3,000 points. The final two races of the season will be the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 18th through 24th, followed by the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 1st through 4th, where the champions will be crowned.
“Traditionally, prior to the final six races of the season, only a few teams still have a shot at winning a POWERade World Championship,” said Compton. “Under this new program, eight teams in each professional category will have a legitimate chance to win.”
No team has ever come from outside the Top Eight with six races remaining to win the NHRA POWERade World Championship under the current point system.
Beginning next year, the NHRA POWERade World Champions in Top Fuel and Funny Car will receive a $100,000 Countdown Bonus; making the POWERade World Championship worth a total of $500,000 in each category. In Pro Stock, the Champion will receive a Countdown Bonus of $50,000, making the total payout $250,000. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Countdown Bonus will be $25,000, for a total payout of $75,000. NHRA will also increase the total year-end payouts for the Top Eight in each professional categories to more than $2 million.