Tha Sports Junkies 101

Off Season Changes Bring Needed Parity to NASCAR Cup Series

Young phenom Kyle Larson shows high parity in the Auto Club 400 NASCARMedia


A new title sponsor, as well as an edited championship format are just a few of NASCAR’s changes for 2017. So far, these enhancements of the on-track racing product have seemed to improve the sport. Parity is as high as possible so far in 2017, as five different drivers have won the first five races of this season.

Announced well over a year ago, Sprint leaving its role as the Cup Series’ title sponsor left a big question for 2016. Who would take up the multi-million dollar deal that is a piece of the largest corporate sponsorship in motor sports? The replacement, Monster Energy, surfaced in early December. This news came much later than expected. With this change the NASCAR Cup Series parity has improved, leading to more unpredictable and exciting racing action.

With control over stock car racing’s highest series, Monster Energy sought to take NASCAR in an entirely new direction. A new stage-based racing format arrived. Several key figures such as drivers, team owners, and track owners fueled this decision. This format was confusing for many across the industry at first. However, through five weeks it has increased racing action in the beginning and middle segments of races. These stages offer both regular season and playoff points for the highest ten placed drivers at differing times throughout races. The idea of rewarding strong runs and minimizing negatives of late-race incidents has proven successful. This new style of racing has motivated drivers to work harder. The level of competition rose to levels not seen before.

The five opening races of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign have been action packed. From the high banks and prestige of the Daytona 500 (won by Kurt Busch), to this past weekend’s Auto Club 400 (won by Kyle Larson). The realm of NASCAR includes many eventful outcomes. For the first four races the eventual race winner did not inherit the lead until the closing laps, putting proof to the phrase “It’s not over ’til it’s over.”

With over thirty races left in the 2017 NASCAR season, plenty of action is yet to be determined. The amount of parity witnessed in the month of racing has many in the industry optimistic for the future. But, the NASCAR Cup Series needs to retain its unpredictability and entertainment value. The summer stretch and ensuing playoffs are in need of higher fan viewership. One thing is definite, if the coming weeks of NASCAR racing are going to be as entertaining as the past month, it will definitely be worth watching.