NASCAR: Significant rule change in effect at Chicago

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Chicago Street Course, NASCAR (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Chicago Street Course, NASCAR (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

For just the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history, there will be stage racing without stage breaks this Sunday afternoon on the streets of Chicago.

NASCAR introduced stage racing ahead of the 2017 season, and it has been in effect across all three national series since then. Each Cup Series race is split up into three stages, save for the four-stage Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Points are paid to the top 10 finishers of each of the first two stages, with the stage winner scoring 10 points, all the way down to the 10th place finisher scoring one. The stage winner also scores one playoff point which they carry with them through the postseason.

From 2017 to 2022, the caution flag flew at the end of each stage. The caution flag continues to fly at the end of each stage in every oval race.

But beginning in 2023, NASCAR eliminated Cup Series stage breaks from all road and street course races.

However, there are still three stages in each, with stage points and playoff points still paid out like usual. This change was first utilized in the race at Circuit of the Americas in late March, and it was in effect again at Sonoma Raceway in mid-June. Both of these tracks had hosted races under the old stage caution format.

The site of this coming Sunday afternoon’s race, however, has never hosted a Cup Series race before. But this offseason rule change is still set to be in effect.

Sunday’s race, the Grant Park 220, is set to be the first ever race at the new Chicago Street Course. It is also set to be the first ever Cup Series street course race, so there have been a variety of predictions as to how it will play out and whether or not it will be a one-and-done on the calendar.

Beyond the Chicago race, which is the 18th of 36 overall races on this year’s schedule, there are three more road course races on the calendar.

These races include the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, which is scheduled to take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Sunday, August 13; the Go Bowling at The Glen, which is scheduled to take place at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 20; and the Bank of America Roval 400, which is scheduled to take place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on Sunday, October 8.

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Tune in to NBC at 5:00 p.m. ET this Sunday for the live broadcast of the Grant Park 220 from the Chicago Street Course. Start a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!