NASCAR reverses 2023 rule change for 2024 season

NASCAR did away with stage cautions for road course races in 2023. Now those stage cautions are back full-time in 2024.

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NASCAR introduced stage racing in 2017, effectively breaking each race up into three segments (four for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway). The caution flag flies at the end of each stage, and points are awarded to the top 10 finishers in all but the final stage, when regular points are paid.

One playoff point is also given to the stage winner, increasing that driver's point total at the start of each round of the postseason.

The use of guaranteed cautions at the end of each stage effectively gave teams a way to plan their race strategies ahead of time to a much greater extent than they had in the past.

On road courses, where making a pit stop doesn't necessarily put a driver at least a lap off the lead, this was particularly noticeable. Some teams opted to stay out to collect stage points, while others opted to pit before the end of the stage to have better track position to start the following stage.

With many making the argument that this took away from the strategic element involving in road course racing, NASCAR made a change ahead of the 2023 season.

They opted to remove the guaranteed caution flags at the end of each stage in the road course races (and the street course race in Chicago). Stages still existed, and stage points and playoff points were still awarded as usual.

NASCAR reverses 2023 rule change

All things considered, the quality of road course racing dipped in 2023. Specifically, the races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Watkins Glen International left a lot to be desired, to the point where they were largely considered boring by much of NASCAR's fanbase.

NASCAR did bring back stage cautions for the playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, claiming that they wanted all 10 playoff races to effectively be the same when it came to the stage format. But what was also clear is that they wanted a much more entertaining road course race in the playoffs than they had had during the regular season.

Now in 2024, they have totally reversed the 2023 rule change, and they have reinstated stage cautions for all road and street courses.

There are four road course races and one street course race on the 2024 calendar. Just two of those road course races are scheduled for the regular season, as Circuit of the Americas is scheduled to host a race on Sunday, March 24, and Sonoma Raceway is scheduled to host a race on Sunday, June 9.

The Chicago Street Course is also scheduled to host its second ever regular season street course race on Sunday, July 7.

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Watkins Glen International is scheduled to host a playoff race in the round of 16 on Sunday, September 15, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval is scheduled to host a playoff race in the round of 12 on Sunday, October 13.

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