Race Weekend Central

Dropping the Hammer: Bring on the Tourney

“I love it when a plan comes together.” – John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, The A-Team

You can’t alway get want you want, but sometimes … you get a slightly different version of it.

Ten months ago, I laid out my grand vision for the ideal All-Star Race.

It involved a bracket and one-on-one races culminating in a final round race between four drivers.

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NASCAR to Implement In-Season Tournament in 2025

It was shamelessly inspired by Denny Hamlin‘s own bracket challenge that debuted last year.

Now one year later, NASCAR is shamelessly ripping somebody off and giving them none of the credit.

Though Hamlin is being a good sport about it.

Yes, a five-race in-season tournament is coming to NASCAR.

This is a needed splash to keep buzz around the sport long after the Daytona 500 is over, and it’s a win for NASCAR’s new TV partners: Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Sure, having Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the linchpin of the your so-far unannounced commentary team is a plus.

I personally can’t wait to see how these five races — plus the three Prime races that will determine the seeding for it — spice up the season.

Because, as Kyle Larson told NBC Sports Tuesday, it’s a really long season.

“The summer months get stale,” Larson said. “Not boring, but like it just gets repetitive. You lose some excitement.

“So I think this bracket, or this whatever you want to call it, is going to add a lot of excitement and more storylines.”

Thirty-six race weekends takes its toll, and there are certain points when everything starts to blur together.

The tournament gives the post-Coca-Cola 600 portion of the season a distinct identity.

See also
5 Points to Ponder: A Million Bucks Ain't What it Used To Be

Also, this should be an answer to those who criticize the television partners for only focusing on the race leaders.

The majority of the field gets a crack at this. And if what FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass reported yesterday pans out, we could get some surprises that advance out of the Round of 32.

What other tracks NASCAR puts in this five-race swing is important.

Because the sanctioning body still has a year to salvage its short-track and road-course packages into something that produces … something better than what we’ve been getting.

Now let’s talk about the prize money.

$1 million to win a *check notes* … five-race tournament.

Now, it doesn’t make much sense to me to have $1 million be the grand prize for any special event in the Cup Series, let alone five races.

$1 million is *still* the winning total for the All-Star Race, and it’s been that way for decades at this point.

Throw in some additional playoff points. Give it more oomph.

The only thing this tournament is missing?

Designated rivalry matchups.

Yes, the previous three races will seed the tournament.

But wouldn’t it be more fun if certain drivers were matched up intentionally in the first round based on their history?

Brad Keselowski vs. Kyle Busch.

Denny Hamlin vs. Ross Chastain.

Chris Buescher vs. Tyler Reddick.

Denny Hamlin vs. Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney vs. Erik Jones.

Ryan Blaney vs. Ross Chastain.

Ryan Blaney vs. William Byron.

Huh. Of all people, Blaney sure is building up a Rogues’ Gallery, isn’t he?

Anyway, you get the idea.

Hopefully, some new rivalries are born of this experiment.

About the author

Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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Excuse me, but don’t all these drivers actually compete against each other in EVERY race? More gimmicks, more complications, more s**t to try to keep track of? really? This is going to make a race more ‘exciting? How about fixing the issues that have turned short track and road courses into ho hum races instead of finding some convoluted way to try to keep rans interested?


just changing the color of the lipstick on the pig. it’s still a pig..the series is dysfunctional, the car is crap. been this way for years now.


So when they get down to the final 4 or 2 drivers in the final weeks, are they going to show just those drivers for 3 hours? Something tells me that this is exactly what they will do and will be a huge turnoff for fans of anyone but those drivers.


Your right

Bill B

Yawn đŸ„±


oh sb, don’t try to apply logic to this. It’s NASCAR after all. You want them to FIX the problems? The ones they created and keep on creating? Ha fat chance. Remember this is the brain trust that has made more stupid mistakes and alienated its fan base more than any other professional sports. And they just keep compounding their errors.

Carl D.

I guess we’re supposed to credit NASCAR for trying something different, even if its potential impact is dubious. The whole thing sounds convoluted to me.


Just another gimmic!! Why not go to destruction derby. Wouldn’t take as long as yawner races.


So now there are more POINTS to try to keep track of. I sure am glad the Latford system wasn’t as complicated as it is now to track the POINTS. Why don’t they give the trophy to the driver with the most wins in the five examples of Brian’s product? If there is a tie split the prize.

Amazon Prime $15/month, Video included

Prime Video $(/month (separate)

$3/month no ads


It reeks of desperation from NASCAR. They possessed a wildly successful formula, then detonated it in 2004. It’s never recovered; ratings have gone down every year since. You’d think 20 years of reversals would take the blinders off the France family eyes, but obviously it has not.


Oh, please……just one more BS gimmick to try to entice the Millennials and GenZers to the races. It won’t work, just like the “chase” didn’t work did it. NASCAR was the goose that laid the golden egg and guess what. The idiots killed it and are still wondering why it won’t lay golden eggs ever again. Stupid is as stupid does.

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