After a year that saw an overall decline in TV ratings, NASCAR is looking to re-energize its fan base by updating the name of its premier series: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Plenty of other changes are also on the horizon for the sport, including a new race structure that rewards teams with points after segments during races.
NASCAR is betting the changes will win back some fans while also earning the love of new ones throughout the season.
NASCAR and Monster Energy announced a multi-year partnership on Dec. 1, 2016 making Monster the title sponsor of NASCAR’s top series, the title sponsor of the NASCAR All-Star Race and the Official Energy Drink of NASCAR.
A new mark
NASCAR surprised many diehard fans when it announced it would be replacing the familiar bar mark that had been in place since 1976. The new mark uses the colors and feel of past brand identifiers while also adding a modern touch.
The new mark incorporates pieces of each of NASCAR’s previous marks, including the red, yellow and blue coloring from the first three marks, respectively, and the racing bars that accompany the acronym NASCAR from the prior version.
Changing logos and sponsorship names is not something NASCAR does often. Sprint/Nextel had sponsored NASCAR’s top series since 2004, concluding a 13-year run last season. That followed Winston’s title sponsorship from 1971 through 2003.
Radical change to races and points format
NASCAR’s new title for its top series will be complemented by a major upheaval of the points format. The sport’s sanctioning body and its members announced sweeping changes to how championship points are tallied and how the sport will crown its champions at the end of the season.
Races will now consist of three stages, with each stage awarding bonus points that will count toward the postseason. These points will be added to points awarded from a restructured scale, which now rewards race winners with more — both during the 26-race regular season and the playoffs.
NASCAR is hoping that dividing races into segments and rewarding the winner of each will bring a renewed excitement for both fans who are at the track and those who are taking in the sport from home.