In collaboration with industry stakeholders, NASCAR has announced an enhanced competition format that will be implemented in all three of its national touring series, including at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend March 3-5.

Increasing the sense of urgency and emphasizing aggressive racing and strategy, the format will deliver more dramatic moments over the course of an entire race and season, with playoff point incentives on the line throughout.

Now, more than ever, each of the 36 races on the NASCAR schedule will play a significant part in where a driver will finish in the point standings after the 26-race regular season, while also impacting their overall seeding in the playoffs.

The enhanced format will consist of the following:

Races will now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage.
The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points.
The winner of the first two stages of each race will receive one playoff point, and the race winner will receive five playoff points. Each playoff point will be added to his or her reset total following race No. 26, if that competitor makes the playoffs.
All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs (Round of 8), with the Championship 4 racing straight-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.
Championship points following the first two stages will be awarded on a descending scale, with the stage winner receiving 10 points, second receiving 9 points, and so on.
The race winner following the final stage will now receive 40 points, second-place will receive 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on.
"Atlanta is a challenging track," said Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway president. "What we typically have seen throughout the years, is that as the race goes on, we rubber down the track from top to bottom, and it takes a while to get that done. But now, we're going to see guys really have to get after it from the start, and the strategy will come into play. But we're going to see better racing in the early- to mid-segments of the race in stead of that last half of the race, like we've typically seen.

"I think it's going to be a little more compelling action, and everybody is going to be figuring this out. It will be a big learning curve, I think, for all the crew chiefs and the drivers participating in the event."

NASCAR also announced a playoff bonus structure that will see the regular season points leader honored as the regular season champion, earning 15 playoff points that will be added to the driver's playoff reset of 2,000. In addition, the top-10 drivers in points leading into the playoffs will receive playoff points, with second place receiving 10 playoff points, third place will earn 8 points, fourth place will receive 7 points, and so on. All playoff points will carry through to the end of the Round of 8.

NASCAR racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway March 3-5, 2017, featuring the Rinnai 250 XFINITY Series and Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series doubleheader on Saturday, March 4 and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, March 5.