Denny Hamlin Has Intriguing Idea for Updated NASCAR Playoffs

Denny Hamlin

Getty Denny Hamlin has a unique idea to change the playoffs.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs feature 10 races split between four rounds. This format has created nonstop conversations, and now Denny Hamlin has weighed in.

Hamlin provided his thoughts on the matter after listening to the Brian France episode of “The Dale Jr. Download.” He responded to a Twitter user complaining about the Round of Four, and he laid out a different playoff format that he would like to see. Though it would still feature this final round.

“The round of [four] is great,” Hamlin tweeted. “I agree with @DaleJr that it should be a larger sample size, however. [Three] races to crown a champ. 12 total races in playoffs. Every race is important, no one will clinch early. The last race is still the championship.”

The current playoff format features 10 rounds. Three make up the Round of 16, three make up the Round of 12, and three make up the Round of Eight. The final race features four drivers battling for the trophy in a winner-take-all format.

This Conversation Began With ‘The Dale Jr. Download’

Denny Hamlin

GettyDenny Hamlin & Dale Earnhardt Jr. share an opinion about the championship race.

Hamlin’s tweet was made after he and many others listened to the Brian France episode of “The Dale Jr. Download.” The former NASCAR CEO and Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent time discussing a variety of topics, including the expansion of the playoff field from 10 to 16 drivers.

“I like the playoffs, but the only thing that I’ve kind of struggled with is how we expanded the playoff field,” Earnhardt said. “And this happened at the Clash as well. Like the eligibility for getting into the Clash changed the identity of that race.

“When the Chase was 10 drivers, it was like, ‘D***, that’s hard. That’s hard to get into.’ It’s 16 now, which is almost half the field of the guys that run every single week.”

Earnhardt also said that he has struggled with the championship race being “all or nothing.” He noted that some venues may suit certain teams or drivers, which is something that Hamlin also addressed on Twitter.

The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry TRD went a step further. He noted that simple consistency in a three-round championship four will not automatically lead to a title. He explained that drivers will still have to win. They just won’t have to do so at one single track.

Where Would These Extra Races Come From?

Hamlin’s idea about the championship four is intriguing, and it would lead to a three-race stretch with even higher stakes. Moving the Round of Four to three races would also give teams more opportunities to fight for the title.

If NASCAR went in this direction, where would it get the extra two races? There are some options. The most straightforward is making the regular season only 24 races while adding two more to the playoffs. Another option is expanding the schedule by two races, something that has been listed as a possibility.

Veteran reporter Lee Spencer even said in Episode 2242 of “The Pit Reporters Podcast” that there could be 40 points-paying races and two exhibition races in the future.

“I’m hearing 42 races,” Spencer said. She continued and noted that it wouldn’t be the 2024 season. “I think they set that up for the new TV schedule to give a little piece of the pie to everybody.”

There obviously won’t be any changes made for the 2023 season. NASCAR has already finalized the upcoming schedule. There is a possibility that something could happen in 2024 or 2025, but that information will not be available until well down the road.

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