Opinions vary on new XFINITY, Camping World Truck Series Chase formats

Following Tuesday’s announcement of a new playoff system taking effect in 2016 for both the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, four drivers and a team owner wasted little time reacting to the changes.

The XFINITY and Truck Series will now both feature a seven-race, elimination-style Chase to determine the series’ respective champions whom will be crowned following a one-race, winner-take-all finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The format is similar to the 10-race, elimination-style Chase that’s been used to great success in the Sprint Cup Series the past two years.

NASCAR introduces Chase format for XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series

During Tuesday’s opening day of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented Technocom, XFINITY drivers Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez weighed in on the new championship structure.

Perhaps surprisingly, the two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were considerably different in their level of enthusiasm.

"I’m in favor of it," said Suarez, a Mexican-born driver set to embark on his second XFINITY season with JGR. "I think it’s going to be more interesting, I think it’s going to be more fun for us — for the drivers — and more fun for the fans. We’re going to have a lot of excitement going on in the last part of the season. We didn’t have a lot of that last year. That part is going to be more fun for everyone, I guess."

Jones, who became the Truck Series’ youngest champ last year at age 19, is moving to the XFINITY Series in a full-time ride with JGR.

Unlike teammate Suarez, Jones — who is widely considered a preseason title favorite — isn’t sold on the new Chase format, which makes running up front over the course of the whole season less important, while putting more emphasis on performance in the season finale.

NASCAR announced additional changes to XFINITY, Camping World Truck Series

"As a fan, I think it’s great," said Jones. "As a driver, for our team, yeah, it hurts us a little bit. As consistent and strong as I think we could have been throughout the whole year, I feel like we definitely had a good shot of having (the championship) locked up at Homestead, or at least being in a very good position at Homestead. But now that’s kind of out the window.

"So as a fan I love it, I think it’s great, I think it’s going to be nice to have that kind of common theme throughout the top three series, but it’s definitely going to make Homestead a little tougher."

"I think it’s going to be exciting for fans who follow the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series,” Earnhardt said. “They will have a playoff-style atmosphere at the end of the season that has been missing. It’s been in the Cup Series for several years and has been very successful. As a car owner in both series, I am excited, because it’s going to bring a lot of attention to both series, hopefully help grow both series and improve the health of both series. It’s very exciting.”

JR Motorsports XFINITY Series newcomer Justin Allgaier echoed the sentiments of his new boss.

“I think it’s going to be a good deal for us,” said Allgaier. “We’ve been so tied to making changes to the car to go faster and to gain the most points, pushing your team and the technology. Of course, you have to still make the Chase, but once you do, you can have time to do all that in anticipation of the final seven races.”

Truck Series newcomer Rico Abreu, who recently agreed to a deal with ThorSport Racing for 2016, is all about the new format, as he believes it will help even the playing field between the truck rookies and the veterans.

"I’m excited," said Abreu, fresh off his second straight win in the ultra-competitive Chili Bowl Nationals midget-car event held last weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "I’m pumped. Obviously I’ve never raced a series where it’s a format like that, so it’s all new to me and it’s going to be new to all those guys that are racing in the Camping World Truck Series. I think it gives a guy like me a shot at racing for a championship."