Chris Buescher wins the Daytona summer race.

How NASCAR points are awarded

In the NASCAR Cup Series, whether it’s during the 26-race regular season or in the 10-race playoffs, there’s no question that every point counts.

Drivers in recent seasons have failed to make the playoffs by a mere three or four points, which in some cases is the difference between one finishing position in just any one race in the regular season.

Here are the main ways drivers earn NASCAR points:

  • Race wins and position: race winners receive 40 points, with point values decreasing deeper into the finishing order
  • Stage wins and position: drivers in positions 1-10 at the end of each race stage earn bonus points
  • Race and stage wins: points used to set the playoff starting order are awarded for each race and stage win during the 26-race regular season

Since 2016, when the charter system was established, a maximum of 40 cars/drivers are allowed in the race day field (with 36 chartered teams guaranteed starting spots)

A race winner earns 40 points, on down to one point each to the final five drivers at the back of the field. A similar points system determines owner standings for the overall performance of their teams across the 36-race schedule.

Drivers can also earn up to 20 additional points based on how they finish in each of the first two stages in 25 of the first 26 races. The Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the season, is the only race to have three stages because of its length, meaning drivers can earn up to 30 bonus points in that event. (Additional bonus points earned in each of the first 26 races are solely for a driver’s eventual position in the playoffs, but are not included in regular season race-to-race standings.)Also of note: the driver who starts a race must also finish it to receive points; a relief driver does not earn points.

Here’s how the NASCAR points system works:


Drivers finishing first through 10th in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 (and Stage 3 in the Coca-Cola 600) earn bonus points. The stage winner is awarded 10 points, the second-highest driver earns 9 points, down to the 10th-place finisher, who earns one additional bonus point. If a driver wins both stages and the race, he/she earns a maximum of 60 points (or 70 points if they win all three stages and the race in the Coca-Cola 600).


Additional points are awarded in the first 26 races that are not included in overall driver point standings, but are compiled to determine where a driver will start in the 16-driver, 10-race playoffs. A driver earns five playoff points for each win in the first 26 regular-season races. Also, every driver who wins Stage 1 and/or Stage 2 in the first 26 races earns one playoff bonus point for each stage win. All bonus points are added to a driver’s total once the playoffs begin. Bonus points are not awarded during playoff races.


Following the 26th race of the season, point totals are reset for the 16 drivers who qualify for the playoffs. Points are also reset after each of the first three playoff rounds. The four bottom-ranked drivers after each of the first three, three-race playoff rounds are eliminated from advancing any further. That means 12 drivers move on to Round 2, eight drivers advance to Round 3 and four drivers remain for the one-race Championship 4 round.


1st place — 40 points

2nd place — 35 points

3rd place — 34 points

4th place — 33 points

5th place — 32 points

6th place — 31 points

7th place — 30 points

8th place — 29 points

9th place — 28 points

10th place — 27 points

11th place — 26 points

12th place — 25 points

13th place — 24 points

14th place — 23 points

15th place — 22 points

16th place — 21 points

17th place — 20 points

18th place — 19 points

19th place — 18 points

20th place — 17 points

21st place — 16 points

22nd place — 15 points

23rd place — 14 points

24th place — 13 points

25th place — 12 points

26th place — 11 points

27th place — 10 points

28th place — 9 points

29th place — 8 points

30th place — 7 points

31st place — 6 points

32nd place — 5 points

33rd place — 4 points

34th place — 3 points

35th place — 2 points

36th place — 1 point

37th place — 1 point

38th place — 1 point

39th place — 1 point

40th place — 1 point