The NHRA Countdown to the Championship was designed to add more excitement to the final six events of the season in the professional categories. This playoff structure was introduced back in 2007 and the top ten from each professional category are invited to participate in the Countdown. The 2020 season will feature a new wrinkle in how teams can qualify for the Countdown to the Championship.
Since the Countdown was introduced every team had to fight its way into the top ten in points before the conclusion of the U.S. Nationals by earning points during the first 18 events of the season in Top Fuel and Funny Car. The big change for the 2020 Countdown to the Championship is that any driver who makes a run in two qualifying sessions at each event will get a chance to compete in the playoffs.
Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors will also have a similar opportunity based on their schedules. Pro Stock drivers will need to participate in 13 regular-season events and make two qualifying runs at each race. Pro Stock Motorcycle riders will need to compete at 11 races while running in two qualifying sessions at each event to secure a spot in the playoffs.
There will be a points adjustment made before the Countdown to the Championship that begins after the U.S. Nationals according to the NHRA.
“In the Nitro categories, first and second place will be separated by 20 points and each consecutive position will be separated by a 10-point differential. In Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, first and second place will be separated by 20 points while second through fifth place will be separated by 10 points and all following positions will be separated by five points.”
How racers can accumulate points will remain the same during the Countdown and during the finals a points-and-a-half structure will be put into place.