Sprint Cup Series - Wikipedia.com
The Sprint Cup Series (often shortened to Sprint Cup or the Cup Series) is the top racing series of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). It was formerly known as the Strictly Stock Series (1949) and Grand National Series (1950-1970). While leasing its naming rights to R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, it was known as the Winston Cup Series (1971-2003). When a similar deal was made with Sprint Nextel Corporation, it became the NEXTEL Cup Series (2004-2007). It is sometimes erroneously referred to as simply, NASCAR.
The drivers' champion is determined by a point system where points are given according to finishing placement and laps led. The season is divided into two segments. After the first 26 races, the 12 highest ranked drivers are seeded based on their total number of wins and compete in the last 10 races with the difference in points greatly equalized. This is called the Chase for the Championship. In 2008, Jimmie Johnson became the only driver besides Cale Yarborough to win 3 consecutive Sprint Cup championships. Johnson was awarded a $7 million check, and for the 3rd time, the Sprint Cup.
The series holds strong roots in the Southeastern United States with half of its 36-race season in the former Confederate States. However, it has grown to become one of the six most popular professional sports leagues of the United States. The Daytona 500, its most prestigious race, had a television audience in the U.S. of about 16 million viewers in 2009. Previously, races have been held in Canada, and exhibition races were held in Japan and Australia.
Sprint Cup Series cars are unique in automobile racing. The engines are powerful enough to reach speeds over 200 mph (320 km/h), but high weight makes for poor handling. Their bodies and chassis are strictly regulated to ensure parity, and electronics are generally spartan in nature.