Fourth stage added to Coca-Cola 600

The race format for the May 28 Coca-Cola 600 is changing two weeks before the race.

NASCAR announced Monday that the longest race of the season would have four stages. As part of sweeping changes to its points system and race formats, NASCAR added three stages to all races in 2017. Because the 600 is 100 miles longer than any other race, it gets a fourth stage.

Why this decision wasn’t made when NASCAR announced the stage lengths is anyone’s guess. But NASCAR changing things on the fly has become an accepted practice at this point.

In the three-stage format, the race was divided into 100, 100 and 200 lap stages. With the addition of the fourth stage, all stages will be 100 laps.

The addition of the extra stage also means another playoff point will be up for grabs. Drivers who win any of the first two stages in a race in the regular season are awarded a bonus point to use in the playoffs. Right now, Martin Truex Jr. leads the Cup Series with five stage wins through the first 11 races of the season. With his two race wins he would start the playoffs with 15 extra points to carry through the first three rounds.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!