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NASCAR Brings Back Big Payday With $1M Prize for In-Season Tournament

The bracket-style showdown will be a key feature of Prime Video and TNT Sports’ Cup Series coverage in 2025.

byCaleb Jacobs|
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I live in the middle of the country and most racing fans I know follow NASCAR. At least, they used to. When I ask them why they don't watch it religiously anymore, they usually tell me one of two things: Either the cars aren't any good or the drivers aren't as hungry, mainly because they aren't racing for a big payday. While I'm not sure the former point is valid anymore, the latter one is and NASCAR seems to recognize that.

Enter the newly announced 2025 in-season tournament, which will involve 32 drivers in five races for a $1 million purse.

The stock car racing sanctioning body announced the fresh format on Monday. While NASCAR didn't officially credit him, Denny Hamlin famously suggested the idea on his podcast last year. People have rallied around the sport's notorious heel by shouting him out on social media, and his response is simple: Good on 'em for finally seeing the light.

It'll work sort of like the NCAA basketball tournament. The top 32 drivers will be pitted against each other in head-to-head matchups, and the winner of each will move on to the next round. Everyone will keep racing no matter what, but if they lose their head-to-head, they'll be out of the tournament. This will go on for five races broadcast on TNT Sports, while the three races that decide each driver's seeding will air on Prime Video.

"The idea of an in-season tournament has been discussed within the NASCAR industry and as we started to focus on adding promotional elements that drive interest throughout the season, we were excited by the opportunity to leverage the marketing weight of Amazon and TNT Sports to bring this concept to life," NASCAR Senior Vice President of Media and Productions Brian Herbst said in a statement.

NASCAR hasn't announced which five of the 38 Cup Series races will make up the 2025 in-season tournament. It'd be great to see a mix of short ovals, speedways, and superspeedways. Heck, throw in a road course if you really want to party. Either way, you can bet drivers will be all-in for the shot at a cool million-dollar check.

Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: caleb@thedrive.com

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