Introduced in 2017, Stage Racing in NASCAR has become an integral part of every race in the top three National Touring Series. While race lengths, for the most part, have remained unchanged sans the occasional lowering of about 100 miles from time to time, the Stages in NASCAR have, in a sense, broken each race into sections.
In the real-world setting, these stages not only break up the action, for better or worse, but add a new element of strategy with added bonus points and playoff points. Most races have three stages, the outlier being the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which has four.
Stages are included in NASCAR Heat 5, and they have worked properly since the launch to the game as well. With the expected, eventual release of the 2022 Season DLC for NASCAR Heat 5, a game from the 2020 season, we do think that this title could possibly have a bit of a revival.
With that said, let’s run through how the Stages work in the title.
TURNING THEM ON
Not all modes of the game will have Stage Breaks turned on. Challenges, for example, just slices of things that once happened, so definitely no there, and neither will it be in Time Trials or any type of practice mode.
It will be on race modes such as Career, Championship, Single Race and online in Multiplayer. Only a certain percentage of race will even allow the for feature to become available though—13 percent distance races at the minimum, and every distance above that.
In the settings from the main menu, whether picking the settings for Quick Race or Career Mode or Championship (each has their own separate settings), under the Gameplay tab, once the Race Length is set to 13 percent or more, then a Stages option will become available to mess with.
The Single Race Stage option removes the Stage Racing feature from your races – You can run all 500 laps at Martinsville or Bristol uninterrupted, if you so desire. Multiple Race Stages will turn on NASCAR-style Stage Racing and the races will all have more points and caution flags to dish out.
HOW A RACE PLAYS OUT WITH STAGES
When a race has stages built in, the race is broken into defined sections that, at this current time, reflect the stage lengths found in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Depending how long you make the races, it could be as quick as a couple of laps each stage or it could be full distance, which would be more like 50 to 100 laps.
On the HUD, the Lap Info Black Box will inform you how many laps are complete per the stage, with a Race Lap Info box flashing how many laps remaining in the stage every time you pass the start/finish line. If a caution were to fall before the end of the stage, there’s a possibility that the game will end the stage there.
If it does go green until the end of the stage, the field will continue to race until 10th place crosses the line, and then the caution will fly. Pit stops become an option at this time, but are not mandatory. Only in the final stage does NASCAR Overtime come into play, if the race gets a late caution, that is.
MORE VALUABLE IN CHAMPIONSHIP OR CAREER
While you can turn on Stage Racing in single player and multiplayer race, the most useful part of having Stage Racing is to get the added points benefits when you do well in them.
There are points to be had throughout the race, so if you have a strong start and a terrible finish, you can still walk away with a decent points day for performing in Stage 1 and Stage 2. Conversely, you can miss out on Stage Points all race, win the race, and score less points than whoever finishes second. Crazy.
Knowing when to pit, or if to stay out and gamble could prove to be a pivotal moment in any race depending on if a caution flies or how long the runs have been. For example, if a stage is long, lets say like 100 laps, and the pit window is 60, if a caution comes out at lap 90, some drivers might come in, some might stay out for the stage.
All stages are created equal and offer up an equal amount of points through any given race. In all races but the Coca-Cola 600, which has four stages, the maximum amount of points that any one driver can earn in any given race is 60.
To win the race is 40 points and to win a stage is 10 points. Two stages plus the third and final one that brings the race to its conclusion, that adds up to 60 total possible points, 70 at the Coca-Cola 600 for it having four stages.
With the stage winner receiving 10 points, second place gets nine points and so on down until 10th place, who gets a single point. There are also Playoff Points to be had! Five Playoff Points goes to the overall winner, but each Stage Winner also grabs a Playoff Point to bring with them into the NASCAR Playoffs, should they make it.
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