NASCAR In-Season Tournament to Debut on TNT Sports, Prime Video

NASCAR will institute an in-season tournament competition in 2025, becoming the latest sport to inject extra significance into the heart of its regular season.

A 32-driver, bracket-style, head-to-head competition will play out over five Cup Series races, with those events aligning with the portion of the calendar aired by TNT Sports. The seeds for that challenge will be set over the course of Amazon Prime Video’s final three races of the year. The winner will earn a $1 million prize.

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The concept’s introduction follows the successful launch of the NBA’s in-season tournament, now known as the Emirates NBA Cup, which itself took inspiration from global soccer events. The NBA’s tournament used regular season matchups as group stage games, leading up to quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games in Las Vegas. NASCAR’s version will take place entirely within the existing schedule.

NASCAR’s full 2025 schedule has not been announced, though the tournament races will likely take place across several types of tracks. The vision gained momentum during early media rights conversations last summer, which culminated in NASCAR reaching seven-year deals with Fox Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon and TNT Sports.

“We want it to be pretty simple, since it is kind of a race within a race,” NASCAR SVP, media and productions Brian Herbst said of the tournament concept. “This bracket-style format seemed simple enough, seemed easily explainable. And the other piece that we wanted to do is focus on the drivers in particular to the extent that we can create rivalries or storylines from a head-to-head perspective.”

While production planning is still in the early stages, TNT executives will be able to use the new competition to highlight position battles that might be taking place throughout the race field.

“This just gives you this extra dynamic where every race of those five races means a little bit more,” TNT Sports chief content officer Craig Barry said. “It creates something really interesting for the casual fan.”

In part, TNT’s slate was designed to fill a need in the summer following the end of the NBA season, though its future in the basketball business is now in doubt. While the summer has become a more crowded time for sports with the growth of international soccer and women’s basketball, it’s still relatively quiet compared to other stretches of the year.

Starting next year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join the new broadcast units for both TNT Sports and Amazon. Going forward, the tournament could also connect to NASCAR’s existing playoff qualifying process. NASCAR will also look into potential prediction contests or betting tie-ins.

“The in-season tournament will provide a new engagement experience for fans during an important stretch of the NASCAR schedule,” Charlie Neiman, Prime Video head of sports partnerships, said in a statement. “We are excited to help drive innovation within the sport and add a dynamic element to increase competition among the drivers.”

The in-season tournament follows several changes to NASCAR’s race schedule in recent years, including a return to the racetrack in North Wilkesboro, N.C., and the introduction of a street race in Chicago.

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