The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings are based on points awarded in individual races. Points are given based on placement in races plus bonuses for winning races and leading laps. Points awarded during the regular season and the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason count toward the calendar year's overall champion.
Since the 2011 season, one to 43 points are awarded in each race based on a driver's placement. Race winners receive 43 points and a three-point bonus for winning. Additional one-point bonuses are given for leading a lap and completing the most laps, so a driver can collect 48 points in a race. Non-winning drivers also are eligible for lap points.
For example, in the final regular-season race, Matt Kenseth received the maximum of 48 points in winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Sept. 12, 2015. Kyle Busch received 43 points, 42 for finishing second and a one-point bonus for leading a lap. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin each earned 39 points, Earnhardt for finishing fifth with no bonus and Hamlin for placing sixth with a one-point lap bonus.
Under a system that started in 2014, the top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races become eligible for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The eligible drivers are reduced to the best 12 after three events in the Chase, then to eight after six races and finally to four for the final three races. Overall points are adjusted after each three races. The driver with the most points after the final race is declared the Sprint Cup Series champion.