This year’s NASCAR season has officially kicked off with last week’s festivities at Daytona International Speedway. Valentine’s Day saw the Sprint Unlimited being won by Matt Kenneth and today is the Budweiser Duel — the latter is the qualifying race that consists of two 150-mile courses and determines the final racing order for Saturday’s Daytona 500.

And as most racing fans know, the Daytona 500, one of the most storied competitions of the year, begins 2015’s Sprint Cup Series. Kevin Harvick enters the season as defending champion. Now, with all the rule changes from year-to-year, the Sprint Series could be hard to understand for non-NASCAR fans.

So the Sprint Series consists of 36 races, beginning in Daytona and ending at the Ford EcoBoost 400 in Homestead-Miami Speedway. Each race provides points to the drivers depending on where they finish: however, while the points used to play a vital role in the postseason, NASCAR heavily focuses on wins first than points.

After the Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 12, the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins. This means that 16 racers are selected to compete for the Championship: 15 of the 16 slots are given to the drivers with the most wins, while the last spot is reserved for the winless driver with the most points. If there are less than 15 drivers with wins, than officials look at points.

The chase is then broken up into four rounds, where points total begin to make an impact: as ones with the fewest totals are eliminated. The Challenger Round has 16 drivers, the Contender Round brings it down to 12, the Eliminator Round has eight and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship — which consists of one race — has four potential winners. To keep the non-competing racers competitive, there is a hefty purse for the person who finishes in first out of those who did not make the playoff.

With this said, 2015 is shaping into a very good year: it is Jeff Gordon’s last full-time racing year as he plans semi-retirement, many wonder will Jimmie Johnson bounce back from one of his worst seasons in recent memory, will Tony Stewart move past the horrific incident that sidelined him last year and will Kurt Busch still be racing by the end of the season? All are thoroughly intriguing questions.

So there are certainly storylines to follow: hopefully, all of this could bring NASCAR out of a tv ratings nosedive — despite a strong finish, 2014’s 2.7 million Chase for the Sprint Cup viewers tied 2012 and 2010 for the lowest average rating since the playoff began in 2004.

And Daytona 500 is certainly not a bad place to start, with last year hitting around 9.3 million viewers.

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