When the calendar rolls over to 2013, the cars won’t be the only thing different in NASCAR. While the Sprint Cup Series was at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway about a week-and-a-half ago, NASCAR notified competitors that there were a few more changes in store, namely when it comes to testing rules and qualifying format.
The changes are similar to old rules and practices. First, the changes to testing. The last several years, teams have not been allowed to test at tracks any of NASCAR’s national series compete at. For a few years before that, teams were prohibited from testing at tracks their respective series raced at, with the exception being NASCAR-sanctioned tests, i.e. Goodyear tire tests and tests at track with newly-repaved surfaces.
Beginning in 2013, though, NASCAR will go back to allowing teams to test at tracks that compete on, at least on a limited basis. Teams will be allowed to conduct four tests throughout the season at tracks on which they compete.
NASCAR stressed that multi-car teams will not get four tests for each of the entries in their stables. Instead, four is a total across the organization in a given series. On the other hand, if a particular organization takes more than one of its teams to the same track on the same day for testing, it will only count as one test.
“When you talk to the big teams, there is a far different opinion than that of the smaller teams,” five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said, according to a report from Morris News Service. “So I think it’s a decent compromise. . . . It’s something different for us to play with.”
NASCAR will also be going retro with its qualifying procedure. For the last few years, the top-35 teams in car owner points have been guaranteed starting spots for races, with the other eight spots going to drivers not guaranteed in by points who post the eight-fastest lap speeds in the group during qualifying.
In 2013, NASCAR plans to go back to a system that more greatly awards performance in qualifying. Next year, the 36-fastest cars in a qualifying session will earn starting spots for that weekend’s race. The other seven spots will be provisional starting positions for the most-recent former series champion and the six drivers highest in points who didn’t have one of the fastest 36 cars in qualifying.
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