NASCAR, on Wednesday, announced changes to the qualifying procedures for its three national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck), adopting a Formula 1-type qualifying format for most races.
“We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series,” NACAR Vice President for Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton said. “This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online. For the drivers and teams, we believe this new qualifying will fuel even greater competition leading into the events. Additionally, it provides our tracks, broadcasters and other key partners with a greater opportunity to develop more entertaining content for our race weekends.”
The format differs slightly for tracks 1.25 miles in length and larger and those under that distance. The new format is as follows:
TRACKS 1.25 MILES AND LARGER
There will be three rounds with five-minute breaks between rounds. The first elimination round will last 25 minutes and include all cars/trucks. The 24 entries that post the fastest single laps will move on to the second round. The rest will be ordered by fastest lap times and occupy spots on the race starting grid from 25th back through the end of the starting grid. Cars/trucks remaining will not make the race.
The fastest 24 will move on to a second elimination round that will last 10 minutes. The 12 fastest cars/trucks in that round will move on to the final round. The slower cars/trucks in the round will be ordered by lap times and claim the 13th-24th positions on the starting grid for the race.
The third qualifying round will last five minutes, with fastest laps determining the order of the top-12 starters of the race.
TRACKS UNDER 1.25 MILES
There will be only two rounds with a 10-minute break between rounds.
The first round will last 30 minutes and include all cars/trucks. The cars/trucks posting the 12 fastest lap times will advance to the second round. The remaining will fill out positions 13 through last on the starting grid.
The fastest 12 will move on to a 10-minute second round to qualify for the top-12 positions on the starting grid. They will start the race in descending order of their fastest speeds from this session.
“Heck, I’m all for anything that makes it fun, not only for the fans but the drivers and teams, too,” Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer said. “This is really going to shake things up on Fridays — in a good way. I’m all for it.”
The qualifying format for the Daytona 500 and the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway will not change.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR