NASCAR officials Wednesday announced a new format for qualifying to “enhance the fan experience” when watching the event on TV and the track.
This season qualifying will feature a group qualifying format.
Where tracks measure 1.25 miles in length or more, three rounds of qualifying will occur. The first round will be 25 minutes where 24 cars/trucks that post the fastest single lap will move to the second round. The remaining cars/trucks will be placed in order on their times posted in the first round in descending order.
The second round will be ten minutes and the 12 cars/trucks that post the fastest single lap will advance to the final round. The remaining cars/trucks will be placed in positions 13 through 24 based on times ran in descending order.
The third round will be five minutes where the fastest single lap time will determine the first 12 cars to start the race in descending order.
A five-minute break will separate the qualifying rounds.
At a track that measures less than 1.25 miles in length, two rounds of qualifying will be featured. The first round will be 30 minutes and includes all cars/trucks. The 12 cars/trucks that post the fastest single lap time from the first qualifying round will advance to the final round. The remaining cars/trucks will be positioned per their times posted in descending order. The final round will be ten minutes and the top 12 cars/trucks will be positioned according to their fastest single lap posted.
A ten-minute break will separate the qualifying rounds.
During the breaks, teams can make wedge, track bar, tire pressure, tape adjustments and plug in oil on pit road – only during the break. Lap speeds are reset after each round. If more than one vehicle has the same top lap speed, the starting position will be determined by the owner point standings. If owner points cannot break the tie, the driver setting the duplicate time first would start in front of the other.
This new qualification format will not apply to the Daytona 500 as to preserve its historic and unique qualifying format. It will not apply to non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events or the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.
NASCAR officials previewed the concept of group qualifying last fall and expects that fans will have a warm reception to the change, as well as competitors, tracks, and sponsors.