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NASCAR announces new knockout qualifying format

Jan 22, 2014, 4:39 PM EDT

Jeff Gordon AP

Taking a page from the playbooks of Formula One and the IndyCar Series, NASCAR will adopt a form of knockout-style qualifying across all three of its national series: Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck.

NASCAR will use two or three-round sessions depending on the length of each track. Here are the main details:

Round 1: 30 minutes long for all cars; Top 12 drivers on single-lap speed advance.
10-minute Break
Round 2: 10 minutes long for the Top 12 from Round 1; sets positions 1-12.

Round 1: 25 minutes long for all cars; Top 24 drivers on single-lap speed advance.
5-minute Break
Round 2: 10 minutes long for Top 24 from Round 1; Top 12 drivers on single-lap speed advance; sets positions 13-24.
5-minute Break
Round 3: 5 minutes long for Top 12 from Round 2; sets positions 1-12.

With this new format, teams will have a single set of tires to use throughout qualifying and will only be allowed to adjust their cars during the breaks between the rounds.

Should a caution emerge during a qualifying round, that round will be red-flagged and the clock on that round will be stopped. If all qualifying rounds are not completed due to weather or other circumstances, the lineup will be set by the last official completed round; if no rounds are completed, the lineup will be set per the NASCAR rule book.

“We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition and racing development in a statement. “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.”

There are some exceptions to note, however. The new format will not apply for the Daytona 500, non-points Sprint Cup races (such as the Sprint Unlimited and the Sprint All-Star Race), and the Trucks’ “Mudsummer Classic” event at Eldora Speedway.

The Daytona 500 and the Eldora truck race have unique qualifying formats. Daytona has single-car qualifying to set the front row, followed by a pair of 150-mile “Duels” to determine the rest of the grid.

Eldora also has single-car qualifying but uses that to set the field for a subsequent series of qualifying heat races. After those heats, a “last chance” qualifier and a Camping World Truck Series’ champion’s provisional completes the lineup.

More to follow…

  1. badgerbuck - Jan 22, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    I could care less about qualifying unless they do like area tracks used to do.have the fastest start from the back make them work to get to the front.

  2. ditto65 - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    I like the new format. Might actually watch…

  3. charger383 - Jan 22, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    Are Brian France and Rodger Goodell really the same person? They are screwing up NASCAR and the NFL

    • indycarseries500 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      You really liked single car qualifying? Ever sit through it at Talladega, Daytona, Indianapolis, or Pocono?

      • ditto65 - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        Or anywhere?

  4. worknman24hours - Jan 26, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Round One-ten cars wreck out in two ‘big ones’ -qualy is stopped for a total of fourty minutes to clean up the track.

    Round Two -seven cars are wrecked out-qualy is stopped for another thirty minutes to clean up the track

    Round Three-five more cars wreck out-qualy is stopped-the cars are set by the times in the second qualy.

    Why? Nobody is lifting off because what counts is the fastest lap time.

    You get that by drafting to the front and not lifting-regardless of how the guy in front of you tries to block you.

    Should be the most expensive qualifying in NASCAR history for the teams.

    “We brought our cars here and are leaving before qualifying even ends.”

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