Skip to content

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:

FOR TRACKS LESS THAN 1.25 MILES LONG – TWO ROUNDS
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.

FOR TRACKS 1.25 MILES LONG OR LARGER – THREE ROUNDS
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…

Latest Posts
  1. Starting grid for the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

    Mar 29, 2015, 2:00 AM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg AP

    Lewis Hamilton will lead the grid away at Sepang on Sunday.

  2. NHRA: C. Force, Todd, McGaha and Arana Jr. qualify No. 1 for 4-Wide Nationals eliminations

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Courtney Force qualified No. 1 Saturday at the 4-Wide Nationals. (Harold Hinson Photo) Courtney Force qualified No. 1 Saturday at the 4-Wide Nationals. (Harold Hinson Photo)

    It was a double dose of Force in Saturday’s final rounds of qualifying for the sixth-annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

  3. St. Petersburg notes: PWC, MRTI triple-dips heading into Sunday

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda Photo: Pro Mazda

    Roundup of the rest of Saturday’s action from St. Petersburg.

  4. Teaser clip: F1 on NBC’s “Off the Grid” hits Mexico (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    MexicoOTGteaser Getty Images

    NBC Sports Group’s “Off the Grid” digital series hits Mexico City, set to premiere on March 31.

  5. De Silvestro 11th in her first IndyCar qualifying in more than a year

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT

    SimAndrettiQuals AP

    Simona de Silvestro happy to be somewhat disappointed with 11th in IndyCar qualifying at St. Petersburg.

  6. Sato saves Honda’s day with another St. Pete Fast Six appearance

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    TSstpquals AP

    Takuma Sato puts together a successful qualifying effort for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, ending in fifth and best Honda.

  7. Penske’s quartet pushes each other en route to qualifying dominance

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    PenskeTop4Quals AP

    After top-four qualifying sweep, the Team Penske teammates are praising each other rather than trading shots.

  8. Power on pole in Penske top-four sweep of St. Petersburg qualifying

    Mar 28, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT

    PowerSTPpole AP

    Power on pole as Team Penske goes 1-2-3-4 in St. Petersburg qualifying.

  9. Indy Lights: Carlin’s Ed Jones on top in opening race at St. Pete

    Mar 28, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Indy Lights’ new era kicks off at St. Petersburg with a new driver and team on top in the series’ new car.

  10. Power on top as Penske 1-2-3 in second straight St. Pete practice

    Mar 28, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT

    WPstpP3 AP

    More Will Power on top of IndyCar practice at St. Petersburg.

  11. Franck Montagny receives two-year ban from FIA after positive drug test

    Mar 28, 2015, 1:01 PM EDT

    Montagnynew Getty Images

    Franck Montagny receives two-year ban from FIA’s Anti-Doping Disciplinary Committee.

  12. Ericsson storms to career-best qualifying in Malaysia

    Mar 28, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Marcus Ericsson AP

    Swedish driver reaches both Q2 and Q3 for the first time in his F1 career, and will start tomorrow’s race from ninth place on the grid.

  13. Wet qualifying benefits Red Bull, hinders Williams, on Saturday in Malaysia

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ricciardo and Kvyat both get inside the top five thanks to the rain in Q3 in Malaysia, but Massa and Bottas struggle.

  14. Monaco’s Formula E track layout is revealed

    Mar 28, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Qualifying Getty Images

    Monaco’s circuit for the FIA Formula E Championship is revealed.

  15. Grosjean hit with grid penalty after queue jumping

    Mar 28, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-MAS-F1 Getty Images

    Lotus driver drops two places on the starting grid after failing to keep his place in the pit lane.

  16. One spectator killed, others injured, at VLN Endurance event in Germany

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:28 AM EDT

    © VLN - the start of a 2014 race at the Nurburgring © VLN - the start of a 2014 race at the Nurburgring

    Incident involving Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan GT-R claims the life of one spectator at the Nordschleife.

  17. Verstappen flourishes in the wet to qualify sixth in Malaysia

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-MAS-F1 Getty Images

    Dutch youngster scores the best F1 qualifying result for a teenager in 54 years on Saturday in Malaysia.

  18. Alonso: Q1 exit not a sign of things to come for McLaren

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Alonso 283 Getty Images

    Spanish driver will make his second debut for McLaren from 18th position on the grid tomorrow.

  19. Hamilton delighted after claiming 40th career pole (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    British driver explains the challenge of judging your qualifying lap in the wet after securing pole position in Malaysia on Saturday.

  20. Manor receives dispensation to race in Malaysia despite missing 107% time in qualifying

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:49 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Qualifying Getty Images

    Merhi and Stevens miss the 107% time required to qualify in Malaysia, but are granted dispensation by the FIA stewards.