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Major revamp of NASCAR qualifying procedures

NASCAR is to introduce group qualifying in 2014 across all three series, and will use a similar knock-out system to the ones already used by F1 and IndyCar.
NASCAR has announced a major overhaul of the qualifying procedures that will be used for its three national-level series, putting an end to the traditional single-car speed trial laps.

In future, the grid for races in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series will be set by cars taking to the track at the same time, and by a series of elimination rounds like those already used in F1 and IndyCar.

At tracks longer than 1.25 miles, qualifying will take place over three rounds. In the first 25-minute session, all cars vying to make the grid will head out and attempt to set their fastest times. The top 24 will graduate to the second ten-minute round, and the top 12 from that round will then go on to the final pole shootout round that will set the front six rows of the grid.

There will be a five minute break between the rounds and teams will be allowed to make some minor adjustments to the cars. However they will not be able to refuel, and the same set of tyres must be used throughout the qualifying session.

At shorter tracks the qualifying process will be run over just two rounds, with the first lasting for 30 minutes. After a ten minute break, the top 12 after will then go through to a ten-minute second and final round to decide the pole and front six rows.

"We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition and racing development. "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," he added. "Additionally, it provides our tracks, broadcasters and other key partners with a greater opportunity to develop more entertaining content for our race weekends."

While the new format means that the ultimate pole position time will quite possibly no longer be the fastest lap of the entire qualifying session, it will remove the possibility of drivers winning pole based purely on a fortuitous change in the weather or track conditions taking place during their allotted time for their speed trial.

“Heck, I'm all for anything that makes it fun not only the fans but the drivers and teams too!" was the response of Cup driver Clint Bowyer after NASCAR's announcement. "This is really going shake things up on Fridays – in a good way. I'm all for it. It's time we go out and get the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota a darn pole!"

The new qualifying format will not apply to non-championship events such as the Sprint All-Star race, and will also not be used at next month's Cup season opener, as the Daytona 500 has its own traditional qualifying process spread over several days. The Truck Series will also not use the new elimination qualifying for the atypical dirt track event at Eldora Speedway in July.



Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Planes Chevrolet, signs his name after qualifying first for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #48 Lowe’s Planes Chevrolet SS was the pole winner Friday, August 2, 2013 at Pocono Raceway during qualifying for Sunday`s GoBowling 400 in Pocono, Pennsylvania. Johnson continues to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Rusty Jarrett for Chevrolet)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley/CTC Jumpstart Ford, poses for a photo after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2013 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley/CTC Jumpstart Ford, poses for a photo after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2013 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer  driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, talks with crew chief Brian Pattie on pit road after an incident with Jeff Gordon driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, will be on the front row after qualifying for second position Friday, July 31, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, July 31, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Dillon is 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, July 31, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Stewart is 26th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Friday, July 31, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Busch is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 31, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 Maxwell House Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, speak in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 31, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, and David Ragan, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stand on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Earnhardt, Jr. is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Larson is 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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