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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)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, talks to Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota Toyota, on the grid during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, November 20, 2015 Sunday`s final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for thirteenth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick will be joined by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Truex, Jr. will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sunday will be Gordon`s last race as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase contender Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 13, 2015 for Sunday`s final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chase contender Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Friday, November 13, 2015 for Sunday`s final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chase contender Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, November 13, 2015, for Sunday`s final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chase contender Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Friday, November 13, 2015 for Sunday`s final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Pole winner Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position Friday, November 13, 2015 for Sunday`s final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Chase contender Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row start Sunday.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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