NASCAR announced a new format for qualifying in all three of its top touring series Wednesday. For tracks, one and a quarter mile or longer, all cars will go out for 25 minutes; the top 24 cars according to their best lap will then go out for 10 minutes. The top 12 of those cars will then go out for a five-minute shootout to determine the top 12 starting lineup including the pole. For tracks less than a mile and a quarter, all cars will go out for 30 minutes, then the top 12 will go out for 10 minutes.
In a separate press release issued shortly after the announcement, NASCAR released a Q&A fact sheet on the new format:
Q. How does this new qualifying impact the Coors Light Pole Award or Keystone Light Pole Award?
A. The fastest driver in the final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying will earn the Coors Light Pole Award. The fastest driver in the final round of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying will earn the Keystone Light Pole Award.
Q. How will the cars/trucks be chosen in the first round of qualifying?
A. Cars/trucks will be lined up on pit road based on a random draw.
Q. Where will the cars/trucks that advance go between rounds?
A. Cars/trucks that advance return to their respective pit stalls in preparation for the next round of qualifying.
Q. What kind of adjustments can be made on pit road during qualifying?
A. Teams can make wedge, track bar, tire pressure and tape adjustments and also plug in oil on pit road, but only between each qualifying round. A team cannot jack up the vehicle or raise the hood.
Q. What happens if a car/truck is involved in an on track incident during one of the qualifying rounds? Are they permitted to return to pit road and/or the garage to make repairs?
A. Repairs are not permissible on pit road or in the garage during qualifying. Once a vehicle returns to the garage, it will not be permitted to return or compete in that qualifying round or any future qualifying rounds for that event.
Q. Will vehicles’ top lap speeds carry over between rounds?
A. No. Top lap speeds are reset after each round.
Q. Will NASCAR stop the clock during a qualifying round because of an incident?
A. The clock will stop if the red flag is displayed and it can also be stopped at the discretion of the managing director of the series.
Q. What happens when the clock strikes zero at the end of a round?
A. Vehicles are allowed to cross the start/finish line one time.
Q. Does a car/truck have to compete for the entire duration of a session?
A. No, but the vehicle must complete one lap in order to record a qualifying time.
Q. Does the new qualifying format impact provisionals?
A. No. NASCAR’s provisional system remains intact and provisionals will be assigned at the end of the first round of qualifying.
Q. What if two or more vehicles finish tied with the same top lap speed?
A. If multiple vehicles are tied with the same top lap speed, their 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. Note: Owner points from the previous season will be used to break ties until the completion of the third championship event of the current season.
Q. What happens if qualifying can’t be completed because of weather or other adverse conditions?
A. If one or more qualifying sessions are completed, the starting positions will be determined based on the most-recently completed qualifying sessions.
Q. What happens if qualifying is canceled because of weather or other adverse conditions?
A. Starting positions will be determined per the rule book.
Q. Will this format also be used for road courses?
A. This format will be used at all NASCAR tracks across all three national series, with the exception of the Daytona 500 and non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.
Q. Will pit stall selections be handled as they have been previously, with the No. 1 qualifier getting first choice, No. 2 qualifier getting the second choice, etc.?
A. The pit stall selection process post-qualifying will remain the same.