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After a crazy Sprint Cup qualifying session that saw a multi-car wreck and a game of chicken on pit road, NASCAR announced today it has tweaked the qualifying format for both the upcoming XFINITY and Camping World Truck series time trials for Daytona.
Instead of two groups of cars (or trucks), there will now be four groups in the first round of qualifying. The fastest 24 will advance to the next round, which will once again be split into two groups between the fastest odd-ranked vehicles and the fastest even-ranked comprising each.
From that round, the fastest 12 will race for a shot at the pole position.
Also new to the format is the starting position of the vehicles. Instead of being parked nose-first in a pit stall, vehicles are required to line up single file along pit road, with their left-side tires on the outside line of the pit box.
Once a car begins to move, it must continue on to the track. That is expected to do away with the traffic jams and waiting at the edge of pit road that occurred on Sunday’s qualifying for the Daytona 500.
The clock for each group has also been reduced from five minutes to two and a half, time enough to get in one or more laps but short enough to create a sense of urgency for the teams, judging by the Cup qualifying broadcast. Between each group, there will be a three-minute break, and between each round a 10-minute break will occur.
“We continue to work in collaboration with the industry to implement the most exciting and competitive qualifying format, especially as it relates to Superspeedways,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who had qualified 10th last Sunday but had his time disallowed for an infraction, said he was excited to see NASCAR work on changing the system.
“I think it’s good to seek how to do it better,” he said, via NASCAR.com. “The last segment of group qualifying was exciting. We didn’t know if everyone would make it back to the line.”
There was no mention whether the format will be adopted in the Sprint Cup Series’ future plate races.
“We will continue to review the qualifying format for future superspeedway events,” O’Donnell said.
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