Race Weekend Central

Drivers Prevail: NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format for Daytona, Talladega

Drivers spoke and NASCAR listened.

NASCAR will no longer allow multiple cars to run together during qualifying at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, series officials announced today.

The format change comes less than two months after drivers criticized the group qualifying format following trials for the Feb. 22 Daytona 500. After being involved in a wreck with Reed Sorenson, Clint Bowyer ripped the format.

“It’s idiotic to be out here doing this anyway,” Bowyer told FOX reporter Jamie Little after the accident in the first round of qualifying erased his shot at moving on to the next round, and thereby scoring a Daytona pole. “There’s no sense in being able to try to put on some cute show for whatever the hell this is. Then you have a guy out there doing this in desperation.”

Others took the time to bash the format as well, with Kurt Busch calling it a “roulette wheel.” Ryan Newman said it “made no sense whatsoever.” Tony Stewart even took to Twitter to call the format “a total embarrassment for our series.”

The new revised format announced Monday will affect each national series. It will consist of two rounds of qualifying, with the top-12 speeds in the first round advancing to the pole round. After setting the qualifying order through random draw, NASCAR will release one car at a time at specific intervals, similar to what they’ve done at road courses in the past. Each driver will be allowed to run one lap per round.

The qualifying order for the second round will be set by round one speeds. The 12 cars will advance from the slowest round one speed to the fastest. NASCAR will immediately impound the vehicles following their qualifying lap. Vehicles advancing to the final round will get a 10-minute break between rounds to utilize cool-down units and adjust tape.

NASCAR fans will get their first peek at the new format in May, when the Sprint Cup and Xfinity series head to Talladega. NASCAR also plans to use the format for the July races at Daytona and October races at Talladega.

The qualifying format for the 2016 Daytona 500 will be announced at a later date.

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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Biff Stenhouse

Sanity prevails …AMEN! …but odd to keep 2 rounds. Regardless, so glad those multi-car knockout rounds are gone from super speedways.


Brian got over-ruled. Now if it could only also happen with the chase, Darlington, the chase, free passes, the chase, wave-arounds, the chase…

Bill B

It was so obviously stupid to watch that NASCAR didn’t really have a choice.

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