NASCAR will debut its new group qualifying procedures today at Phoenix International Raceway.
Somewhat influenced by Formula One’s qualifying procedures, the new Sprint Cup Coors Light Qualifying begins at 6:30 pm ET at PIR.
Unofficially known as “the pack is back” (and no, that’s not a reference to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers), the new procedures replace NASCAR’s former one car at a time qualifying. Last Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 was the last time solo one-car qualifying will be seen for a Cup race.
The new qualifying system may be a bit confusing to fans at first, but they should quickly get the hang of it.
Essentially, tracks that are less than 1.25 miles, such as Phoenix, Bristol, Martinsville, New Hampshire and Richmond, will see two qualifying rounds. The first will last 30 minutes, with all cars expected to be on the track.
The fastest 12 drivers in the first round will then move to a 10-minute second round, which will determine the pole sitter. The other cars will be placed on the starting grid based upon their best single qualifying lap during either the first or second sessions.
At tracks longer than 1.25 miles, such as next week’s race host, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there will be three rounds of qualifying.
The first round will feature all entries and will take 25 minutes.
The 10-minute second round will be the 24 fastest from the first round.
The third and final round will have the 12 fastest from the second round vying for No. 1 qualifier over a brief five-minute session.
The same qualifying procedures will also be used for both the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.
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