NASCAR qualifying format changed ahead of Texas Motor Speedway

New NASCAR qualifying penalties and procedures added; It was announced via a memo issued to the teams

NASCAR has announced qualifying changes. They will be in place for all three of the national series starting this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Two weeks ago, Auto Club Speedway say a waiting game at the end of pit road in the final round of qualifying. Nobody wanted to exit the pit lane first.

They waited long enough that not a single driver made it back to the line with enough time to even start a lap. Time expired and none of the 12 drivers set a time in the run for pole.

Austin Dillon leads in NASCAR qualifying at Auto Club Speedway
Austin Dillon leads in NASCAR qualifying at Auto Club Speedway (Photo: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

NASCAR changes qualifying format

Failure to set a lap: New for Texas Motor Speedway, drivers will be required to turn a lap. Any driver that fails to turn a lap will have all times from previous rounds, disallowed.

This doesn’t only apply to the final round of qualifying. It means, if a driver fails to set a time in round two after advancing from round one, then the round one time will be disallowed. Failure to set a lap in any round, will relegate a driver to the back of the field for the race.

Blocking pit road: There’s also a new penalty in place for blocking the pit exit. If a driver is parked anywhere on the pit lane that prevents cars from exiting the pit lane then they will be penalized.

It’s a judgement call on NASCAR’s part. The penalty for this new infraction could vary. NASCAR gave an example penalty such as, “disallowing that team’s posted qualifying speed and/or disqualifying that car from additional qualifying rounds.”

Scott Miller details the new NASCAR qualifying rules

“The inherent problem (at Auto Club) was obviously everybody waiting to the end, and it being un-orderly on the end of pit road with people blocking and playing all kinds of games,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller told

“So really, we want to retake control and make order out of pit road and the way that drivers leave.”

“We want to allow every competitor the chance to leave pit road when they want to leave and not be at the mercy of somebody else.”

NASCAR Qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NASCAR Qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NASCAR qualifying: Staging

Another new thing for Texas Motor Speedway is pre-qualifying staging. Drivers will be parked in a designated area on the pit lane.

Once a driver leaves that area, he will be forced to head onto the race track. There will be no stopping at the edge of the pit lane.

Martinsville Speedway was not a track that would bring qualifying issues that we’ve seen from previous tracks. These problems stem from a new rules package which has brought drafting into play during qualifying at tracks larger than 1-mile.

“One of the things we wanted to hold true to is not to go back to single-car qualifying,” Miller said. “Single-car qualifying is two things – it’s boring and it’s expensive. It also doesn’t create a good show.”

“Anytime we go on the track it should be a show. Certainly, we are in, first and foremost, the racing business. But we’re also in show business. We definitely have to provide our fans with something that’s intriguing to watch and gets them excited about coming back and watching the race,” Miller concluded.


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Texas Motor Speedway | NASCAR