NASCAR returns to single car qualifying in all three national divisions
For the past 5 years, NASCAR has run three rounds of group qualifying on the majority of race tracks on the schedule.
2019 introduced a new rules package featuring less horsepower and more downforce at all tracks over 1 mile in length.
The rules change has brought drafting into play in qualifying at tracks that hadn’t seen that as a benefit in the past. The drafting requirement has in turn created a full list of issues at tracks over 1 mile.
Drivers were sitting at the end of the pit lane and letting the clock expire. As soon as one car went, they all went. But, nobody wanted to be the first car on the track as they would be missing out on the draft.
At Auto Club Speedway, we saw the worst possible scenario. All drivers in the final round waited too long to start their lap. The entire pack did not make it back to the start finish line with time to start their lap.
NASCAR responded to that by adding new rules. Those rules included a penalty for failing to turn a lap in any round. They also introduced a required open lane where parking was disallowed for exiting the pit lane.
This issues have continued. NASCAR is now tossing the white flag…
Scott Miller on qualifying
“It was (a) unified (decision) between broadcasters, teams and NASCAR,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior VP of competition, said of returning to single-car runs.
“One of the other things to make a compelling program out of it is we’ve seen the use of the ghost car (on television). That’s going to be a big element in presenting a quality show.”
“I think fans are going to be able to see which drivers drive in deep, which drivers roll the middle faster and get off the corners faster and really give the talent in the booth something to talk about.
“Another interesting aspect is every team has a good shot of getting covered during the qualifying session. We’re building in a few two-minute breaks to where TV can get some spots in and not break away from live action.”
“That’s one of the goals in this, and I think with those designated spots and breaks we will be able to present almost a whole qualifying session live without going away.”
New NASCAR qualifying format
At oval tracks larger than 1.25 miles: (Darlington Raceway and larger), teams will determine the starting lineup with a single timed qualifying lap.
At tracks 1.25 miles and shorter: (World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and smaller), teams will start on the basis of the best of two timed single-car laps.
Qualifying Order: The qualifying order draw will be determined by the previous race’s starting lineup. For example, in the Monster Energy Series, the top 20 starters from the previous race will draw to take their qualifying lap in positions 21-40 (the second half of qualifying). The remainder of the cars will draw to qualify in positions 1-20.
This weekend, the series heads to Dover International Speedway. Teams will have two qualifying laps to set their starting position.