NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format At Daytona

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

After what unfolded this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway during Daytona 500 qualifying, NASCAR has decided to make a change. The format in which the Sprint Cup drivers used to qualify for the pole on Sunday will not be the same format used when drivers in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series hit the track to qualify. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell made the following comments about the changes.

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"We continue to work in collaboration with the industry to implement the most exciting and competitive qualifying format, especially as it relates to Superspeedways. As a result, we have made a few adjustments to the format for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series events later this week at Daytona. We will continue to review the qualifying format for future Superspeedway events."

While there is no assurance that these changes will work it’s nice to see that NASCAR is trying to address the problem. Below is a quick look at what changes were made and how the two lower-tier series in NASCAR will attempt to qualify for their events this weekend.

  • The field will be broken into four different groups with a 1/4 of the field in each group. Those groups will be set by a random draw in Round One of qualifying.
  • Each group will be staged by NASCAR officials at the exit of pit road, and each vehicle must have its left-side tires on the outside line of a pit boxes. The vehicles will be staged with adequate spacing between vehicles to allow each driver the opportunity to roll off of pit road at his or her discretion. Once the vehicle starts rolling, it cannot stop; it must go ahead to the track. The vehicles may go one at a time or in a group, but they must keep rolling once they start.
  • Each group will have 2:30 to make their run with a 3:00 break in-between. The top-24 will advance to Round Two.
  • Round Two will consist of two groups (odds and evens based on their times). The odds will be in one group and the evens in the other. It will be the same rules as the first round in regards to placement on pit road, amount of time to make a run and time in-between sessions. Again, once a car moves they must go to the track and the top-12 advance to the final round.
  • Round Three will consist of the top-12 cars and they will have 2:30 to make a run.

What this new format means is that drivers will no longer be running to the end of pit road to park or searching around for a partner. Once a driver begins to move they have to head to the track, period. If a driver jumps the gun or doesn’t understand a team order than they might end up running on the track by themselves. The new format will also put less cars on the track at one time during the opening round which could reduce the risk for incident.

What do you think of the new format? Do you like it better than the one that was run on Sunday? Should NASCAR consider doing this with the Sprint Cup drivers? Be sure to comment below and let us know what you think.

Christopher Olmstead is the Editor of BeyondTheFlag.com on the FanSided Network. Follow us on Twitter @Beyond_The_Flag and “Like” us on Facebook.