The NASCAR qualifying formula is set to return for the 2022 season, but not in the way that it has been used over the last two seasons.
In 2020, when practice and qualifying sessions were all but eliminated from the NASCAR schedule following the unexpected 10-week hiatus caused by COVID-19-related restrictions, NASCAR began setting starting lineups with group-based random draws.
But that changed before the end of the season, when they adopted a new formula in August 2020 to set the starting lineup for each race. That formula was used for the majority of races throughout the 2021 season as well, with practice and qualifying sessions still scarce.
With practice and qualifying sessions set to return for the 2022 season, this formula will no longer be needed.
However, it will still be used, just for a different reason.
Now that formula is set to be used to determine qualifying order, as opposed to starting lineup order.
This change is slated to go into effect after, not before, the upcoming season-opening race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, considering the fact that this is the first race weekend of the season and therefore not all data needed to use the formula is obtainable.
Qualifying order for the upcoming race weekend is set to be determined the same way it was for last year’s Daytona 500 instead.
The top 20 cars in the owner standings from last year are set to occupy the final 20 spots (spots randomly drawn among those 20 cars), while everybody else is set to have their qualifying spots randomly drawn for the spots ahead of those 20. This is set to be the case for all three national series this weekend: the Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series.
For those who need a refresher, the formula that is slated to be used down the road is based on the following four factors:
- Rank in owner standings: 35%
- Finish in previous race (driver): 25%
- Finish in previous race (car owner): 25%
- NOTE: These two 25% factors are effectively one category of 50% for full-time drivers
- Rank of driver’s fastest lap in previous race: 15%
Let rank in owner standings be A, driver’s finish in previous race be B, car owner’s finish in previous race be C, and rank of driver’s fastest lap in previous race be D. This produces the following formula: [(A * .35) + (B * .25) + (C * .25) + (D * .15)].
The driver with the lowest value is scored as the best and the driver with the highest value is scored as the worst.
The second race weekend of the 2022 season, which is set to feature only an Xfinity Series race (Saturday, February 26) and a Cup Series race (Sunday, February 27) is scheduled to take place at Auto Club Speedway. Following the season-opening race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, the Truck Series has a weekend off and is then scheduled to be back in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, March 4.