NASCAR: What if Cup qualifying gets rained out?

Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

If NASCAR Cup Series qualifying is rained out, NASCAR is set to determine the starting lineups the way the qualifying order would have been determined.

The weather forecast for the NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the fifth of the 36-race 2022 season, was never looking promising.

Things haven’t changed, and storms have already affected the track ahead of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

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The weather has cast doubt on the idea of Saturday’s qualifying session around the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) high-banked and newly repaved and reconfigured oval in Hampton, Georgia taking place as planned.

So what if qualifying gets rained out?

During the 2020 season, when practice and qualifying sessions weren’t taking place due to COVID-19-related restrictions, NASCAR came up with a starting lineup formula.

That formula is as follows.

  • Rank in owner standings: 35%
  • Finish in previous race (driver): 25%
  • Finish in previous race (car owner): 25%
    • NOTE: For full-time drivers, these two 25% categories are effectively one category of 50%
  • Rank of driver’s fastest lap in previous race: 15%

For this season, that formula has been used to instead determine the qualifying order, as qualifying sessions are back on a regular basis.

Qualifying sessions consist of two rounds, both single-car rounds. In the first round, there are two groups, and each driver makes a single-lap run.

The top five drivers in each group move on to round two, where they all get another single-lap run. The results of the second round determine the top 10, and the results of the opening round determine the rest of the starting lineup.

Should qualifying be canceled, the starting lineup would be set by the starting lineup-turned-qualifying order formula shared above.

UPDATE: It has now been confirmed that qualifying for Sunday’s race will not take place. With Friday’s on-track activity, including Cup Series practice, canceled, practice is now scheduled to take place on Saturday, and no qualifying session will be held. Sunday’s race is still due to take place as scheduled, though that is subject to change.

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Tune in to Fox at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon for the live broadcast of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. FuboTV is offering free trials to new customers, so don’t miss out on the chance to start yours today!