The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will implement the group-based road-course qualifying procedure used in Nationwide and Touring Series competition during its road racing events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.
Under the new procedure, announced Monday, cars will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car runs held on ovals and for road-course events in the past.
"The change will add an exciting element to road-course qualifying," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased competition with several cars on track at once."
The new road-course qualifying rules for the Sprint Cup Series are as follows:
• Cars attempting to qualify will be divided into groups. The number of groups, and the amount of cars in each group, will depend on the number of cars that practice for the race.
• Group assignments will be based on final practice times.
• Each qualifying group will be on track for a set period of time, determined by the series director.
• A car’s best lap time during the group session will be the qualifying time of record.
• A group’s time begins when the first car takes the green flag at the start/finish line.
"The new qualifying format enhances the fan experience, which is our top priority," said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International. "Qualifying on Saturday for our Cheez-It 355 at The Glen is even more of a not-to-be missed part of the weekend."
"It will intensify the action, with multiple cars on the track at the same time," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway. "It’s a very positive development for our fans."
The new format will debut with the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 23 and will return at Watkins Glen International for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen on Aug. 11.