NASCAR News: Single-Car Qualifying for all Series is Back!
NASCAR announced Wednesday it will return to single-car qualifying for its three national series at all oval tracks.
The change will take effect this weekend at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR has also abandoned the use of multiple elimination-style rounds.
The move ends NASCAR's reliance on the group qualifying format, which the sanctioning body adopted in 2014.
That group format had been criticized by competitors and fans alike, especially this season. The biggest issue: teams realized that by going out later in a session they could post faster speeds drafting behind other cars, making drivers reluctant to go out early in a round. That led to cars waiting around on pit road, sometimes taking that waiting game to absurd lengths — earlier this year, not a single driver started his qualifying lap in time for the final round at Auto Club Speedway.
NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said after that incident drivers had made a “mockery out of the qualifying.”
According to Miller, the return to single-car qualifying was a "unified (decision) between broadcasters, teams and NASCAR."
“We talked about a whole lot of other things but nothing really jumped out as something that would work for us over the long haul except this,” Miller told NBC Sports.
“Group qualifying worked at some tracks. There’s no question about it, but to be consistent … this is where we landed, this is what will work in our eyes everywhere.”
The group format will still be used for the three road-course events. At oval tracks larger than 1.25 miles, drivers will get a single qualifying lap, at shorter tracks they will get two laps.
NASCAR is also changing how the order in which drivers qualify will be determined, using the previous race's starting lineup as a guideline. The top 20 starters from that race will draw for qualifying positions 21-40. The other teams will draw for qualifying spots in positions 1-20.
“To make a compelling show, we need to make sure that a car that stands a chance to win the pole is actually the last car out,” Miller told NBC. “We think that typically that everybody that qualifies in the top 20 at an event, stands a chance of sitting on the pole at a subsequent event.”