NASCAR announced that it will implement a group-based qualifying format for Sprint Cup Series races at the road courses this season. NASCAR currently uses the group-based format in the Nationwide Series and the Touring Series.
Under the new procedure, cars will qualify in groups at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. The number of groups and number of cars in each group will be determined by the number of cars that participate in practice for the event.
Groups will be assigned based on practice times, and each group will be on the track for a set period of time as determined by the Series Director. The session will begin when the first car takes the green flag.
The best lap run during that time will be the qualifying time of record.
Robin Pemberton, competition director for NASCAR said:
The change will add an exciting element to road-course qualifying. Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased competition with several cars on track at once.
Steve Page, president of Sonoma Raceway, said:
This is going to be a terrific new format for our NASCAR weekend. It will intensify the action, with multiple cars on the track at the same time. It’s a very positive development for our fans.
Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen, said:
The new format of qualifying at Watkins Glen International enhances the fan experience which is our top priority. Qualifying on Saturday for our Cheez-ItTM 355 at The Glen is even more of a not-to-be missed aspect of a weekend of high-quality racing.