NASCAR announced changes in the Daytona group qualifying format for the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series on Wednesday. The tweaks come days after Sprint Cup Series qualifying for the front row of the Daytona 500 elicited many complaints from drivers and featured a wreck with Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson and J.J. Yeley.
The Cup Series qualifying was two five-minute rounds in the first round, followed by 24 cars in the second round for five minutes and 12 cars in the final round for five minutes. The sessions are now halved in the Xfinity Series (which qualifies Saturday) and the Truck Series (on Friday) and are 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Speaking after qualifying on Sunday, NASCAR vice president of operations Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body would continue to seek feedback about how best to qualify cars at restrictor plate tracks via the group qualifying format.
The Cup Series field was divided into two groups in the first round of qualifying. For the Xfinity and Truck Series, the first round will feature four groups. The second round of the 24 fastest times from the first round, which was one group in Cup qualifying, will now be two groups of 12 cars. The final round will feature all 12 cars that move on from the second round.
Cars will also be lined up single-file on pit road via a random draw instead of backing out of their pit stalls like at non-restrictor plate tracks, preventing the traffic jam of cars clogging the exit of pit lane to wait for the latest possible moment like on Sunday. The order of the line will be determined by speed in the second and third rounds. Once cars move, they must head out on to the track.
If NASCAR is satisfied with the changes Xfinity and Truck Series, don’t be surprised if the Cup qualifying format at Talladega is similar in May. Talladega is the next restrictor plate race on the schedule.
– – – – – – –