CONCORD, N.C. -- The NASCAR Cup Series announced the full schedule for practice and qualifying for the 2022 season on Friday that will showcase different methods to determine the starting order for the different types of tracks.
Overall, all 36 points-paying Cup races are expected to have qualifying this year with four unique formats: one for ovals, one for superspeedways, one for road courses and one for the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
On superspeedways, there will be two rounds to determine the starting order. The entire field will participate in round one and each single car will race one lap for the fastest speed time. The top-10 fastest drivers will move on to the final round where the process will be repeated. The fastest driver in that round will earn the Busch Pole Award.
For ovals, there will be two groups based on even/odd finishes from the previous race. There will be a 15-minute practice and then Group A will race in a single-car format for one lap for the fastest time. Group B will do the same, and the five fastest drivers from each group will move on to the final round. Like sthe superspeedway plan, the fastest driver in that final group will earn the pole.
Road courses will see a 20-minute practice with two groups. Each group will have a 15-minute timed session, and the five fastest drivers from each group will transfer to the final round. There will be a 10-minute timed session for that last round where the fastest driver will secure the pole.
For the second year in a row, the Bristol dirt race will return and will bring a completely unique setup to practice and qualifying. There will be two 50-minute practices followed by four qualifying races to lay out the starting lineup. The drivers will be placed in one of the qualifying races by a random draw. How the drivers finish in their qualifying race will determine the starting order at the half-mile dirt track.
It’s the first time in nearly two years that a full schedule of practice and qualifying have returned after the COVID-19 pandemic relegated most races to being one-day shows. Previously, the starting order for most of the races were set by an algorithm set by the drivers’ performances during the previous race.
“NASCAR is excited to return practice and qualifying to its race weekends,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “We missed seeing cars and trucks on track all weekend long, and so did our fans. We worked closely with our broadcast partners, teams and racetracks to create an exciting, unique qualifying format, while keeping several of the efficiencies that helped our entire industry successfully navigate the pandemic.”
During six NASCAR Cup Series weekends, there will be an extended practice that will have one 50-minute practice as well as a qualifying session. For example, an extra session will be used at Daytona International Speedway’s Speedweeks as the field prepares for the 2022 DAYTONA 500. The practice session for the first event of the year will be Feb. 16 and the DAYTONA 500 will take place on Feb. 20.
The other extended practice weekends will be for the first Atlanta Motor Speedway race on March 20, the Bristol dirt race on April 17, World Wide Technology Raceway on June 5, Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, and the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 6.