DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Earlier this week, NASCAR announced several competition changes that will affect the 2013 season, including a new qualifying format in the Sprint Cup Series that places a greater emphasis on speed.
Here is a breakdown of the Cup competition updates:
In Sprint Cup competition, the series will move to a 36-6-1 format where the fastest 36 cars will make the race on speed.
The next six highest ranking cars in owners points that have not already earned a starting position through qualifying and who have entered the event by the posted entry deadline will also make the field. The final starting position will be awarded to the most recent eligible past champion driver. If there is no eligible past champion driver, then a seventh car will make the field based upon owners points.
Provisional positions in the 36-6-1 format will be lined up by owners points, not speed.
Since 2005, the top 35 cars in owners points were guaranteed a spot in the field. Now, only a maximum of seven cars will be locked into a given race.
In 2013, the qualifying order for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events will return to a random draw. However, in the event qualifying is canceled due to rain, the field will be set per the rule book and the starting lineup will continue to be determined by practice speeds.
Beginning next season in the Sprint Cup Series, there will be up to four tests per organization available to teams at tracks at which the series competes. Since 2009, teams could only test at tracks that did not hold NASCAR national series events.
“We feel like it’s time to open that up and allow the teams to manage their testing and get back to facilities that host our events,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “We made the decision at the end of 2008 to restrict testing, primarily for economic reasons. Now we believe it will be best for the garage and for the tracks to have some testing return in 2013.”