CONCORD, N.C. -- Changes are coming to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2016, and they'll be evident as soon as this weekend.
The first announced procedural change revolves around maximum field sizes and the corresponding new points system.
In Sprint Cup races, the field can be a maximum of 40 cars -- 36 Charter team cars and four open team cars -- with the winner earning 40 points and the 40th-place finisher awarded one point.
The points systems apply to driver, owner and manufacturer championships.
Changes are also coming to qualifying, beginning with this Sunday's Daytona 500 qualifying.
For the Great American Race, 36 Charter teams will be assigned a starting position through qualifying or the two Duel races. Four open teams attempting to qualify for the event will be eligible for starting positions as well.
The highest-finishing open team in each Duel race will earn a starting position, and the final two starting positions will go to the open teams based on Sunday's qualifying.
Sunday's qualifying sets the front row for the Daytona 500 in addition to the starting field for the following Thursday's Duel races, and the number of Charter teams and open teams will be split evenly through both Duels.
Contingency plans are also in place. If qualifying is cancelled due to weather, the top two finishing open teams from both Duels will earn starting positions in the 500. If the second Duel is cancelled, the highest-finishing open team from the first Duel earns a starting position with the other three determined by qualifying. If both Duels are cancelled due to weather, qualifying will determine all four open teams. If qualifying and both Duels are cancelled, the combined practice speeds will determine the four open teams. If all on-track activity prior to the Daytona 500 is cancelled due to weather, 2015 owner points will be used to select the four open teams.
For all other Sprint Cup races after the Daytona 500, qualifying will similarly determine the starting positions of 36 Charter teams and four open teams. If qualifying is cancelled due to weather, the combined practice speeds will determine the four open teams. And if both practice and qualifying are cancelled due to weather, owner points will determine the four open teams, with the first three races of the season utilizing 2015 owner points.
The final procedural change for the 2016 season includes the addition of an "overtime line."
The line comes into effect during green-white-checkered attempts, and the location will vary by track.
After taking the green on an "overtime" restart, if the leader passes the overtime line before a caution comes out, it will be considered a "clean restart" and a valid green-white-checkered attempt. If a caution comes out before the leader passes the line on the first lap under green, however, it will not be considered a valid attempt and subsequent attempts can be made until a valid one occurs.
Once a clean restart occurs, it will become the only attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. If a caution comes out at any further point, the field will be frozen and the checkered/yellow or checkered/red will be displayed to cars at the finish line.