NASCAR Makes Tweaks To Cup Qualifying Procedure


The procedure to set the field from NASCAR Cup Series qualifying will be adjusted slightly this year. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR officials announced Tuesday, at the sanctioning body’s Research & Development Center, that Cup Series qualifying procedures will be tweaked for the upcoming season.

Entries for each race will continue to be split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups for time trials, with the fastest five drivers from each group advancing to the pole round, which will set the first five rows of the grid.

However, the order of positions 11 through 40 on the starting grid will be determined slightly differently, with the exception of the Daytona 500 – which has its own unique qualifying procedure.

Previously, those drivers who did not advance to the pole round were seeded based on their overall qualifying time out of round one, regardless of group assignment.

Going forward, cars failing to advance from Group A will determine the outside row starting spots for positions 11 to 40, while those from Group B that do not advance will determine the inside row starting spots for positions 11 to 40.

No groups will be used during superspeedway qualifying. There will still be two rounds, however, with the fastest 10 drivers advancing from round one and the best time from round two securing the pole.

Officials made the change based on industry feedback. Because track conditions usually change from the start of a qualifying session to its conclusion, defining what row a driver will start from helps limit those variances between groups.

Group assignments will continue to be determined by performance metrics – a feature first employed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when qualifying was not held – which combine to form a total number based on the previous event.

Metrics are determined by four factors: 15% of a driver’s fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race finish position and 35% of the owner points position, as outlined in the NASCAR Rule Book.

Any vehicles entered with a different driver for the event than the previous race, per the rule book, will have its driver-based numbers (fastest lap and finish position) set at 41.

Driver metrics are not transferable to another vehicle.

About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.