NASCAR planning multiple changes to qualifying in 2013 NASCAR is going back in time with a series of changes related to qualifying and testing. Series officials met with Sprint Cup drivers and crew chiefs Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway to detail next year's changes. They are:
--The top 35 rule, in existence since 2005, will be eliminated. This rule was in place to ensure teams in the top 35 in car owner points (and their sponsors) would be in the race in an era when 50 or more cars were attempting to qualify for races.
--The top 36 positions will be set by qualifying speed with the remaining spots set by provisionals, including a champion's provisional. Provisionals are based on car owner points rankings.
--A random draw will set the qualifying order. The past two seasons, the order was determined by speeds in the first practice session.
--Provisionals for the first three races next year will be based on the final car owner points standings this year instead of the first five races as in previous years.
--Each organization can test at four tracks of its choosing next season where NASCAR competes, the first time teams can do so since 2008. The series' sanctioning body banned testing in 2009, and since then teams could not test at tracks where NASCAR held races, but they could test on other tracks.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said the previous formats "served a purpose when we were doing other things, (but) we don't do those anymore," such as reducing the weekend schedule at an event. Series officials plan to have a practice and qualifying session Fridays and a final practice session Saturdays on weekends the Cup series races on Sundays next season. Should a driver need a provisional or multiple provisionals next year, there won't be a limit. NASCAR, however, plans to limit how a driver can use the champion's provisional. "You can't just show up'' and use a champion's provisional, Pemberton said.
As for testing, Pemberton said that each organization -- Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing --can bring two cars per driver. Thus, all four Hendrick drivers could test together and it would count as one test. The difference is that if a track will have a new tire, teams can't test with that tire unless it has been used at another track. USA Today
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