Qualifying and testing changes in NASCAR for 2013

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NASCAR is finally shaking things up as we wrap up the next five races of the Chase and prepare for the 2013 racing season. They are making adjustments in three areas: NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying , NASCAR Nationwide Series starting grid and NASCAR testing.

The NSCS will be going to a 36-6-1 format, which means the fastest 36 cars will make the race on speed, instead of the outdated top 35 rule. In the top 35, the top 35 cars in owner points were already locked into the race – before qualifying. Your only excitement was to see which start and park, or no name drivers would show up to try and qualify to make it in on speed. Now only six cars will be locked into the race on owner points, the other 36 cars will have to qualify on speed. The last spot will go to the most recent champion that wasn’t able to qualify on speed nor was in the top six of owner points. If there is no past champion, then they will use the driver with the 7th most owner points.

This is good for NASCAR and for the fans. NASCAR hadn’t changed qualifying since 2005 – and many were saying the system was outdated. Back in the day when 50 plus cars would show up for qualifying – it made sense. But not anymore. With sometimes only 40 drivers showing up to qualify, everyone would make the race as it is. There have been a handful of times this season that all 43 drivers that showed up at the track were going to be in the race – no matter where they qualified.

NASCAR is also going back to a random draw opposed to who was fastest in first practice to determine qualifying order.  Who knows exactly how this will work but it will be a change since normally the fastest cars would go out last – but now they could go out in any order depending on their draw. It goes to say that some teams were not running their qualifying package until the second practice to influence their qualifying position by ensuring they would qualify when the temperature was lower.

If qualifying is rained out, drivers will start based on their practice speeds though like in previous years. The rulebook will determine exactly who gets in and who goes home.

43 drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is no more. NASCAR announced today that the maximum number of entries into a NNS race will be 40. NASCAR is hoping that this change will create a sense of urgency for the teams to make the races and strengthen the ownership base.

NASCAR is also changing their testing policy. Since 2009 NASCAR did not allow testing at NASCAR tracks with the exception of tire test. Teams were only allowed to test at tracks that were not on the schedule.  Starting for the 2013 season, organizations in the NSCS will be allowed up to four testing sessions at a track that the series competes. NNS and Truck Series organizations will be allowed two testing sessions. If the organization has an official Suno Rookie of the Year Candidate then that team will receive one additional test.