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NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Procedure

Due to no practice and qualifying for the remainder of the season, the following procedure will be used for the remainder of 2020 to set the starting lineups:

NASCAR will now use three competition-based performance metrics to determine the starting lineup – including the Busch Pole Award in the NASCAR Cup Series and the Cometic Gaskets Pole Award in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series – and pit selection order for each race, replacing the random draw procedure that has been in place for a majority of races since NASCAR’s return to racing at Darlington Raceway in May.

NASCAR will reward both season-long and single-race performance to determine the lineup and pit selection, using owner points position and the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

The metrics will be weighted and averaged to establish the starting order. Points position will be weighted at 35%; finishing position at 50%; fastest race lap at 15%.

When the Playoffs begin, Playoff cars will fill the top starting positions. For instance, in the Round of 16, the top 16 starting positions will be Playoff cars; in the Round of 12, the top 12 starting positions will be Playoff cars; and so on.

UPDATE: Starting at Darlington, NASCAR will also consider owner’s finishing position, for those teams that change drivers.  The new wording is:

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous Event. 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the Owner Points position. Any ties will be broken by the Rule Book.


“Regular” qualifying procedures are as follows:

In May 2019, NASCAR announced a return to single car qualifying for all oval tracks. The following provisions apply to all qualifying sessions.

This information adapted from the NASCAR rule book.

At tracks 1.25 miles long or less:

  • Qualifying consist of two timed laps.
  • Vehicles will be lined up and released based on random draw. The top 20 qualifying owners from the previous race that are present at the current race will be the final 20 positions in the qualifying order based on the random draw. The balance of the field will draw for the first qualifying positions.

At tracks more than 1.25 miles long:

  • Qualifying consist of one timed lap.
  • Vehicles will be lined up and released based on random draw. The top 20 qualifying owners from the previous race that are present at the current race will be the final 20 positions in the qualifying order based on the random draw. The balance of the field will draw for the first qualifying positions.

Road course races:

  • Qualifying consist of two rounds.
  • The first round is 25 minutes.
  • The 12 eligible vehicles that post the fastest single lap speed and competed in the first round advance to the final round.
  • The remaining eligible vehicles will be assigned starting grid positions 13th – 40th based on their fastest single lap speed posted in the first  round in descending order.
  • There will be a five minute break after the completion of the first  round and the 12 remaining vehicles that advance to the final round will have their  posted speed reset.
  • The final round is 10 minutes.

Race eligibility:

Eligibility for starting grid positions for each race, except for the Daytona 500, will be determined as follows:

  • 36 Charter Teams will be eligible for and assigned a starting grid position.
  • 4 Open Teams will be eligible for starting grid positions.
  • For the first 3 Events, if qualifying is cancelled due to adverse conditions, combined practice speeds will determine eligibility for 4 Open Teams. The starting grid positions for the entire field will be determined by the previous year’s NASCAR Cup Series Team Owner Points standings.
  • During any subsequent Event, if qualifying is cancelled due to adverse conditions, NASCAR Cup Series Team Owner Points standings will determine eligibility for 4 Open Teams and the starting grid for the entire field for that Event.

Weather:

  • At road courses, if the final qualifying round is not ccompleted due to weather or other adverse circumstances, eligibility for the race will be determined based on the most recent completed round.
  • At oval tracks, if the first Qualifying round is not completed due to weather or other adverse circumstances:
    • Starting positions will be assigned based on Team Owner Points standings, in descending order.
    • The next available position(s) will be assigned to eligible Open Team(s) who entered the vehicle in that Event prior to the entry deadline in the order in which their vehicle number was selected during the random drawing for that Event.
    • The next available starting grid position(s), if any, will be assigned to eligible Open Team(s) who entered the vehicle in that Event after the entry deadline based on Team Owner Points standings

Daytona 500:

The Qualifying process for the Daytona 500 is scheduled to be a 2-step process:

  1. Qualifying (two rounds of single vehicle qualifying)
  2. Two 150-mile qualifying races

As a general rule, eligibility for starting grid positions for the Daytona 500 Event will be determined as follows:

  • 36 Charter Teams will be eligible for and assigned a starting grid position
  • 4 Open Teams will be eligible for starting grid positions
    • Open Team with highest finishing position in each Qualifying Race will be eligible for a starting grid position
    • Remaining Open Teams will be eligible for 2 starting grid positions based on final Qualifying results
  • If Qualifying is rained out, Qualifying Race finishing positions determine eligibility of 4 Open Teams (2 from each Qualifying Race)
  • If Qualifying Race 2 is rained out, Qualifying Race 1 determines eligibility for 1 Open Team; Qualifying determines eligibility for 3 Open Teams
  • If Qualifying Race 1 and Qualifying Race 2 are rained out, Qualifying determines eligibility for 4 Open Teams
  • If Qualifying, Qualifying Race 1&2 are rained out, combined practice speeds determine eligibility for 4 Open Teams
  • If Practice, Qualifying, Qualifying Race 1&2 are rained out, previous season’s Team Owner Points standings determine eligibility for 4 Open positions

Notes:

  • When two or more drivers have the same qualifying speed, the starting positions for those vehicles will be assigned based on NASCAR Cup Series Team Owner Points standings in descending order. If owners are tied in points, the driver setting the duplicate speed first will take the higher position.
  • Fore more information on pre-and post-qualifying inspection, see the At-track inspection penalty protocol page