- Brant James, Contributor, espnW.com
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR on Thursday announced tweaks to the Sprint Cup Series' new group qualifying format after consultation with teams.
The process, which has most often been utilized in open-wheel racing on non-ovals, allows teams to make multiple qualifying runs over a set period of time. Three sessions -- of 25, 10 and five minutes -- will be used at tracks longer than 1.5 miles, with sessions of 30 and 10 minutes at those shorter than 1.5 miles. The format is set for implementation on March 2 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The most notable change to the system will be allowing for minor adjustments to race cars during qualifying. According to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, one helmeted crew member will be allowed over the wall to make tape, tire and wedge adjustments when the track is active for qualifying. Three crewmen will be permitted to work during session breaks.
"It was our feedback through the teams that when we went back and looked at the minutes of the meetings, that seemed to be the most common question," Pemberton said. "Because of the length, and really because of the length of the first round, they felt like if it was an opportunity for them to still make adjustments and still give it a little time for the tires to cool down, engine to cool down. So that was probably unanimous amongst all of our national series -- the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series."
Single-car time trials for the pole with qualifying races will remain the norm for the Daytona 500. The short track version of the new format will be used at the five road course events, Pemberton said.
NASCAR on Thursday announced tweaks to the Sprint Cup Series' new group qualifying format after consultation with teams.