Say goodbye to the top-35 rule in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, event qualifying is going back to actually being competition.
NASCAR announced a new qualifying format Tuesday to set the starting fields for Sprint Cup Series events in 2013. The new format will put the top-36 fastest cars in qualifying into the field. Six other spots will be reserved for the top-six teams in the owner points standings not already qualified into an event on speed. The final spot in starting fields will be awarded to the most recent eligible past series champion entered into the event not already qualified. If there is not driver eligible for that spot, the position wil be awarded to seventh best car in the owner standings not already in the field.
The change does away with the top-35 rule, which had locked the top-35 teams in the owners standings into the starting field for each event no matter what they did in qualifying.
“This is a big win for our fans,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said in a release from the sanctioning body. “They’ll see the fastest cars earn their starting spots. This change adds intrigue, drama and excitement to qualifying.”
Qualifying order will return to being a random draw in 2013. If qualifying is rained out the field will be set per the rule book and the starting lineup will continue to be determined by practice speeds. Provisional spots in the series based upon the previous year’s owner points for the first three races of the season.
NASCAR also announced Tuesday that fields for the NASCAR Nationwide Series will be decreased from 43 to 40 cars for the 2013 season.