NASCAR considering qualifying format overhaul

Tom Pennington

A major change could be forthcoming in how NASCAR sets the starting lineup in its top three national series.

Qualifying in NASCAR can often be a monotonous affair with 40-plus drivers each taking single-car runs around the track. But that soon could be changing for the 2014 season.

NASCAR officials met with drivers from all three national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Trucks) Thursday and one of the items discussed was an overhaul of the current qualifying format, according to The Associated Press.

The change in qualifying procedure would see the implementation of group qualifying on all oval tracks with the exception of Daytona and Talladega -- the two restrictor-plate tracks. Group qualifying, which is already used on road courses, would divide drivers into groups, then release them onto the track for a predetermined amount of time. A driver can complete as many laps as he or she wishes in the allotted time, with a driver's best time being used to set the starting lineup.

At Daytona and Talladega, a modified version of group qualifying would be employed, where all cars would be allowed on the track at once with drivers having a 60-minute drafting session to set the field.

"It's not written in stone at this point in time," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp told The Associated Press. "We just talked about some ideas that would make things more interesting. Today was an opportunity for us to talk to the drivers about ideas, and I'm sure other ideas will come up over the next few weeks."

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