NASCAR may overhaul qualifying in 2014
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR told its competitors Thursday it is considering eliminating single-car qualifying next season in an overhaul that would likely implement road course-style qualifying at all but two tracks.
Drivers from all three national series met with top NASCAR officials for almost two hours at the R&D Center in Concord to discuss several different ideas under consideration for 2014. The only thing officially announced by NASCAR was that it will mandate baseline concussion testing for drivers starting next season.
But series officials also outlined potential changes to qualifying procedures everywhere except Daytona and Talladega. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the field would likely be set at Daytona and Talladega with an “open qualifying session” that would allow for a 60-minute drafting session.
“It’s not written in stone at this point in time,” 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.”
NASCAR also informed drivers of a Dec. 9 test at Charlotte Motor Speedway to continue work on its intermediate track package, with Dec. 10 held as a rain date. NASCAR tested a variety of different packages Oct. 14 at Charlotte and discussed the results of those tests with drivers Thursday.
“We are just trying to do everything we can to make the racing better, particularly at the intermediate tracks,” Tharp said.
NASCAR this year implemented road course qualifying for its Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma and Watkins Glen for the first time. Under the new format, which had previously been used in the Nationwide Series, cars attempting to qualify were divided into groups. The number of groups, and the number of cars in each, depended on the number of cars that practiced for the event.
Group assignments were based on final practice times. Each qualifying group was on-track for a set period of time, determined by the series director. A car’s best lap time during the group session was the qualifying lap time of record.
NASCAR used heat races in the Truck Series to set qualifying at Eldora Speedway in July for the first time. Fans enjoyed it, but there doesn’t seem to be a push to bring it to the Sprint Cup Series.