By Al Pearce, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Jan. 27, 2014) — NASCAR has junked its ages-old, single-car qualifying format in favor of a convoluted system that will often change from track to track.
The organization said the change will reduce the lengthy, oft-times boring and unrelenting full-field qualifying from upwards of two hours to less than an hour. The new format for all series announced Jan. 22 will be in effect for all tracks except next month for Sprint Cup at Daytona International Speedway and the mid-summer Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.
Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the new format will be "more fan-friendly" and provide "better competition" and "will be better for everyone—television, fans, track owners, sponsors and teams."
He added: "We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format. This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online.
"For the drivers and teams, we believe this new qualifying will fuel even greater competition leading into the events. Additionally, it provides our tracks, broadcasters and other key partners with a greater opportunity to develop more entertaining content for our race weekends."
Mr. Pemberton said teams will be limited to one set of tires for the entire qualifying session. In addition, teams may make adjustments only during the short breaks between sessions, not once a session has begun. Additionally, those adjustments will be limited to wedge and track bar movement—and tire pressures. Hoods cannot be raised except to made front-end adjustments.