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NASCAR overhauls qualifying

The SportsXchange

NASCAR is making a significant change in its race qualifying format starting this season in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

The sport's governing body announced Wednesday that instead of the traditional two-lap run around the track to determine the pole-sitter and the starting grid, it will opt for elimination-style qualifying similar to what Formula One and the IndyCar series uses.

The new procedure, which will begin after the Daytona 500 in February, will put drivers through three sessions on 1 1/4-mile tracks in pursuit of the pole.

After the initial 25-minute run, the top 24 cars advance to the next round. The rest of the field from 25 to 43 will be set based on their lap times from the first go-around.

The top 24 will then run for 10 minutes to determine the 12 fastest cars, which will move on to a 10-minute final round that determines the pole winner.

On tracks shorter than 1 1/4 miles, qualifying will be two sessions -- 30 minutes for all cars, followed by a 10-minute round for the 12 fastest.

"We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition and racing development. "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."

Qualifying will not change for the Daytona 500, which will "preserve its historic and unique format," NASCAR said.

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