News & Multimedia

NASCAR Adopts IndyCar Style Qualifying

One of the exciting parts of an IndyCar Series race weekend at a road and street course is the “Knockout Qualifying” which culminates with the “Firestone Fast Six.” A similar form of qualifications is used in the Indianapolis 500 when the fastest nine drivers in single-car qualifications advance to the “Fast Nine” with the pole determined among those drivers.

Those concepts are coming to the Brickyard 400 in July as NASCAR announced dramatic changes to qualifications for the 2014 season, which means all cars will be on the track for the first round of a three-round qualification format. The pole will be decided in the third and final round that pits the 12 fastest cars out of the 24-car second round in a five-minute slugfest for the pole.

Consider it three sprint races to determine the pole for the Brickyard, and that should make Saturday’s Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway even more thrilling for the Brickyard.

The same qualification format will be used for the Indiana 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, as all three of NASCAR’s national touring series will adopt the new format.

Here is how it works:

At tracks measuring 1.25 miles in length or larger, qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of three rounds:
 
The first qualifying elimination round will be 25 minutes in duration and includes all cars / trucks. The 24 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap from the first qualifying round will advance to the second round.

The remaining cars / trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.
 
The second qualifying elimination round will be 10 minutes in duration, and the 12 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap time will advance to the third and final round. The fastest remaining cars / trucks earn positions 13th through 24th based on their times posted in qualifying in descending order.
 
The third and final qualifying round will be five minutes in duration, and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.
 
There will be a five-minute break between each qualifying round.
 
At tracks measuring less than 1.25 miles, qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of two rounds:
 
The first qualifying elimination round will be 30 minutes in duration and includes all cars / trucks. The 12 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap time from the first qualifying round will advance to the second and final round.
 
The remaining cars / trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.
 
There will be a 10-minute break between the two qualifying rounds.
 
The second and final qualifying round will be 10 minutes in duration, and the fastest single lap time posted will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.
 
The new qualifying format does not apply to the Daytona 500, which will preserve its historic and unique qualifying format. Additionally, it does not apply to non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events or the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

The new format is very similar to that used by the IndyCar Series at street and road course races. IndyCar has discovered that format creates excitement and drama, as the fastest drivers to advance in each round are able to determine the pole position. And oftentimes a few surprises advance into the “Firestone Fast Six” because of the knockout format.

“We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series,” said Robin Pemberton, 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.”

With the new format expect to see even more competition and drama from the drivers behind the wheel of the race cars.

“Heck, I’m all for anything that makes it fun, not only the fans but also the drivers and teams too,” said Clint Bowyer of Michael Waltrip Racing. “This is really going shake things up on Pole Day – in a good way. I’m all for it.”

NASCAR will not award points for winning the pole similar to the old rule. Cars can go out multiple times during the session and strategy will be used by the teams when they believe they can get a clear lap or – in the case at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – when a cloud may cover the sun and bring down track temperatures to more optimal conditions.

There will be just one set of tires used for all three sessions, and the only time adjustments can be made to the car will be in the breaks between sessions.

“Well, we believe the one set of tire rule has served us well and our tire limits over the past few years,” Pemberton explained. “But as many of us remember, the day that we did have two rounds or three rounds of qualifying at any given venue, the pole speed was not always the fastest lap run of the weekend under qualifying situations.  We know there are racetracks that are a little more abusive on tires than others, but we feel this will be part of the strategy that will get played out by the teams on how they use their tires or abuse their tires during the three qualifying sessions, two or three qualifying sessions.”

With the new format, expect to hear the term “blocking” used by disgruntled drivers who believe a car in front of them kept them from a clear lap.

“As always, we'd like to leave it in the competitors' hands to conduct themselves properly during these sessions,” Pemberton explained. “We will always have the ability to make a call when we have to, but at this point in time, we are not anticipating any problems.”

Pemberton believes the new format will create additional interest in the television broadcast and hopefully gives fans more reason to attempt qualifications in advance of the race.

“I think any time you can add content, it's better for the tracks, it's better for all of us,” Pemberton said. “One of the things that this format will allow us to do, if you remember the times that we had qualifying sessions that take extended length of times, 90 minutes, two hours to get an entire field qualified one car at a time.  What this will allow us to do if we get weather that sets in, it will allow us, if we have the time and if all cars run during that first session, it will allow us to set the field in a 25?minute session.  So this will be the advantage of the competitors to get that in.

“What's fair is people look at our product.  It doesn't matter if it's a track owner, a car owner, a crew chief, a driver, a sponsor; everybody has different ideas to help move this sport forward.  It's something that we've been talking about for quite some time.  You know, you make these decisions, some benefit more than others at different times, but I don't think you could put a finger on any one group that would have encouraged anything like this.

“We have really great relationships out there and we work hard together, and these are the products that we come up with when we work hard together.”

The new qualification format will also better replicate race day conditions and setups. Under the old qualification format the fastest car in single-lap qualifications was not always the best car on race day, although at the Brickyard last July, pole winner Ryan Newman went on to win the race the following day.

“It will simulate more of a racing condition,” Pemberton said. “I also believe our competitors work as hard as they can to get any advantage that they can.  I know that throughout the summer we'll see trends develop through the race teams to get the most out of these types of sessions.

“It's hard to outguess these guys.  They're the best in the business.  We'll just have to sit back and watch how this unfolds.”
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
NASCAR Adopts IndyCar Style Qualifying
 
NASCAR Adopts IndyCar Style Qualifying
One of the exciting parts of an IndyCar Series race weekend at a road and street course is the “Knockout Qualifying” which culminates with the “Firestone Fast Six.” A similar form of qualifications is used in the Indianapolis 500 when the fastest nine drivers in single-car qualifications advance to the “Fast Nine” with the pole determined among those drivers.
Read More
Related Media
Holiday Event
 
IMS Announces Spectacular Holiday Event: 'Lights at the Brickyard' Coming in 2016
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will bring new levels of cheer to this holiday season with a spectacular “Lights at the Brickyard” seasonal event. Attendees will experience more than 40 scenes filled with 400 light displays along a 1.7-mile driving experience, which includes crossing the famous “Yard of Bricks” at IMS.
Read More
Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard
 
2017 Crown Royal Presents the "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard Date Set for Sunday, July 23
The 2017 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard, one of the marquee events in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will take place on Sunday, July 23, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Colts Draft Party
 
Indianapolis Colts to Host Fourth and Fifth Round Draft Selections at IMS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hosting the Indianapolis Colts’ Official Draft Party for the fourth and fifth rounds of the NFL Draft. Come out to IMS from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, to witness the Colts’ selections. The event is free and there will be Colts player and cheerleader appearances. You will be able to watch live picks for the rounds made by Colts personalities and Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. There will be complete draft coverage along with fun activities and games from the Indianapolis Colts organization as well.
Read More
Tony Stewart
 
NASCAR Drivers Turn Test Laps in Advance of July's Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard
NASCAR drivers Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Chase Elliott and Stewart turned laps at IMS on Tuesday and Wednesday for a Goodyear tire test in advance of the Crown Royal presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard on July 22-24.
Read More
IMS Mobile App
 
IMS Releases New and Improved Race Day Mobile App
With the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil just around the corner, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has released a new and improved IMS Mobile App.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 676
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
Starting at midnight on Sunday, you will have 500 hours to renew your #Indy500 tickets! https://t.co/xt7Q83L4rJ
about 10 minutes ago