New qualifying format for Sprint Cup road course races

The two road-course races in the Sprint Cup Series this year will have a new qualifying procedure.

NASCAR announced on Monday that a group-based format will be used in the road- course events at Sonoma Raceway (June 23) and Watkins Glen International (Aug. 11). Teams will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car runs held on the oval tracks.

The number of groups and the amount of cars in each group will depend on the number of teams that practice for the race. Group assignments will be based on final practice times.

Each qualifying group is on the track for a set period of time, which is to be determined by the Sprint Cup Series director.

A driver's best lap time during the group session will be the qualifying lap time of record. A group's time begins when the first car receives the green flag at the start/finish line.

"The change will add an exciting element to road-course qualifying," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. "Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased competition with several cars on track at once."

This is the same qualifying procedure that is currently used for road-course races in NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Touring Series competition.