Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Qualifying for NASCAR national touring series races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway will no longer feature a pack of cars running together.
NASCAR announced on Monday modifications to the qualifying format for Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races at restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega). It will feature the return of single-car qualifying.
Starting with the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series races at Talladega the first weekend in May, there will be two rounds of qualifying, with the top-12 posted lap speeds in the opening round advancing to the final segment.
Each driver will be allowed only one timed lap per round, and NASCAR will release each car in a predetermined timed interval. NASCAR did note that it reserves the right to have more than one car engaging in qualifying runs at the same time.
The qualifying order for the first round will be determined by a random draw, and the order for the second round will be decided by slowest to fastest speeds from the opening segment.
There will be a 10-minute break between the round. Upon completion of the first round, starting positions 13 and beyond will be determined by speeds from that segment. Positions 1-12 will be decided by fastest to slowest speeds in round two.
NASCAR will impound the cars following each qualifying lap. Those 12 cars advancing to the final round will be allowed to adjust tape and utilize a cool-down unit during the 10-minute break only.
The qualifying procedures for the 2016 Daytona 500 will be announced at a later date.
NASCAR made the changes to qualifying for Daytona and Talladega after its group format was criticized by drivers in last month's Daytona 500 qualifying. It was the first time the format was used for that race in its 57-year history.
Almost every driver had some sort of complaint about the format at Daytona. Clint Bowyer referred to it as "idiotic" after he was involved in a multi-car wreck during the first round. Denny Hamlin used the word "mayhem" to label the format, while Tony Stewart described it as "a complete embarrassment for our series" when he expressed his opinion on his Twitter account after qualifying had concluded.
There were also accidents involving many drivers in Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series qualifying at Daytona in February.
When NASCAR used the format for Sprint Cup at Talladega last October, qualifying there was chaotic and confusing, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. failing to qualify and championship Chase drivers Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Hamlin having to take a provisional (owner points) position in the starting field.