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Talladega qualifying moves to FOX

April 16, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Talladega qualifying moves to FOX
Talladega will be the first restrictor-plate qualifying in the group format

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The first group NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session on a restrictor-plate track will be broadcast on network television.

Qualifying for next month's event at Talladega Superspeedway will move to FOX, and be aired from 1-2:30 p.m. ET on May 3. The session will consist of three segments, the first of which will have all entered cars on the 2.66-mile track at the same time, and during which drafting will likely determine the top speed. The fastest 24 cars advance to the second segment, and the fastest 12 to the final segment, which will determine the pole.

"This move is a direct result of the double-digit ratings gains NASCAR's new knockout qualifying format is delivering every weekend," said Bill Wanger, Executive Vice President of Programming, Research & Content Strategy. "We are thrilled to be able to highlight this new format on FOX, and what more exciting place to do that than Talladega Superspeedway."

Group qualifying is used for all Sprint Cup points events with the exception of the Daytona 500, which retains its traditional qualifying format combining single-lap speeds and qualifying races. That means Talladega will be the first restrictor-plate track to employ the format when it determines the lineup for next month's race.

"I think qualifying is going to be spectacular," three-time NASCAR champion and FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip said Tuesday during a visit to Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. "Lots of strategy and mind games. Who does a driver draft with? How does that driver draft -- lay back and get a run and suck up to the driver in front of you? It’s going to be a cat-and-mouse game, a chess match. Can’t wait to see it."

Both Sprint Cup qualifying sessions last year at Talladega were cancelled due to weather. David Ragan is the defending winner of the spring race at the Alabama track, while Jamie McMurray claimed the event in the fall.

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