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Changes to the points structure and the qualifying process for the Daytona 500, plus the addition of an "overtime line" will greet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams when the 2016 season kicks off this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
The changes were announced by the sanctioning body Thursday and two -- the points structure revision and qualifying format -- were adopted as a result of NASCAR's Charter system that was announced earlier this week.
Because Sprint Cup race fields going forward will consist of a maximum of 40 cars (36 Charter team cars and four Open team cars), the race winner will be awarded 40 points instead of the 43 that had been previously awarded. Second place will receive 39 points, third 38, etc., with 40th place receiving one point.
The total does not include bonus points awarded to the winner, or those awarded for leading the most laps or leading a single lap.
Likewise, the race points structure in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck series have also been re-configured based on a 40-car field for the XFINITY Series and a 32-truck field for the NCWTS. Last season, drivers in all three series earned 43 points, excluding bonus points, for finishing in first place regardless of the size of the field.
For the Daytona 500 , which is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. ET, the 36 Charter teams will be assigned a starting position based on either their qualifying effort or their result in one of the two Can-Am Duel races.
The remaining four positions will be awarded to Open teams attempting to qualify for the event.
The highest-finishing Open team in each Can-Am race will earn a starting spot in the 500. The two remaining Open positions will be determined based on Coors light Pole qualifying, if a team is not already a top finisher in one of the Duels.
As in the past, only the top two starting spots for the Daytona 500 are determined via qualifying. The starting lineup for the Can-Am Duel races will be based on qualifying results with the number of Charter and Open teams divided equally among the two fields.
If qualifying is canceled due to weather, the top two finishing Open teams in each Can-Am Duel will be awarded starting spots in the Daytona 500.
If both Duels are canceled due to weather, officials will use qualifying results to determine the four Open teams that would advance.
Should only the second Can-Am Duel be canceled due to weather, the highest finishing Open team from the first Duel would earn a starting berth, with the remaining three positions determined based on qualifying results.
Also, if no qualifying or Can-Am events are held, combined practice speeds will determine the lineup and the four Open teams; if there is no on-track activity whatsoever, 2015 owner points will be used to determine the Open teams making the 40-car field.
The final procedural change, which impacts NASCAR's green-white-checkered rule, dictates that a race may go beyond its scheduled distance only once if the race leader has advanced beyond an "overtime line."
In that instance, it will be considered a clean restart and any caution coming after that point would effectively conclude the event. Cars would proceed to the start/finish line under caution and be scored accordingly.
The location of the line will vary by track, according to officials.
After taking the green flag, if a caution flag appears before the leader has reached the overtime line, the restart will be waved off and another attempt will be made. If necessary, multiple attempts will be made until a clean restart is achieved.
The overtime line will be in effect for all three national series.