The new qualifying rules for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at road courses should be familiar to fans of the NASCAR Nationwide Series:
• Cars will be assigned to one of five or six groups based on first practice speeds, slowest to fastest.
• Each qualifying group will be on-track for a set period of time, determined by the Series Director, and each car likely will receive three laps at full speed.
• A car’s best lap time during its 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 new format of qualifying at Watkins Glen International enhances the fan experience which is our top priority," President of Watkins Glen Michael Printup said earlier this year. “Qualifying on Saturday for our Cheez-It 355 at The Glen is even more of a not-to-be missed aspect of a weekend of high-quality racing.”
The new qualifying has already undergone a test run at Sonoma Raceway earlier this year. In that event, Jamie McMurray won the Coors Light Pole, edging out Marcos Ambrose. Both drivers were in the final group to qualify.