Monday morning NASCAR announced that changes will be made to the knockout style qualifying held at the superspeedways of Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway for both the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series.
The new style is a mix of the old single car format and the knock-out qualifying style. Starting during the May race weekend, May 1-3, at Talladega, car will take a single timed lap in each round of qualifying, with the officials releasing the cars at timed intervals to speed the process, so as to shorten the qualifying time unlike the previous single car format.
The Camping World Truck Series will use this format at Talladega in October for the first time.
NASCAR did add they reserve the right to have multiple cars qualifying at the same time.
There will be two rounds, with the top 12 drivers advancing to the final round following a 10-minute break. NASCAR will impound the cars after each qualifying laps, the drivers advancing to the final round will be allowed to adjust tape and use a cool-down unit during the break between the qualifying sessions.
The qualifying order for the first round of qualifying will be determined by a random draw, while the order for the second round of qualifying will be set by the slowest speed to the fastest speed from the first round.
NASCAR’s knock-out style qualifying seemed to go off without a hitch on every track but the superspeedways, drivers would team up in packs and try to hang together at the back, where the draft made the last car the fastest.
The announcement came after strong criticism from drivers like Clint Bowyer after being in a wreck that obliterated his primary car for the season opener the Daytona 500.
“We’re having fun now, aren’t we?” Bowyer said. “Just extremely disappointed and I hate to say it but I’m disappointed in NASCAR for putting us out in this situation. You’ve got guys like (Reed Sorenson) out of desperation trying to make it in a start-and-park team like that. You can’t blame him. He did a bonehead move to try to stick it in the line in there, runs into the 51, stacked us all up and tore our cars up, and then we’re not fast enough to do anything….
“There’s no sense in being able to try to put on some cute show or whatever the hell this is,” an angry Bowyer told reporters.
Denny Hamlin described the qualifying at Daytona ‘as mayhem.’ And Ryan Newman after qualifying at Daytona said, ‘this whole system makes no sense whatsoever.’
The qualifying format for the 2016 Daytona 500 will be announced at a later date.