NASCAR announces starting line-up procedures as season gets under way
NASCAR officials released information Tuesday about starting line-up and pit-selection procedures, plus a modified competition caution process to allow for more wide-ranging adjustments for upcoming events scheduled without practice or qualifying.
Three of the next four events on the revised NASCAR Cup Series schedule will be held without Busch Pole Qualifying to determine a starting line-up; only the Coca-Cola 600 on 24 May will include time trials to set the field. The decision was made to host multiple events without practice and limited qualifying to restrict exposure and at-track time for crews in the wake of the coronavirus health crisis.
Starting line-up procedures for events without qualifying
When the series hosts its first event after the pandemic outbreak on 17 May at Darlington Raceway, the line-up will be determined in part by a random draw for starting positions:
- Positions 1-12 will be determined by a random draw from charter teams in those positions in team owner points
- Positions 13-24: Random draw among charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 25-36: Random draw among charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 37-40 will be filled out by open, non-chartered teams in order of owner points
The starting line-up for the next Cup Series event, scheduled 20 May at Darlington, will use the finishing order from May 17 as the basis for two inversions:
- Starting positions 1-20: The top 20 finishers from the 17 May event will be inverted for the start of the 20 May race
- Starting positions 21-40: The bottom 20 finishers from the 17 May event will be inverted for the start of the 20 May race; any new entries will be placed at the tail of the field
Pit-stall selection for the 17 May event will be based on charter team owner points, then open team owner points. Pit selection for 20 May will be determined by the finishing order of the 17 May race.
For the two NASCAR Cup Series events scheduled at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the starting line-up will be determined by:
- 24 May: Same day qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600
- 27 May: An inversion of positions 1-20, then positions 21-40 from the Coca-Cola 600 results
Pit-selection for Charlotte events will be determined 24 May by qualifying and then 27 May by the results of Coca-Cola 600.
Modified competition caution process introduced for events with no practice
All three NASCAR national series will have a modified competition caution in the early portions of each race. Those stoppages will include freezing the field to accommodate longer pit stops, allowing teams to make more extended in-race adjustments that might normally be made during practice.
That modified competition caution procedure includes:
- Freezing the running order at the time of the caution period
- Granting the free pass for the first car one lap down
- No wave-around rule will be in effect for the competition caution
- Pit road opens to the top 20, then the next 20 on the following lap
- Each car will keep its position at the time of the caution, provided it beats the pace car off pit road
- The pit cycle repeats, with the top 20 then next 20 allowed to pit a second time
- Teams that do not beat the pace car off pit road will lose a lap and restart at the tail of the field; teams that pit more than twice or outside of their designated pit window will also restart at the tail of the field.
- The line-up will be reset according to the frozen running order for the restart