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NASCAR to Return to Single Car Qualifying at Oval Tracks

It’s official. The failed experiment that was group drafting qualifying on oval tracks has officially been abolished.

NASCAR officials announced on Wednesday that all three National Series (Cup, Xfinity and Truck) will return to single-car qualifying sessions beginning this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

At tracks that are 1.25-miles long or longer teams will get one timed qualifying lap. At tracks with a distance of less than 1.25-miles teams will get two timed qualifying laps. According to the sanctioning body it was a mutual decision to change things between all parties involved.

“It was (a) unified (decision) between broadcasters, teams and NASCAR,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior VP of competition, said of returning to single-car runs.

“One of the other things to make a compelling program out of it is we’ve seen the use of the ghost car (on television). That’s going to be a big element in presenting a quality show. I think fans are going to be able to see which drivers drive in deep, which drivers roll the middle faster and get off the corners faster and really give the talent in the booth something to talk about.”

With the return of single-car qualifying, the multiple round elimination style qualifying format has also been dropped as well.

Group qualifying had been a black eye on the sport all throughout the opening portion of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Each passing week brought up new problems which then came with more rule changes each time. Qualifying at Auto Club Speedway was especially embarrassing as no car took a single timed lap in the final round of the session.

Now the cat and mouse pit road waiting games are over.

Another cool thing about the return to single-car qualifying is that NASCAR will build two-minute television commercial breaks in the action so every team and every car has a chance to be covered on live television.

“Another interesting aspect is every team has a good shot of getting covered during the qualifying session,” Miller said. “We’re building in a few two-minute breaks to where TV can get some spots in and not break away from live action. That’s one of the goals in this, and I think with those designated spots and breaks we will be able to present almost a whole qualifying session live without going away.”

Toby Christie View All

Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.

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