As the NASCAR Cup Series prepares to begin its 2024 season, some small tweaks are being made to the series’ single-vehicle qualifying procedures, officials from NASCAR officially revealed on Tuesday.
The original premise of the format will remain unchanged — with all vehicles entered being split into two groups based on NASCAR’s performance metric, in which the fastest five drivers from each of the two groups will advance to the final round of qualifying.
This format has been used in the NASCAR Cup Series for the last two seasons, with the drivers that weren’t fast enough to advance into the final round of qualifying being compiled together and ranked by fastest lap time.
Starting in 2024 – excluding the Daytona 500, which has its own qualifying format – that will no longer be the case.
In an attempt to make the system more equitable, NASCAR will be leaving the drivers not quick enough to advance in their respective groups when setting the starting lineup, with Group A drivers being put on the outside row, and Group B drivers on the inside row.
This format alteration was reached based on feedback from the industry. In numerous situations, the rapidly changing conditions of the racetrack would often provide one group with an advantage over the other, which would dramatically skew qualifying results.
The goal for NASCAR in changing the format is to eliminate any extreme variances in starting position that would come as a result of the track either significantly slowing down or picking up speed between groups.