When NASCAR returns to the track on May 17, things will look very different from what fans…and the teams…have been used to for the past 70 plus years of NASCAR racing.
As the country slowly tries to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic NASCAR is looking to minimize the amount of contact team members and NASCAR officials will have with each other.
When the drivers take to the track for the race at Darlington on Sunday, they will do so with no practice…or qualifying.
Normally the starting line up for a NASCAR Cup race is determined by Busch Pole qualifying; however if qualifying is unable to take place, the field is set according to the NASCAR rule book via owner points. For the Cup race at Darlington Raceway, the starting line up will be done via a random draw with the drawing order determined by team owner points:
Teams from first to 12th draw first
Teams from 13th to 24 will draw next
Teams from 25th to 36th will draw after that
The final four spots will be determined owner points
When the drivers return to Darlington on May 20, the inversion will come into play with the results from the May 17. The top 20 finishing positions will be inverted with the driver in 20th place taking the pole. Spots 21 through 40 will also be inverted. If there are any changes in drivers for the second Darlington race, they will be placed at the back of the field.
Positions on pit road will be set by owner points for the May 17 race, but for the May 20 race, pit positions will be set according to the finishing order on May 17.
When the NASCAR Cup travels to Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24 for the longest race of the season at 600 miles, the starting line up will be determined by same day qualifying – much as the Xfinity and Gander Truck series does -; but for the May 27 race, the inversion process will again be used with spots one through 20 from the Coca-Cola 600 being inverted and spots 20 through 40 from the 600 being inverted.
Pit stall spots for the 600 will be determined after qualifying; with pit positions on May 27 being determined by Coca-Cola 600 results.
Once the race itself begins, the competition caution will be used in a modified format that includes “freezing” the field so that teams can make extended adjustments – those that would normally be made during practice. The first driver a lap down will get their lap back, but wave arounds will not be allowed. In a normal race, lead lap cars will pit first with the drivers lap(s) down going second; but with the “frozen” competition caution the top 20 drivers will go first and then the second 20 will go next. The process will repeat itself for a second pit stop.
Drivers will keep their spot on the track at the time the caution flag came out unless the driver does not exit pit road before the pace car comes back around. If a driver does not beat the pace car, they will be scored a lap down. If a driver pits more than two times or outside of their designated time will be moved to the back of the field; otherwise the field will be reset back to the running order at the time of the competition caution.
The Xfinity and Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series will also race without any practice time or a qualifying run; the field will be set via the random draw.
The Xfinity Series will use the same process as the NASCAR Cup for determining the starting lineup. Pit stall positions will be determined based on the qualifying results from the last race run prior to the shutdown at Phoenix Raceway.
With only 32 trucks in the field, the selection process for the starting line up at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26 is slightly different.
Going by team owner points the order for the random draw is…
positions one through 10 pick first
next spots eleven through 21 will pick
finally spots 22 through 32 will draw
NASCAR is allowing for more trucks in the field, the remaining teams will draw for their starting spot
When it comes to pit stall selections, the spots will be determined by the qualifying results from the February 21 race in Las Vegas – the last race run the Truck Series.