NASCAR outlined changes to qualifying and its points structure Thursday, in addition to a tweak to its overtime format.
The qualifying and points changes were a reflection of the new “charter” system for Cup teams that was announced earlier this week. There were also alterations made for qualifying for the Daytona 500, which begins Sunday and continues Feb. 18.
Among the key changes:
▪ With fields being reduced to 40 cars (from 43), the race winner will receive 40 points, second-place 39, and so on. Xfinity (40 cars) and Trucks (32) will change accordingly. Drivers will continue to receive various bonus points.
▪ All 36 charter teams will have spots in the field and four “open” teams will be eligible. The top four open teams in qualifying will earn spots in the field. If qualifying is canceled due to weather, combined practice speeds will determine the four open teams. If practice is canceled, owners points will determine the open teams.
▪ At Daytona, all 36 charter teams will have spots in the field. The four open teams will be determined by the two highest finishers in the Feb. 18 Duel race fields and the two highest finishers in Sunday’s qualifying (if not different from the Duel finishers).
The Daytona front row will continue to be determined by Sunday’s qualifying. The number of charter teams will be split evenly in the Duel races.
▪ The green-white-checkered finish now includes an “overtime line,” which will vary at each track. The race cannot end until the leader passes the line. When that happens, it will be considered a clean restart and the race can go on and finish. But until the leader passes the line, there is no limit to the number of restarts the race can have.
The new overtime rule would likely eliminate what happened last fall at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where the race ended under caution after a Kevin Harvick-caused accident brought out a yellow flag on the second restart. Joey Logano was declared the winner after it was ruled he was slightly ahead of Dale Earnhardt when the caution flag flew.
Earnhardt, who needed to win that race to advance in the Chase, said via Twitter on Thursday: “I like these changes a lot. Good all around.”