DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
NASCAR has unveiled a second wave of rules and procedural changes, specific to both the 58th running of the DAYTONA 500 and the remainder of the 2016 season across all three national series, ahead of the opening to DAYTONA Speedweeks on Friday.
Among the rules outlined in the bulletin were the confirmation of maximum field sizes for all three national series (Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck), changes to each series’ championship points system, the unveiling of the new qualifying procedure for the Sprint Cup field with the advent of the charter system (as well as additional qualifying rules specific to the DAYTONA 500) and the announcement of new rules for NASCAR’s green-white-checkered “overtime” policy.
Field Sizes and Points Systems
With the adjustment of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field from 43 down to a maximum of 40 cars, the Cup championship points system has been updated. Race winners will now receive 40 points, with a reduction on one point per position down to the 40th-place driver, who will receive one point.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series will remain at a 40-car maximum starting field in 2016, and as such will utilize the same championship points structure as the Sprint Cup Series.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ points system has been updated to a 32-to-1 format, to reflect that series’ maximum of 32 trucks in its starting fields.
All bonus points awarded from the 2015 points system will still apply. The race winner will receive three bonus points, with one point awarded for leading a lap and an additional point awarded to the driver who leads the most laps in a NASCAR national series event.
The new points systems will apply to the drivers, owners and manufacturers championships.
Sprint Cup Qualifying Procedures
With NASCAR’s new Charter system in place for the 2016 Sprint Cup season, the qualifying procedure for the DAYTONA 500 — as well as the remainder of the 35 races on the schedule — has been updated accordingly.
The 36 Charter teams will be guaranteed a starting spot in the 58th running of the DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 21, with the remaining four positions available to Open teams as outlined in Tuesday’s NASCAR press conference.
Of those four Open starting spots:
— The highest-finishing Open team in each of the two Can-Am Duels at Daytona (Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. ET; FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) will receive a DAYTONA 500 starting spot.
— The final two Open starting spots will be awarded to the fastest two Open teams in Coors Light Pole Qualifying that did not race their way in via the Can-Am Duels.
The front row of the DAYTONA 500 will be set during Sunday’s Coors Light Pole Qualifying Session, as will the lineups for the Can-Am Duels, with the remainder of the starting field being organized according to the finishing orders of those Duels. Should an Open team successfully qualify on the front row, they will be “locked in, and only one team would be taken by their qualifying speed after the Duels,” according to NASCAR Senior Vice President Steve O’Donnell, who spoke to Race Chaser Online on Twitter after the rules were released.
If qualifying is cancelled due to weather, the top two Open teams in each Can-Am Duel will advance to the 500. Conversely, if the Duels are adversely affected by weather, the Open positions on the grid will revert to qualifying — should the second Duel be rained out, three positions will be awarded on speed; should both Duels be rained out, all four positions would be awarded on speed.
In the event of qualifying and the Can-Am Duels being rained out, combined practice speeds will determine the four Open teams that would make the field for the DAYTONA 500. Should all on-track activity be cancelled prior to the race, then the four Open positions would be determined by 2015 Car Owner points.
For all other championship points events, the fastest four Open teams in qualifying will make the race each week. If qualifying is rained out, then combined practice speeds would determine those four cars and if both practice and qualifying are cancelled, then owner points would set the teams in place. (2015 points will be used through race three and 2016 points will take effect beginning at Phoenix.)
The sanctioning body has also updated their procedures on green-white-checkered finishes, featuring a new “overtime line” for the 2016 season. The location of the line will vary by track.
The new procedure is as follows:
— Once the leader takes the green flag on the overtime restart, if he/she then passes the overtime line on the first lap under green flag conditions before a caution comes out, constituting a “clean restart,” the attempt will be considered valid.
— However, if a caution comes out before the leader passes the overtime line on the first lap under green, the attempt will not be considered a valid attempt, the field will be realigned and a subsequent attempt will be made.
— There will be no limit to the number of overtime attempts that can be made until a valid attempt occurs.
— Once a valid attempt is achieved (clean restart), it will become the only attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. If a caution comes out at any time during the valid green-white-checkered attempt, the field will be frozen and the checkered/yellow or checkered/red displayed to cars at the finish line, signifying the conclusion of the event.
“As the biggest race fan in Texas, I love the new NASCAR overtime procedure,” said Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage. “Let’s line them up and turn them loose, give them a chance to race through at least the first couple of turns and halfway down the backstretch before it’s an official race finish. And if they can’t get that far before the yellow comes out, let’s line them up again and again and again until it’s a clean run. Man, this is like trying to stuff 50 pounds of excitement into a 10-pound bag. How can any fan not like this?”
12-time NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. also chimed in about the new rules, calling them “good moves all around” and saying that they were “the direct result of a collective effort from both NASCAR and the Drivers’ Council working together.”
Previous to 2016, NASCAR allowed a maximum of three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish across all race tracks, but reduced that number to just one attempt at Talladega last October. That change was made in an effort to “balance an exciting finish with safety for all competitors.”
DAYTONA Speedweeks officially kicks off on Friday evening, with practice for the non-points Sprint Unlimited beginning at 5 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
For more information, including a full schedule of events leading up to the 58th running of the DAYTONA 500, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
Email Race Chaser Online: [email protected]
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews