New qualifying procedure in place

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Sprint Cup Series will begin using a new group qualifying procedure for road course races, beginning with the June 23 race at Sonoma Raceway.

Cars will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car runs held on ovals.

The new qualifying rules are as follows:

• Cars attempting to qualify will be divided into groups. The number of groups, and number of cars in each, will depend on the number of cars that practice for the event.

• Group assignments will be based on final practice times.

• Each qualifying group will be on-track for a set period of time, determined by the series director.

• A car's best lap time during the group session will be the qualifying lap time of record.

• A group's time begins when the first car receives the green flag at the start/finish line.

"The change will add an exciting element to road-course qualifying," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. "Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased competition with several cars on track at once."

The Cup series races on two road courses, Sonoma and Watkins Glen.