Drivers and race fans alike will encounter an exciting new twist when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 21-23.

NASCAR announced today that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will implement the group-based road-course qualifying procedure used in NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Touring Series competition during its road-course events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y). Under the new procedure, cars will qualify in groups instead of the traditional single-car qualifying runs.

In Sonoma, drivers will hit the track for two practice sessions on Great Clips Fast Friday, the second of which will arrange the drivers based on practice times.  This order will establish groups for Lean 1 Pole Day qualifying, which moves to Saturday morning. Each group will be given one qualifying session on track to produce the quickest lap time.

            

Great Clips Fast Friday Tickets Here           Lean1 Pole Day Saturday Tickets Here

"This is going to be a terrific new format for our NASCAR weekend.  It will intensify the action on the track with drivers having to fight through traffic to establish their overall position on the grid," said Steve Page, president and general manager for Sonoma Raceway. "It's a very positive development for our fans."

The new qualifying rules for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at road courses are as follows:

  • Cars attempting to quality will be divided into groups. The number of groups, and amount 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 vice president of competition. “Fans will be treated to new strategy and increased drama with several cars on track at once.”

The new format will debut with the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, June 21-23. For more information or to purchase you tickets today, visit www.racesonoma.com or call 800-870-RACE (7223).