NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will use a single-car superspeedway qualifying format for next week’s race at Indianapolis and next month at Michigan.
NASCAR officials informed teams of the change late Tuesday.
The format will be the same as used in May at Talladega (and which had been scheduled to be used earlier this month at Daytona), with two rounds of qualifying. In the first round, drivers will take one warm-up lap, one timed lap and one cool-down lap.
The top 12 drivers with the fastest speeds in the first round will then advance to a second round to determine the final starting grid for the race.
The same format was to have been used at Daytona earlier this month, but rain caused the qualifying field to be set by practice speeds, per the NASCAR rule book.
At Indianapolis, Sprint Cup and Xfinity vehicles will be lined up on pit road following a random draw for each of their respective qualifying sessions. They will not be nose-in or nose-out, as has been the case at most other qualifying sessions this season.
NASCAR will release cars at a predetermined interval, and could potentially have more than one car on the track at the same time, but neither will interfere with or impede the other.
After each car takes its first qualifying lap, NASCAR will impound vehicles, followed by a 10-minute break between rounds to allow teams to make adjustments, adjust tape and use a cool-down unit.
During a break in a multi-car open test at Chicagoland Speedway on Wednesday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he was in favor of single-car qualifying.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Earnhardt said. “I believe they’re erring on the side of safety with that. If we do get pack racing or real tight racing due to that spoiler and you do have huge runs on guys on the frontstretch at Indy, that’s such a narrow area for everyone, not only the fans but everyone on pit road and down through there.
“You don’t want want to get anything going down on there like we had with Austin (Dillon) at Daytona. To make a preemptive move, I applaud NASCAR for that. I feel a whole lot safer and a lot better about it.”
Last season’s qualifying at both Indianapolis and Michigan featured three-round qualifying sessions.
Qualifying at Indianapolis will take place Saturday, July 25, with the Xfinity Series going out at 11:45 am ET, followed by the Sprint Cup Series at 1:45 pm ET. Both sessions will be televised on NBCSN.
Times for the qualifying schedule at Michigan, which will feature the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series, have not been announced yet.