Two days after announcing a landmark agreement that guaranteed 36 Charter teams in every Sprint Cup race, NASCAR unveiled how the other four spots will be determined each week.
For all races but the season-opening Daytona 500, the Charter teams will be assigned starting positions in the 40-car field based on their qualifying speeds. The four “Open” slots will be determined by the qualifying results of teams that don’t have charters.
If qualifying is canceled, the combined practice speeds determine the positions of the four “Open” teams. If practice and qualifying are canceled, owner points will determine the four Open teams (2015 owner points will be used in the first three races this season).
For the Daytona 500, a Sunday qualifying session still will set the front row. The rest of the field will be set by the two Can-Am Duel qualifying races Thursday. The fields of the two qualifying races will be split evenly between Charter teams and Open teams.
The 36 Charter teams will have their starting positions determined by their finishes (aside from the top two Daytona 500 qualifiers).
The remaining four Open positions will be assigned to:
–The highest-finishing Open team in each qualifying race.
–The final two slots will be awarded based on qualifying speeds (if not already a top Open team finisher in the qualifying race).
If Daytona 500 qualifying is canceled, the top two finishing Open teams in each qualifier will earn Daytona 500 starting spots.
If the second Can-Am Duel race is canceled, the highest-finishing Open team in the first race earns a starting spot, and the final three spots are awarded based on qualifying.
If both Can-Am Duel qualifying races are canceled, qualifying determines the starting spots of all four Open teams.
If qualifying and the Can-Am Duel are canceled, the combined practice speeds are used to determine the four Open teams.
If all on-track activity before the Daytona 500 is canceled, the 2015 owner points will determine the four Open teams.
NASCAR also revealed slight changes to its Sprint Cup points system with the field size dropping from 43 cars to 40. The formula will remain one point per position; with the winner awarded 40 points (instead of 43) and 40th still awarded one. There remains a three-point bonus for a win, one point for leading a lap and another point for leading the most laps.