NASCAR announced Tuesday that should a non-chartered team earn a Chase spot, it will be granted a provisional starting spot for each race, assuring it the chance to compete for the Sprint Cup championship.
NASCAR also announced that should Sprint Cup qualifying not be held because of adverse conditions, race eligibility and starting positions will be based on current owner points instead of practice speeds. Starting next year, for the second and third events of the season, practice speeds for non-chartered teams will remain the criteria used to determine race eligibility.
“These changes provide a more even competition field for both Charter and Open teams, rewarding strong performances over the course of a season,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president, racing operations, in a statement. “Earning a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is extremely difficult and requires consistent elite performance. Those teams should be guaranteed an opportunity to race for the title, and this ensures that will be the case.”
Previously, only the 36 chartered teams were guaranteed a starting spot in any Sprint Cup race. With this announcement, if Ryan Blaney qualified for the Chase for the Wood Brothers — they are a non-chartered team — Blaney would be able to start every Chase race.
He enters Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway (broadcast by NBC) 17th in the standings. Blaney is three points behind Kasey Kahne, who holds the final Chase transfer spot at this time.
Only the Sprint Cup Series is impacted by these changes.