NASCAR may set starting lineup in different way in playoffs

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NASCAR is looking at determining the starting lineup in a different way for the playoffs.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, made the comment Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Since NASCAR returned in May, the starting lineup for each race — except the Coca-Cola 600, which had qualifying — has been determined by a random draw. In Cup, teams that are between first and 12th in owner points draw for starting spots 1-12. Teams between 13th and 24th in owner points draw for starting spots 13-24. Teams between 25th and 36th in owner points draw for starting spots 25th and 36th. There are similar type draws in the Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

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Miller said the random draw is used since teams are not practicing and qualifying, in part, because of crew roster limits at the track due to safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. NASCAR has released tentative weekend schedules into August and none of those races has practice or qualifying listed. The Cup playoffs are scheduled to begin Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway.

Miller explained on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the sanctioning body’s approach to practice and qualifying and how that impacts a decision to use a random draw to set starting lineups.

“We have announced and committed to no practice and qualifying through Dover (Aug. 21-23),” Miller said. “What’s beyond that is still a little bit up in the air. To have practice and qualifying, we have to have more people on the rosters. There’s a lot more things that need to go on in the garage area, very much more difficult to execute all of the safety protocols with the COVID-19.

“To get back to anything different than what we’re doing now is really going to take a significant change in sort of the landscape of COVID-19. I look at least through Dover it will be the draws as we know it.

“Kind of reviewing now what would be the right thing to do in the playoffs if we can’t have qualifying. Maybe still some kind of a draw, but obviously, probably something that encompasses the playoff cars in one lot and the rest of the field in another. Haven’t really gotten there yet, but we know that once the playoffs come we may have to adjust the way we draw if we aren’t practicing and qualifying.”