NASCAR Updates Sprint Cup Series Race Eligibility
NASCAR announced Tuesday that any non-charter team that qualifies for the Chase for the Sprint Cup would be guaranteed a provisional starting spot in every race in the Chase.
Currently, any non-charter team must qualify on speed for one of four spots in the 40-car field available to "open" teams. The 36 charter teams are guaranteed a starting spot in all points-paying Sprint Cup races.
Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford is currently the highest-ranked non-charter driver. Blaney is currently 17th in points, just three points behind Kasey Kahne, who currently holds the last Chase position. Should Blaney win a race before Richmond, he would qualify for the Chase.
"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. "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."
NASCAR also announced Tuesday that starting with Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, current year owner points will replace practice speeds for determining race eligibility and starting position in the event qualifying is canceled.
Starting in 2017, for the second and third races of the season, practice speeds of the non-charter teams will remain the criteria used for race eligibility.