How Do They Determine the Starting Position of the Cars in NASCAR?


Quick Answer

Forty-three drivers compete to determine the starting grid in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series, as of 2015. The track length determines the qualifying format.

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Full Answer

Three qualifying rounds are used on tracks of more than 1.25 miles. Drivers race one timed lap in each round. The 24 fastest drivers move to the second round. Drivers who do not qualify for the later rounds are placed 25th through 43rd in the starting grid based on lap times.

The top 12 drivers in the second round advance to the third round. The remaining drivers earn 13th through 24th position in the grid based on their best lap in the second round. The 12 remaining drivers use the same format with the third-round lap times determining first through 12th in the grid.

Two qualifying rounds are used on tracks of more than 1.25 miles, where drivers also race one timed lap. The 12 drivers with the best lap times advance to the second round. Lap times also determine 13th through 43th positions in the grid. In the second round, first through 12th positions are based on lap times during the round.

Qualifying periods on long tracks are 30 minutes in the first round, 10 minutes in the second round and five minutes in the third round. On short tracks, the periods are 30 minutes in the first round and 10 minutes in the second round.

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