How Are NASCAR's Starting Grids Determined?


Quick Answer

As of 2015, NASCAR?s starting grids are determined by filling the top 36 spots with the drivers who had the fastest speeds during qualifying. The next six spots are filled based on owner points, and the final spot is reserved for use by former NASCAR champions.

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How Are NASCAR's Starting Grids Determined?
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Full Answer

Qualifying order is determined by either practice speed or random draw. The Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series use practice speed, while the Sprint Cup series uses a random draw. Drivers get two laps around the course, and the fastest lap time of the two is used to determine the qualifying time.

The 36 fastest drivers are guaranteed a spot in the race. After those spots are determined, the next six are filled by teams who aren't able to qualify based on speed and are awarded based on owner points. This allows top teams and drivers who may be having a bad week to still qualify. NASCAR fills the spots based on point totals from the previous season for the first three races and the current season?s points starting with the fourth race.

The final position is for former NASCAR champions who failed to qualify by recording a fast enough time or by points. If a former champion chooses to take this spot, the driver must attempt to qualify normally for the next six races before being eligible to use the spot again.

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