Past Sprint Cup champions can use a past champion’s provisional only once every six races this season instead of having unlimited access to provisionals as in the past.
Provisional starting spots are available to drivers who don’t make the field on speed under NASCAR’s new qualifying rules.
NASCAR officials went over many of the new rules and policies for 2013 during a meeting with the media on Thursday, and the past champion’s issue was among those discussed. Any past champion who ran at least one race the previous season starts the year with one provisional starting spot. Once a driver uses it, they must make six attempts to qualify before getting another past champion’s provisional — the driver would get use of the provisional at that sixth race.
NASCAR has changed the qualifying rules for Sprint Cup in 2013. Instead of the top 35 teams being locked into a race, only seven drivers will enter a race with a guaranteed a spot. The first 36 spots will be based on qualifying speed, then six spots go to non-qualifiers based on owner points. The final spot goes to a past champion. If there’s no past champion, the final spot goes to the next driver based on owner points.
The change is only for Cup and not for the Nationwide or Truck series.
Among other new race weekend procedures for 2013:
The qualifying order will be determined by random draw for Cup, while the qualifying order for Nationwide and Truck will be the driver’s best speed from all practice sessions, slowest to fastest.
For all three series, the current year’s owner points will be used starting with the fourth race of the season.
Gas men will not be able to make any adjustments to the car while fuel is going into the car. They can only make adjustments after the fuel can is disengaged from the gas intake. Several times last season, gas cans either remained attached to the cars or fell off the cars as the cars sped away.
Nationwide teams will get extra practice time at Las Vegas, Richmond, Charlotte and Mid-Ohio. The Richmond weekend in April will include a Nationwide test Thursday morning. The Charlotte weekend in May will include a test day Thursday with practice Friday (Sprint Cup will still have its traditional Thursday-Saturday-Sunday schedule).
Truck teams will get an extra day of practice at Charlotte and Iowa.
Shank sells car, still eyes Indy 500
Michael Shank has sold his IndyCar to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, officially ending his bid to have a full-time program in the series. But he is still trying to field a car for the Indianapolis 500 and is talking with existing teams about a potential partnership for the race.
Shank spent $1 million on a Dallara DW12 in anticipation of fielding an IndyCar team last year. But a shortage of engines and difficulty in putting together a sponsorship package kept him on the sidelines.
He did put together a deal with driver Jay Howard for the Indy 500 but could not secure an engine from one of the three manufacturers. Schmidt needed the DW12 chassis for Indy Lights champion Tristian Vautier to use in his move to IndyCar.
Patrick acquires Cup owner points in deal
Stewart-Haas Racing has acquired owner points for Danica Patrick’s Sprint Cup team heading into this season, but likely not enough to ensure that Patrick doesn’t miss the Daytona 500.
Patrick drove the No. 10 car in 10 races last year but she will not have those points from last season. Instead, Stewart-Haas Racing has struck a deal with Robinson-Blakeney Racing to acquire the owner points from its No. 49 team.
The No. 49 car, which was driven primarily by J.J. Yeley, was 42nd in owner points, which likely would do little to help Patrick make the Daytona 500 should she have problems in qualifying or the qualifying races. The deal, though, could possibly help her team if rain washes out qualifying for the following races at Phoenix and Las Vegas.