NASCAR to Eliminate the Top 35 Rule in 2013

By Joseph Wolkin
Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Since 2005, NASCAR has used a rule to lock in each of the top 35 teams via owner points. But after years of frustration from small teams, the time has come to change this rule.

The sanctioning body held a driver’s meeting earlier today to discuss the possible changes for the 2013 season. The changes would be severe if they go through.

Eliminating the ability for every team within the top 35 to be locked into each race is the first change, probably the most vital. NASCAR will probably enable teams to have a certain number of provisionals as they did from the late 1990s until 2004.

With this rule change comes an additional move that should alter the outcome of qualifying on a weekly basis. The fastest 37 cars will be locked into the race. Following those 37 cars, the remaining six spots left in the 43 car field will use the provisionals to lock themselves in the race.

Until 2004, the rule was “drivers earn provisionals in several different ways. Car owners in the top 45 positions of the previous season’s owner championship standings will receive four provisionals at the outset of the season and will receive an additional one after attempting to qualify for six events, for a season maximum of 10,” according to an article on just before the season started in the first year that NEXTEL sponsored the series.

This rule change will likely put a greater emphasis on qualifying. As of now, qualifying still gathers a great amount of effort. However, the new rule change will probably push lower funded teams to focus on practice more instead of just running five laps per practice before preparing to start-and-par.

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