CARS Tour Shakes Up Qualifying & Race Formats

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CARS Tour
The CARS Tour will utilize a variety of qualifying and race formats throughout the season. (Adam Fenwick Photo)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – The CARS Tour will utilize multiple qualifying and race event formats during the upcoming season, which begins on March 11 at Concord (N.C.) Speedway.

The formats are meant to add identity, strategy and variety to the touring series heading into its third season of competition.

Three different qualifying formats will be used over the course of the 12-race season. Traditional single car qualifying will continue to set the starting field at select events, with the fastest car starting from the pole position, just as has been done since the series inception in 2015.

New for 2017 will be Group Qualifying, in which drivers will be grouped via random draw, and have five laps to set fast time. The fastest qualifier overall will start from the pole position for the feature event.

Perhaps the most intriguing new qualifying format for 2017 will be Knockout Two Step Qualifying. Teams will get eight minutes in round one to make a qualifying attempt, with the fastest eight competitors advancing to round two. After a short four minute break between rounds, round two participants will get five minutes to qualify on the pole position for the events feature race.

CARS Tour officials will make an effort to schedule these timed sessions closer to the feature event start times.

Similar to qualifying, three different race formats will be utilized throughout the season. The majority of the events will still see the traditional 100-150 green flag lap races that followers of the CARS Tour have become accustomed. The two new race formats introduced for the upcoming year will be Duel and Live Pit Stop race formats.

In duel events, each division will have two 50-75 lap feature events each paying $2,500 to win and $300 to start with each race awarding championship points. Thus the championship battle will see drivers have 15 chances to earn points at 12 different events.

For the live pit stops, competitors will be required to make two pit stops, for position, under yellow flag conditions throughout races 100-150 laps in distance. The pit stops will consist of a single crew member removing an item from the car as set forth by CARS Tour officials. No tires or fuel can be changed or added during the stops thus the format will add no additional cost to teams, while still adding a vast amount of strategy.

“You have to be adaptive, unique, and create fresh new ideas that keep people interested and entertained,” said Chris Ragle, CARS Tour series director. “As a society it’s pretty evident that we think, act, and socialize different than we did even as a little as five years ago. At the end of the day we understand that we as a series are in the entertainment business while our competitors are in the competition business. We feel these new formats not only add to the entertainment value, but in fact add to the competition value with a true team effort via strategy now necessary to win at some CARS Tour events. Our sport, unlike that of many stick and ball sports, has gotten complacent at times over the years when it comes to changes. That’s something we want to make sure doesn’t happen within the CARS Tour. We feel these are changes that will add to our series overall and make for an exciting 2017 season.”