NASCAR eschews practice and qualifying for the rest of the 2020 season

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 28: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, leads the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Random draws will continue to determine the starting lineups of 2020 NASCAR races, though the process could change for the playoffs.

NASCAR drivers will continue to play the lottery.

The racing series announced on Tuesday that there will be no practice or qualifying for the remaining events of their trio of national circuits. Random draws will continue to determine starting position as NASCAR continues to navigate its way through the current health crisis.

Through this system, NASCAR has been able to trim race weekends into a single day at the track for many of its drivers.

“Following discussions with our race teams and the broader industry, NASCAR will continue to conduct its race weekends without practice and qualifying for the remainder of the 2020 season in all three national series,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said in a statement. “The current format has worked well in addressing several challenges during our return to racing. Most importantly, we have seen competitive racing week-to-week.”

To Miller’s point, the NASCAR Cup Series has seen seven different winners over the last 14 races since its return from the coronavirus-induced pause. Rookie Cole Custer won the first race of his career at Kentucky Speedway’s Quaker State 400 earlier this month, while Austin Dillon ended an 88-race winless drought this past weekend at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Traditional qualifying was held for the premiere Cup Series hours before it ran the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway back in May. Field inversion has been common, particularly when tracks have hosted multiple events in close proximity (i.e. the second half of the Cup Series’ weekend doubleheader at Pocono Raceway).

Random draws, however, have been the primary way to determine the starting grid in the Cup, Xfinity, and Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series. Positions are awarded based on a vehicle’s spot in the owners’ points. The first 12, for example, are assigned one of those corresponding slots in the lineup, while the next dozen get those.

NASCAR had hinted earlier in the week that the process could undergo a small tweak for the playoffs, in which each of the qualifying drivers would get those top spots. The Cup Series welcomes 16 drivers into its postseason, while Xfinity and Trucks welcome 12 and 10 respectively.

“NASCAR will adjust the starting lineup draw procedure for the Playoff races, and will announce the new process at a later date,” Miller’s statement concludes.

Many drivers have praised the lack of practice, often going from their motorhome to their car on race day.

“I thought it was really cool. I think it had zero percent effect on the race winner today,” said Chase Elliott said after a fourth-place finish at the first race back at Darlington Raceway in May. “Hopefully, we can kind of make this a trend and get back to our roots. It reminded me a lot of short track racing, which I think is a lot of fun.”

“I would much rather not practice, personally,” veteran driver and Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick said after winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta in June. “(But) you can definitely have both sides to that equation. I think for me, the benefit is having an experienced team, and being able to get things close is something that our team is really good at.”

The circuit returns to action with all three national series running at Kansas Speedway. Things get rolling with the Super Starter Batteries 400 on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The Truck Series run a pair of 200-mile races on consecutive days, beginning on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, FS1).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags