It’s another hot day at Sonoma Raceway, in more ways than one. The temperatures are expected to reach nearly 90 degrees F, and Saturday is the debut of the new NASCAR road course qualifying procedure. The schedule calls for 11am PT Cup qualifying and the 1pm PT NASCAR K & N Pro Series West Carneros 200 Race of 64 laps. This makes for a Saturday more eventful than in year’s past, and the crowd shows.

The Sprint Cup garages are busy, busy busy. There are long queues for the two Tech lines, and the drivers had their closed Driver/Crew Chief Meeting.

Some of the crew members are busy with the tires, checking and measuring tire wear for each and every tire. This is done before and after each session, to measure wear, degradation and other data.

With the new Gen 6 Cup cars, there is one template which is the same for every car. It’s very heavy in its own Tech Shed, and has a motorized hoister to raise and lower onto the car. The second Tech Shed has color-coded templates for the three different manufacturers.

The last stop isn’t a Tech Shed, per se. It’s the ramp with pressure plate and computer for weighing for the car.

Tire checker

Kevin Harvick's car in Tech line

Greg Biffle leaving Tech Shed Three

NASCAR Tech Shed Hoist mid-air

NASCAR Tech Shed Template on car

NASCAR Tech Shed Template Hoist raising up

NASCAR Tech Weigh Station

Casey Mears car in Tech Shed Three

Kasey Kahne's car in Tech Shed

The Sprint Cup Series will qualify in eight groups, with five minutes for each group. The first group is the cars with the slowest Friday practice times, with Group Eight having the five fastest Friday drivers.