Thursday the NASCAR Sprint Cup Garage at Phoenix International Raceway was somewhat busy with vehicles of different sorts, including Impound for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Series. But, there wasn’t a Cup car to be seen. They are due in Thursday evening, starting 6pm local time.
This weekend’s The Profit on CNBC 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race is the second on the 2014 Cup Series schedule. The race will be 312 laps/miles, which equals 500 kilometers. It will be the first race of the season to utilize the new NASCAR qualifying format.
As Phoenix is an oval shorter than 1.5-miles, its format will be for two qualifying sessions. The first will be 30 minutes, after which the fastest 12 drivers will advance to the second round. The remainder will be ranked according to their speeds, including the provisional starting positions based on owner points and past champions. Round Two starts ten minutes later, with those drivers ranked P1-12 based on their new speeds. Ties are broken by 2013 owner points.
All cars must start Qualifying Round One with a full tank of fuel. There are more rules regarding crews and what can or cannot be done to the car, etc.
Phoenix is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, so expect some celebratory surprises.
This weekend’s schedule includes four NASCAR races – Sprint Cup Series; Nationwide Series-Blue Jeans Go Green 200; K&N Pro Series West Series Talking Stick Resort 75 Race; and Toyota 120 Mexico Series Race.
Thursday is Practice, Qualifying and Race for K&N and practice for Toyota Mexico. Friday will start at 10am for final practice for Toyota Mexico. Then follows practice for Nationwide, and at noon, a ninety-minute Cup practice. Toyota Mexico qualifies and races Friday afternoon and evening. In between, Cup has set aside two hours for its new qualifying sessions.
Saturday Cup has two practice sessions and the afternoon off. Nationwide qualifies in the morning and has its 200-lap/miles race at 1:45pm local time.
Sunday’s only event is the 312-lap/miles Cup race.
The weather forecast has been revised from the earlier expected eighties all weekend. Thursday the weather was beautiful and mild despite going as high as 81 degrees F. There were scattered clouds and a nice breeze which furled the flags.Friday the forecast calls for 79 degrees high, mostly cloudy and a 20 percent chance of rain. Saturday the chances of rain increase to 80 percent with a high of 71 degrees – at least it won’t be cold. Sunday it gets better, with only a 10 percent chance of rain, partly cloudy with a high of 68 degrees.
After last weekend’s NASCAR rain-delayed Daytona 500 race, let’s hope that FOX Sports has a Plan B.