Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NASCAR qualifying changes almost like adding more racing

   NASCAR on Wednesday officially unveiled its qualifying format changes for 2014, switching to a group "knockout" qualifying process in all three of its national series - Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks.

   Each driver entered in each race will take to the track during the opening qualifying round, going out in a randomly selected order. Either two rounds of qualifying or three will be used depending on the size of the track until a final group composed of the 12 fastest drivers remain.

   Those 12 will determine who wins the pole. The 12 drivers in the final group will start 1-12 in the race.

   The practical effect will be to see almost mini-races.

   “This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition.

   Nationwide and Truck teams will use the new format next month at Daytona but the Cup series will retain its traditional qualifying format for the Daytona 500. The Truck series will retain its heat-race format for its annual stop at Eldora Speedway.

   Although NASCAR considered the idea, it will not award points to series pole winners.

Cheerios honors the 'Legacy of the 3'

   Race fans in Cincinnati got revved up for the start of the 2014 NASCAR season as Kroger and General Mills partnered to bring NASCAR star Austin Dillon to Kroger’s hometown where he met with fans, employees and unveiled new Cheerios packaging that honors the continued legacy of the No. 3 in the sport.

   Dillon, who will be competing in his first full season in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, revealed an over-sized version of the Cheerios box at Kroger in West Chester, Ohio earlier this afternoon while meeting fans. 

   The one-of-a-kind packaging showcases the iconic No. 3 on the front of the Cheerios box with historic photos and facts about the No. 3 covering the entire back side of the cereal package. Fans will be able to purchase their collectible Cheerios box exclusively at Kroger beginning Feb. 16.

   “Not only is it an honor for me to drive the No. 3 Cheerios Chevrolet SS, it’s very humbling to have the heritage of the No. 3 featured on a Cheerios box,” said Dillon. “When I began racing, I wanted to race the No. 3 because that was the number my grandfather, Richard Childress, raced before Dale Earnhardt made it famous. It’s a special number for our family and to see the history of the No. 3 being showcased on a box of Cheerios is really cool. It’s a great example of the support General Mills and Kroger has for our sport and its fans.”