NASCAR has announced a number of competition changes for the 2013 season, highlighted by a new qualifying format in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that places a greater emphasis on speed. Below is a breakdown of next season’s slate of competition updates.

Qualifying Format In The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

In NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, the series will move to a 36-6-1 format where the fastest 36 cars will make the race on speed.

The next six highest ranking cars in owners points that have not already earned a starting position through qualifying and who have entered the event by the posted entry deadline will also make the field. The final starting position will be awarded to the most recent eligible past champion driver. If there is no eligible past champion driver, then a seventh car will make the field based upon owners’ points.

Provisional positions in the 36-6-1 format will be lined up by owners’ points, not speed.

Since 2005, the top 35 cars in owners’ points were guaranteed a spot in the field. Now, only a maximum of seven cars will be locked into a given race.

“This is a big win for our fans,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “They’ll see the fastest cars earn their starting spots. This change adds intrigue, drama and excitement to qualifying.”

In 2013, the qualifying order for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events will return to a random draw. However, in the event qualifying is canceled due to rain, the field will be set per the rule book and the starting lineup will continue to be determined by practice speeds.

Additionally, provisional positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be based upon the previous year’s owner points for the first three races, as opposed to the first five races in previous years for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and four races for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Maximum Field Set At 40 Cars For NASCAR Nationwide Series

In an effort to strengthen the ownership base up and create a sense of urgency among teams to make races, the maximum starting field for the NASCAR Nationwide Series will be set at 40, as opposed to the 43-car field in previous years.

A maximum NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting field will remain at 43 cars while the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will hold steady at 36.