Provisionals To Change In 2004

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The provisional system for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series will have several changes beginning with the 2004 season, NASCAR officials announced Tuesday.

The most significant change in the system will increase the number of cars that make the 43-car fields via qualifying times, raising the total from 36 to 38. The move reduces the amount of provisional starting positions assigned to a field from seven to five. The "champion's" provisional remains in place for the 43rd and final starting position when applicable.

The other key change involves the eligibility for the provisional starting positions for new car owners and also those not among the top 45 in the owner standings. Those owners are ineligible for provisionals until after their entry makes an attempt to qualify at four events. After attempting to qualify for four events, the car owner will receive two provisionals and additional ones can be earned by attempting to qualify for six events, with a season maximum of eight. Previously, those outside the top 45 and new car owners earned four initial provisionals following their first attempt to qualify for a race.

Additional changes include:

Car owners in the top 45 positions of the 2003 owner championship standings will receive four provisionals at the outset of the season and will receive an additional one after attempting to qualify for six events, for a season maximum of 10. The previous season maximum was eight.

Each provisional used by a car owner during the season - regardless of standing - counts against the owner's season allotment earned. Previously, the top 25 car owners were not charged for provisionals used after the fourth race of the season.

In the event the number of entrants is equal to or less than the number of starting positions available for an event, provisionals assigned to fill starting positions 39 through 43 will not count toward the maximum season allotment.

The provisional starting positions procedure for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will remain unchanged for the 2004 season. Also unchanged for 2004 in the NASCAR Busch Series will be the rule in which car owners who utilize a driver who is among the top 35 in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship points will be ineligible for a provisional starting position.

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