NASCAR’s Top 35 Rule is No More

By Jordan Dodson

Saturday NASCAR told drivers and crews that the top 35 rule would not be in effect come 2013.

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 “Drive To End Hunger” Chevrolet, also tweeted Saturday that the top 35 rule will not be part of the 2013 season.

The top 35 rule came into effect in 2005 and the rule automatically locks those top 35 in points in the weekend’s race no matter where they qualify. The rule also locks the top 35 in points from the previous year into the first five races of the season starting at the Daytona 500.

The purpose behind the rule was to protect sponsors and teams that were “helping the sport”. In the process the rule has hurt the small teams who qualify on time for races but do not make the race due to points standing.

In a sport that is driven by sponsors, the top 35 rule has been hurting NASCAR more than helping it. Sponsors have been hesitant to sign with smaller teams from concern of teams not making races due to the top 35 rule. That will not be the case in 2013 anymore.

Starting at the beginning of the 2013 season all teams must qualify on time, no matter where they are in the point standings. If NASCAR goes back to qualifying rules similar to the way they were in 2004 the top 36 spots would be set by qualifying speed from a random qualifying order. Qualifying order will no longer be set by speeds from the first practice session. That would leave seven provisional spots including a past champion provisional. All other provisionals would be based on owner points. Provisionals for the first three races, starting in 2013, will be set by the past year’s owner points.

NASCAR made a great decision to scrap the top 35 rule. This change will help small teams who are looking for sponsorship. Sponsors will be more willing to sign deals with teams, knowing they have a better chance to have their product seen on Sunday. Since the rule will not take place until 2013 we may not see an effect on the sport right away. It may not be until the summer months, next season, that we see a difference from the rule change.

The best part about the rule change will be seeing the fastest 43 drivers on Sunday and not just the top 35 drivers in points. It should create even better competition and more exciting racing.

Weigh in with your thoughts about NASCAR’s decision to eliminate the Top 35 Rule for the 2013 season. Reply below with your thoughts and continue the discussion.

ALSO: The Fan4Racing Team will discuss this topic on our Fan4Racing Fan2Fan NASCAR Talk radio show on The Sports Chronicles Radio Network Monday, October 8th, at 7pm CDT/8pm ET.

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