By MIKE STEPHENSON
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 5, 2001
Tonight's qualifying for the Pepsi 400 isn't entirely based on choosing the 43 fastest cars. The final seven spots are set aside for provisional qualifiers, ensuring that competitive teams can race even if they have an off night at qualifying. Here's how they work:
Car owners are given four provisional spots at the start of the season. For every eight races they attempt to qualify for, they receive another, meaning they could earn up to four more.
After the first 36 spots are awarded to the fastest qualifiers, spots 37-42 are assigned based on owner points standings as long as the owner has provisionals remaining. If the owner is in the top 25, he does not lose one of his total provisional spots for the season.
The 43rd spot in the field is reserved for a previous Winston Cup champion driver who has not qualified. The driver must have competed the previous season and have been properly entered in the event. A past champion is limited to eight such provisional starts per season. If more than one past champion meets the criteria, the one who won the title most recently gets the spot. If a previous champion does not need this spot it goes to the next car in line. -- Compiled by Mike Stephenson.