Sears Point: New qualifying format announced

American Le Mans Series To Introduce New Qualifying Format For Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. Braselton, GA - The American Le Mans Series will introduce a new form of "single-car" qualifying for this weekend's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at ...

American Le Mans Series To Introduce New Qualifying Format For Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Braselton, GA - The American Le Mans Series will introduce a new form of "single-car" qualifying for this weekend's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

The new qualifying format, which is in a one-race trial at Sonoma, is designed to increase the drama of competition for the New Century Mortgage FastQual Award by giving drivers more of an opportunity to post their best lap times on a track clear of traffic.

However, unlike single-car qualifying formats used in many other racing series, the format for the American Le Mans Series will have multiple cars on the track at the same time, dispatched individually at specific intervals timed to maximize the opportunity for each car to have clear track. The spacing of the cars will also create better opportunities for individual car/driver television coverage as well as coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web.

The cars will be lined up for qualifying in reverse order of the fastest lap achieved by each car in the practice session immediately prior to qualifying. The fastest cars will therefore be placed at the end of the line, building drama during the qualifying session while drivers compete for the overall pole as well as individual class poles. Each car will get a total of four laps on the track during the qualifying session, including its out lap, two flying laps and its in lap.

Previously, qualifying for ALMS races has been conducted in two 20-minute sessions, one for the production-based GTS and GT cars and the other for the two Prototype classes (LMP1 and LMP2). Cars could run as many laps as possible during the 20 minutes with the fastest counting as its qualifying time.

"The American Le Mans Series has always been for the fans, and we have been looking at ways of increasing the excitement for fans during qualifying at our events," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "The system we are introducing this weekend at Sonoma is the result of many hours of research and planning, as well as consultation with our race teams, manufacturers and sponsors. We look forward to seeing the format in action but also stress that this is a one-race trial."

Each of the four American Le Mans Series class pole winners receives $1,000 from New Century Mortgage. Cars are gridded for the race based on their qualifying time regardless of class.

Qualifying for the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma will be held at 2:15 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday. The timed race of two hours and 45 minutes starts at 11 a.m. (PDT) on Sunday.

CBS Sports will have live television coverage of the race from 3-5 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday, and the race will also be televised live in Europe by MotorsTV. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage of qualifying and the race online at www.americanlemans.com.

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