The Frontstretch: NASCAR Rules! Qualifying by Amy Henderson -- Monday February 13, 2006

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NASCAR Rules! Qualifying

Amy Henderson · Monday February 13, 2006

 

The Rule:
NASCAR’s current Nextel Cup qualifying rules guarantee a starting spot to each of the top 35 teams in owner’s points (based on the previous year for the first five races each season), ostensibly because the top teams are the ones that the majority of fans pay to see on race day. There is also a starting spot (43rd) available to the most recent Nextel Cup champion not otherwise in the field.

My Take:
Oops. NASCAR got this one wrong. First of all, all the drivers have fans, not just those in the top 35. Someone is going to go home disappointed on race weekend as long as more than 43 cars show up-that’s the nature of the beast. The teams that are new, or have lower budgets will continue to fall further and further behind the big-name teams because they can never get a foothold or the experience to compete. It’s a form of collusion at worst, unfair at best.

And there is the issue that came to the forefront this weekend after two teams with guaranteed starting spots had their qualifying runs disallowed for rules violations. However, with the current qualifying rules and Daytona’s format, neither is nay worse off than they were before. Both will still have to race the Dual 150’s just to determine starting position-a mere formality. That’s right-both teams are still guaranteed a spot-Jimmie Johnson’s on the strength of their 5th place finish in points in 2005, Terry Labonte’s because Labonte is the most recent series champion without a lock. Nothing has changed, and two teams that qualified with legal cars will still go home.

What the rule should be is that teams with a locked in spot automatically lose their free pass if they violate a rule in such a way that it gives them a competitive advantage, as was the case with both disqualified times Sunday. They should have to race or qualify their way in with the rest of the field without a lock. If they can race in with a legal car, that’s fine, let them race on Sunday. But if they aren’t fast enough, then they should not benefit when a legal team goes home. If NASCAR wants to create parity and discourage “creative mechanics,” the qualifying rule needs to get written out.

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Jim
02/14/2006 06:56 PM
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Amy,

If they’re going to keep this absurd rule for qualifying lets at least get the number down to 30 and keep those 30 off the track when the others race for positions on Thursday. If the golden 35 is collusiory, then what about the team cars ganging up to get their guy in the race on Thursday and freezing the non-team car(s) out of the main pack or just plain blocking. Even if a strong qualified teammate pushes his weaker one to the front it deprives another driver of a fair shot even if that driver is faster, better and more deserving.

I don’t like this system. It hurts the credibility of NASCAR and ruins the Twins at Daytona. Why bother coming down before Saturday any more?

 

Contact Amy Henderson

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