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I’m Just Sayin’…NASCAR Qualifying is Stupefying
If you know someone who thinks NASCAR is just a bunch of guys driving around in circles, I have a challenge for you.
Get a printout of the actual qualifying results – you know, the ones based on lap times – from the October 7th Talladega race, and put them side-by-side with the actual starting lineup of the event.
Then, try explaining to a person who’s already a little dubious about NASCAR why the two lists are so completely different.
By the time you’re done, the person you’re talking to will be less concerned about drivers going in circles, and more concerned about the dizziness in his own head.
And chances are, so will you.
A few examples: Based on his actual lap time, Dale Jarrett qualified 8th, but started 43rd. A.J. Allmendinger qualified 9th, but didn’t get to race. Neither did Boris Said, who ran 10th, Scott Riggs (11th), and five other drivers with qualifying times that should have been fast enough to make the race.
On the flip side of the coin, Reed Sorenson, who qualified 37th, lined up 28th on the starting grid. Casey Mears qualified 39th based on time, but started 29th; Johnny Sauter ran 50th and started 39th; and Ken Schrader, the slowest qualifier among all 51 cars, started 40th.
A combination of two NASCAR rules – the Top 35 rule and the past champion’s provisional – meshed together with an infrequent impound race to create the craziness that was last weekend’s qualifying at Talladega. But even on a regular non-impound weekend, there are usually at least a few of the so-called go-or-go-homers who run faster qualifying laps than teams in the Top 35, but miss the race because of the Top 35 owners’ points provisional.
And that’s just not right. No matter how hard NASCAR tries to justify it, there is no acceptable explanation for a driver who qualifies 9th in a field of 51 cars to get sent home, while the one who qualifies 51st gets to race. None whatsoever.
And the fact that it happened makes MY head spin.
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I hope Jacques V. has no success in Cup racing after tucking his tail between his legs for acceptance from N.A.S.C.A.R.!
He was involved in a wreck during the truck race a day earlier (seemingly of his own doing… turned up the track and slid for the better part of the front stretch with another truck pinned to the wall in front of him) and likely didn’t want to take the same chance in the Cup race where he hopes to run in the years to come. I submit that it wasn’t really a respect issue, but a preservation issue that he played as respect to a fairly positive fan response. You can’t fault the guy for looking out for his own skin.
The fact of the matter is, if he was not slighted by the truck series and it’s particpant’s he should have expected the same from the Cup guys.It seems to me the more popular Cup series should have shown some integrity,not to mention conformity and given J.V. consistent treatment across the board considering it was their call from the onset.
I don’t know why they even have “qualifing” line up the top 35 then add enough cars to fill out the field by arrival time at the track. That would make as much sense as the way they do it now.
Make it the fastest 40 cars, two provisionals based on owners points, and the 43rd car is either the champ provisional, another owners points provisional, or the next fastest car not already locked in.
Nascar fans are all about racing but current qualifying is dull, unfair and makes zero sense.
Why not RACE your way in on race day at race time. Have the entry field split into two (50 lap or 50 mile) qualifier races. Determine qualifying grid based on owner points. Owners in the standings with a car ranking that is an odd number enter race 1, and even number rankings start in race two. Each finishing position in the qualifying race is worth one point, so the person that finishes 1st gets 22 points with 22nd position getting 1 point. Top 21 in each qualify for the main race, with the 43rd spot reserved for the highest in owners points still not qualified. The main feature race length is reduced by (100 laps or 100 miles). The main big race is scored using Nascar’s current scoring system. Fans get to see three, (for the price of one), great all or nothing races !!
All part of the ‘New NA$CAR’ that doesn’t care about the old fans that got them there.
Go fast or go home.
P.S. I still think Brian France should be subject to NA$CAR’s substance abuse/testing policy.
Becca Gladden is no longer a contributor to the Frontstretch, but you can see all her past articles on herbiography and archive page.