The Frontstretch: Go Or Go Home Cars Qualifying Together? It's About Time by Mike Neff -- Monday August 13, 2007

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Go Or Go Home Cars Qualifying Together? It's About Time

Mike Neff · Monday August 13, 2007


This past weekend, qualifying for Sunday’s Centurion at the Glen was rained out on Friday, forcing several part-time teams to load their cars back onto their transporters without any type of opportunity to make the race. With the amount of money and effort the teams that battling for the last eight spots in the starting field have put forth just to get to the track, such a haphazard solution hardly seemed fair. Just ask part-time competitor and fan phenomenon Boris Said about the issue:

“For a part-time team, you don't get to race that much, and (for) two races in a row get taken away (due to rain is tough),” claimed the road course veteran-turned future NASCAR full-time driver back at the Glen, who is running his own team this year in a handful of events. “I don't understand why the schedule can't be adjusted and (we) just qualify tomorrow when it's going to be sunny. It's just hard for a small team. It pretty much puts us out of business. It puts me out of business. It's just a lot of income lost."

Of course, any driver on the outside looking in on a race is hardly going to be a happy camper. But Said’s message was clear: NASCAR should make every effort to allow those teams to qualify for races on the most equal playing field possible. It’s a problem the sport needs to fix, as part-time teams have every right as their full-time counterparts to get a fair shot at making the field. But as NASCAR continues to evolve, it looks like they’re working to fix the problem…sooner rather than later.

The sport is considering implementing a procedure, possibly by this weekend, where all of the cars not locked into the Top 35 in owner points will qualify consecutively, together, on a race weekend. This is by far the fairest way for these teams to compete for a starting spot in the race. Currently, they qualify wherever the draw puts them in the lineup, leaving them at the whim of the effects of weather and track conditions, as well as giving some teams an unfair advantage because the track is faster for those that are late or early depending on the time that qualifying is held. In a scenario with all the “go or go home” teams qualifying together, however, those effects are minimized, creating a more level playing field for those that actually have to make the race on speed this week.

Considering some of the wacky qualifying scenarios we’ve been through this year, a move from NASCAR would definitely be a step in the right direction; but maybe NASCAR should also consider holding a supplemental qualifying session just for those cars that are not locked into the Top 35 in event of a rainout. This weekend would have been a perfect example of how that could have been implemented: while the weather was bad on Friday, it was bright and sunny on Saturday, leaving the track with a perfect opportunity to squeeze in an extra round of qualifying.In that scenario, NASCAR could have held a session just for the teams that were attempting to make the race on speed before the Busch activities of the day, and had the final eight positions decided within an hour.

The priority with the Top 35 rule is for NASCAR to make whatever way they qualify as fair as possible for those teams that are not locked into the field on Sunday. It’s my hope that NASCAR does, in fact, implement something, and hopefully change its rules so that the cars with their race on the line will qualify first – this makes it easy, because should bad weather move in, the final eight spots can be decided without much controversy. No doubt, this clearly the fairest and most equitable way to decide which of those cars make the field.

Let’s hope the rumors are true.

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08/14/2007 05:35 AM

Would love it if they went first. but the talk is they are going to go last which puts them in danger of not getting their qualifying in if there is a chance of rain. I agree if they went first and the rain came the top eight would simply fill the last eight spots after the top 35 were set by owners points.

M. B. Voelker
08/14/2007 05:44 AM

I have no problem with the idea of putting the GOGH drivers in the same group — though it should be at the beginning of qualifying, not the end so that all this furor over rain interrupted qualifying will calm down.

But no changes should be made until Daytona 2008. It is WRONG to change the rules mid-season. Period.

The only mid-season rules changes that should ever occur are those that address a serious and urgent safety matter. Mere improvements in procedures should wait for the off-season.

L.R. Crump
08/14/2007 08:13 AM

My husband and I and a host of friends have always maintained that the current qualifying system is grossly unfair. Come on NASCAR, a fix for the situation is better done now than later!

08/14/2007 08:50 AM

something needs to be done. if your outside the top 35 you’ll never have a chance to get into the top 35. start the season at daytona with no one in the top 35 and after 5 races then lock in. this gives everyone the same chance to get into the top 35. and lets see if the big teams always make it. it’s just fair.

08/14/2007 09:44 AM

Simple solution: Fastest 43 cars race. Have an off week, hard cheese, deal with it.

wayne starnes
08/14/2007 10:23 AM

Let qualifying mean qualifying. Race the fastest cars. Let everyone earn their spot in the field. Drop the unfair top 35 rule.

Mark Rubley
08/14/2007 11:50 AM

When NA$CAR figures out how to make as much money fron the GOGH teams/cars as they do from the top 35 lock-ins they will change the process. Until that happens, don’t expect to see much movement from NA$CAR. And please, please don’t think this is not about money, it is, NA$CAR is a business, a big business, with the intent of making the most money they can. If I were the King, race the fastest 43 cars and send the rest home til next weekend. Remember – NA$CAR stands for: Now All we Seriously Care about is Revenue.


William T.
08/14/2007 12:42 PM

I say that if qualifying is rained out, NASCAR should put in place a Royal Rumble, WWF style, free for all in which the last man standing picks the 43 drivers in the field for that race

08/14/2007 01:32 PM

I’m with Paul on this one. This whole bit about the GOGH cars qualifying together to me is nothing more than a diversion from the issue. It gives the illusion that NASCAR is addressing the issue when in fact they really aren’t The GOGH cars are still the same whether they qualify together or not. The Top-35 is still right where they have always been. Go the 43 fastest and race…period. Have a second qualifying run if people are afraid some of the “popular” drivers have trouble the first run.

08/14/2007 01:59 PM

I agree with many of the previous posters. You should take the 43 fastest each week, no matter who they are. I would rather watch the 43 fastest cars than the 43 that are highest in the points and maybe ran slow in qualifying. This is a novel idea, I know, but it just might work.

Unfortunately, as others have said, NASCAR would never do it. It would cut down on money that they would make and that is all that King France, Jr. cares about.

08/14/2007 08:32 PM

NASCAR should start the fastest 42 cars every weekend, regardless of who that is, and the only provisional spot should be reserved for the winner of the previous week’s race! NASCAR wants to put more emphasis on winning races, what better way to do so than by assuring a starting spot for the next race. The top 35 rule has run it’s course, it’s time NASCAR did what’s right for the sport and put the fastest cars on the track. Otherwise, race weekend is just going to continue to be a parade of high priced billboards rather than the exciting racing that brought the popularity to the sport in the first place! RACING is about GOING FAST, not, spending money!!!!! Qualify on speed, or, lose credibility with real race fans.

08/16/2007 07:03 AM

I’m all for making everyone qualify and make the field on time!

Set the field with the 35 fastest cars then everyone else can run an Australian Pursuit. An Austrailian Pursuit is a “B-Feature” (Sometimes run as the trophy dash) where once a driver gets passed… they pull off the track and let the more competitive cars fight it out amongst themselves. When making the Sunday “A-Main” is important, the Pursuit can be an incredible event to watch!

I know, I know… showing my age and experience again… but you try being 93 and having a lifelong love of motorsport!


Contact Mike Neff

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