NASCAR Race Weekend Central

I’m Just Sayin’… NASCAR Qualifying is Stupefying

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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 eighth, but started 43rd. AJ Allmendinger qualified ninth, 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 owner 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 ninth 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.

Remember that Frontstretch is LIVE at the track all weekend from Lowe’s Motor Speedway. From a special podcast from Matt Taliaferro and Tom Bowles – right from the pit area – to event coverage and special interviews from Mike Neff, we’ll have you up to date with all the news and notes from the track in Concord, N.C., right here first. Would you expect anything else from the site that bills itself as the “Best Seat the Track, Best View On The Net!” We hope not!

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