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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Makes Tweaks To Qualifying Ahead Of Texas Weekend

After a fiasco of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying session at Auto Club Speedway in early March, NASCAR has made changes to qualifying going forward. The new rules will officially begin at Texas Motor Speedway this coming weekend.

From now on, drivers must continue onto the racetrack once they leave their “designated starting area.” That means they cannot park at the end of pit road and wait, as seen at Auto Club.

If NASCAR finds that a driver is intentionally blocking pit road, they will disqualify the driver’s lap times from previous rounds. The driver would then start the race at the rear of the field. Furthermore, if a driver cannot begin a lap before the clock expires in a round, as all 12 drivers experienced during the final round of qualifying at Fontana, they will start the race at the rear of the field, due to their previous times being disallowed.

NASCAR is not forcing drivers to leave the pits at a certain time. Instead, they cannot wait at the end of pit road.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller explained the situation to NASCAR.com.

“We want to allow every competitor the chance to leave pit road when they want to leave and not be at the mercy of somebody else,” Miller said.

A return to single car qualifying to most oval tracks on the circuit was never on the table for the sanctioning body.

“Single-car qualifying is two things – it’s boring and it’s expensive,” he added. “It also doesn’t create a good show. Certainly, we are in, first and foremost, the racing business. But we’re also in show business. We definitely have to provide our fans with something that’s intriguing to watch and gets them excited about coming back and watching the race.”

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

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11 thoughts on “NASCAR Makes Tweaks To Qualifying Ahead Of Texas Weekend”

  1. How expensive in single car qualifying compared to cars sitting on the track? The teams will start playing games with this version of qualifying too. I’m sure they are working on it already.

  2. Let me let you in on a little secret Mr. Miller, group qualifying doesn’t exactly produce a “good show” either. It’s qualifying for goodness sakes. Maybe you are over-thinking it.

    You have the formula for qualifying putting on a good show that people will want to watch… do what you do at the all-star race; 3 laps with a mandatory pit stop and NO PIT ROAD SPEED LIMIT (you could make it 4 laps if you think that would make it better). I can honestly say that was the most exciting format for qualifying you ever had. Just seeing who would come in too fast and blow through their pit stall was exciting and fun. So there you have it.

    • The problem with that is that it would legitimately take a long time for a 36-40+ car field to make. At a track like Michigan, qualifying would stretch to a couple of hours rather than the hour or less it would take for single car qualifying or the 40 minutes for group qualifying.

      • Good point Michael but I can honestly say that is the only format that ever made qualifying a good show and exciting to watch. If the show group qualifying produces is better than single car qualifying, it isn’t that much better.

  3. I was wondering about that “expensive” statement too Michael. Let’s see,,, in single car qualifying each car runs two laps, that’s 80 laps total.
    In group qualifying 40 cars run at least 2 laps in the first round, 24 cars run at least 2 laps in the second round, and 12 cars run at least 2 laps in the third round, that’s a minimum of 152 laps;(2×40) + (2×24) + (2×12).

    How is single car qualifying more expensive? Because it takes longer!??? Doesn’t that allow for more commercials?

  4. Can’t agree more with Miller’s description of single car qualifying. “boring and expensive”.

  5. How is group qualifying more exciting? Cars aren’t going to race each other during qualifying. Too much marketing & not enough substance.

  6. Well, at least they did something. Now we’ll get to watch to see what the teams are going to do to buggar things up this time!

  7. Nascar’s sole intent seems to be, “lets not treat the customer right.” Viewers have let them know how they feel about group qualifying. Most, me included, don’t like it. It another gimmick that is being shoved down viewers’ throat. I won’t be watching.

  8. So how is that better? There could be 36 cars waiting until the last two minutes and all go on track at the same time. Tick Tock Tick Tock… The grass looks greener and the paint is drier.

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