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For the most part, NASCAR’s national series have not held their usual pre-race practice and qualifying sessions for the past year due to cutbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, and some in the sport wouldn’t mind if it stayed that way.
Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson voiced his opinion on NASCAR race weekends’ format going forward on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio March 18.
“I think the industry has learned something that we never would have before,” Wilson said. “We would’ve never had the courage, I think, to collectively say, ‘Let’s not practice.’ Right? I mean, that just sounds ridiculous.
ICYMI: @ToyotaRacing Development President @DavidWilsonTRD shared his thoughts about the future of practice and qualifying earlier today on #TMDNASCAR@TheMikeBagley | @PPistone pic.twitter.com/b4dz6eQkpD
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) March 18, 2021
“But now we’ve learned that we can show up at the racetrack and race, to your initial question. I would really be disappointed if we revert back to the old habits of three 50 minute practices and qualifying, it’s unnecessary, it’s expensive.
“I’m optimistic that we can take this lesson and extrapolate a better race weekend format going forward.”
Thus far this year, all three national series practiced for the season-opening race weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Both the NASCAR Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series qualified, but Xfinity Series qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather.
Comparatively, ARCA, owned by NASCAR, has completed five races thus far this year between its main series and the East and West divisions. All those events have been with practice and qualifying sessions.
Some have criticized the lack of qualifying in particular as locking out teams that wish to compete; for example, in Xfinity, the Nos. 31, 77 and 03 of Jordan Anderson Racing, Bassett Racing and Our Motorsports have been unable to race due to not having enough points to qualify for the 40-position field.
NASCAR currently only plans to have practice and qualifying in a handful of race weekends in 2021, mostly at new tracks on the schedule. Both the Cup and Truck series will participate in practices and heat races at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track next weekend, giving any team that shows up the chance to qualify.