Spicing up race weekend is never a bad thing. Giving fans more to watch and talk about will only add to the hype races already generate. NASCAR’s latest change involves turning qualifying from a snooze-fest into a must-watch event. Two hour qualifying sessions will be thrown out as drivers will now compete in an hour long session composed of two to three rounds. The thrilling hour of time trials is set to make qualifying something worth paying attention to.
This overhaul of qualifying adds excitement just through the title. Qualifying has never been the most exciting event. By increasing the action, the interest-level will also rise making the move a win-win for NASCAR.
Drivers have spoken highly of the new system, fans are giving it a thumbs-up, and tracks are all for it. Not many moves by NASCAR are so welcomed, but this one is surrounded by nothing but positivity.
The new procedure is broken down like this. For tracks 1.25 miles and longer, three rounds will decide the starting lineup. The first round will feature every car/truck on track for 25 minutes. After time expires, the fastest 24 cars/trucks will advance to the second round. This round will be ten minutes in length and the fastest 12 will move on to the final round. The final round is composed of five minutes which will decide the pole winner as well as the first 12 starting positions.
For tracks less than 1.25 miles, only two sessions will be necessary. The first will be a half an hour in length and will feature all cars/trucks. The fastest 12 from the session will advance to the final ten minute pole-deciding round following a ten minute break.
A few rules teams will have to abide by include no adjustments on the vehicles during the rounds. Teams can only make changes during the breaks which follow each round. The garage is off-limits as teams will be kept on pit road throughout the session. They will only be allowed one set of tires and refueling will not be permitted. Pit road speed will be monitored, so drivers must carefully make their way down the pit lane.
If something is to happen on the race track, the red flag will be displayed and the clock will stop. The clock will resume once green flag conditions are restored.
The Daytona 500, Eldora Truck Race, and any non-points event will not include the new procedure. All other restrictor plate events will, and drafting will be permitted.
If it is to rain during the session, the most recently completed round will determine the lineup.
Something NASCAR seems to be going after for the upcoming season is the term “excitement.” Now with qualifying being amped up, action will be present before the actual races arrive on race weekend. This new procedure is essentially a small-race in which cars will be competing on the track. Adding more racing to race weekends is a great move by NASCAR and it should be overwhelmingly approved by fans.
By Jason Schultz
Follow me on twitter, @NASCARJason