NASCAR is reacting to the criticism from last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup group qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway by making changes Wednesday to the group qualifying sessions that will take place for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series later this week. Last Sunday marked the first time NASCAR used their group qualifying session in this format at Daytona. The knockout style qualifying met with some criticism when it was tried on the last superspeedway the series visited, Talladega last October. Sunday’s session at Daytona left drivers feeling frustrated just as they were at Talladega last fall.
“The frustrating part is dealing with this whole system which makes no sense whatsoever,” driver Ryan Newman who was knocked out in the first round said. “It’s hard to stand behind NASCAR when everybody I talk to up and down pit road doesn’t understand why we’re doing this.”
The session was separated into three rounds all five minutes long. The first round consisted of a group of 24 cars. As they had done last fall the group waited nearly two minutes before going out. It wasn’t long before a crash ended the hopes of several drivers. Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, Bobby Labonte and JJ Yeley got together between turns 1 and 2.
“First of all I wasn’t behind the 44 (Reed Sorenson),” Bowyer said. “He came flying around and came up on the apron, jumped up in front of me and then runs over the 51 (Justin Allgaier), stacks us all up and I run into him. It’s idiotic to be out here doing this anyway. It makes no sense in being able to put on some cute show for whatever the hell this is, then you have a guy out there in desperation doing this crap like this. There’s no reason to be out here.”
“These guys have spent six months working on these cars,” he added. “Busting their asses on these cars to go out there and have some guy out of desperation do that crap, but it ain’t his fault. It’s not, it’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out here in the middle of this crap for nothing
In the aftermath NASCAR has changed the open format. The field will be divided into four groups for the first round; they will go out for two minutes instead of five. Instead of backing diagonally out of pit stalls to begin the sessions, teams will be lined up single file in the pits under the direction of NASCAR. A random draw will determine the order for the first round, and speeds will set the second-round order.
“We continue to work in collaboration with the industry to implement the most exciting and competitive qualifying format, especially as it relates to superspeedways,” NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell said in an emailed press release. “As a result we have made a few adjustments to the format for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series events later this week at Daytona. We will continue to review the qualifying format for future superspeedway events.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is racing in the Xfinity and Cup events this weekend at Daytona, approved of the changes.
“I’m glad that they’re open to making moves, making changes and trying to learn from those changes,”Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is racing in the Xfinity and Cup events this weekend at Daytona said, “The last segment from qualifying (Sunday) I thought was really exciting.
“We definitely want to have something exciting,” he added. “And we went away from single-car runs for several different reasons. I understand we more than likely will never go back to single-car runs. If that’s the case, we’ll be proactive. I’m looking forward to seeing how this works.”