Nascar Weekly News and Notes = 1/24/08

Weekly Nascar News and Notes
by Virginia Vroom of

For the last few years, rules surrounding qualifying have come under
constant scrutiny, especially from those drivers classified as go or
go homers. This is because the long-standing consensus regarding
qualifying remained that everyone qualify in a certain random order
despite being guaranteed a spot in the race or not. Drivers like
Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, and Robby Gordon consistently failed to
qualify for many races (honestly, the majority of the races) because
of circumstances surrounding this rule.

However, it seems as though NASCAR officials are finally catching up
with the reasoning of drivers who despise this rule. Announced this
past week, NASCAR will allow those drivers who must qualify on time to
qualify at the end of the session in their own group. This means that
those who are guaranteed a spot because of provisionals or owners
points or whatever other circumstance will qualify as usual with a
random number drawing system amongst themselves. Those drivers like
Waltrip who do not have enough owner’s points or provisionals to be
guaranteed a spot will
have a more equal chance to make the race.


By doing this, the go or go-homers get an opportunity to focus on
other aspects of their cars rather than just making the race. This
has been such a huge problem in the past because drivers were focusing
so much on qualifying that even if they made the race, they rarely
made a good showing. This is important for these drivers because they
can focus on race-trim instead of qualifying trim. In the past, these
drivers were stuck spending every ounce of energy and time they had on
their qualifying trim just to make the car fast enough to get in the
race. Because of this, drivers lost critical knowledge of their car’s
handling and setup for the actual races. This proved to be extremely
instrumental in impound races like those at the super speedways.

According to the new rules change, this will not happen until the race
in California when qualifying occurs on February 22nd. This is
because at Daytona, there are special circumstances surrounding
qualifying with the Bud Duels and the Shootout. The field is set in a
different manner than any other race. The Nationwide Busch Series and
the Craftsman Truck Series will also allow this rule change, but they
will begin with Daytona as there are no special setups for
qualifying. For the Sprint series, there are 35 locked-in drivers.
From 36th on back, it’s a free-for-all based on who’s the quickest.
This is definitely going to prove to be a more equal playing field as
say, for example, Waltrip won’t get a second-start draw on qualifying
when Jarrett makes his qualifying run 40th. Track conditions often
change drastically between qualifying runs and especially when the sun
starts going down on the track and it cools. With the go or go-homers
qualifying basically at the same time, there is a much fairer playing
field and track conditions will most likely show a negligible change.

While a lot of this may seem to be playing favorites, its pretty
clear that if anyone needs a break and an exception to the rule, its
those drivers outside of the top 35. These guys fight week in and
week out and often struggle to make their dreams reality against teams
like Hendrick and Gibbs who clearly have everything they need set out
in front of them. So, there is no longer a need for an exception.
The rule is in NASCARs books. Those drivers who are not locked into
the top 35 week-in and week-out will be able to qualify amongst
themselves at the end of the regular qualifying session. Good work to
NASCAR for making a smart change in the rules. I think that this will
be beneficial for everyone, not just the teams outside the top 35.
There will be fewer opportunities for wrecks, blown engines, etc. by
allowing these teams ample time to prepare and less stress when it
comes to competing with the mega-teams.

24 days until Daytona strikes again, 16 days until the Budweiser
Shootout, and 21 days until the Gatorade Duels. Were getting close!