by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
The season may be over until February, but the battles continue as we see
the tempers flare over not only over the championship points but also within
the top 35 rankings. Just to briefly describe the top 35 rule, I will clarify
The drivers who are able to stay within the top 35 in the points standings
throughout the year have certain privileges granted to them. By being within
this group, a driver is guaranteed a spot in the first five races of the
season, despite qualifying efforts. In addition, a driver within the top
35 in points is able to make a race when qualifying is unable to be run
due to rain, etc.
Especially this season, we have seen prominent drivers like Dale Jarret
desperately fighting to stay within the top 35 or to push their way in with
hopes of these privileges for next year. Jarret has failed to qualify for
virtually every race this season with the exception of one or two and he
used all of his champion’s provisionals that he had available.
This is the dilemma that drivers like Kyle Petty, Dale Jarret and Michael
Waltrip face. Although very good drivers in their own right, we rarely see
them competing on the track. Races that do not qualify based on speed seem
to kill these drivers also. We saw numerous races this season where Waltrip
was in the top ten of qualifying but because 10 or so drivers could not
qualify before rain set in, qualifying was automatically canceled.
How fair is that? A driver who obviously has a fast enough car and is certainly
more than competent to drive gets ousted because NASCAR decides to call
qualifying based on rain. Why not qualify before the Busch race the next
day? NASCAR is concerned that it would be too hard to qualify drivers the
next day with practices and other qualifying events, but there is clearly
a problem with the current system.
Drivers who fail to be in the top 35 are treated as such. They do not get
the opportunity to race when they very well should on many occasions.
There is also the idea that owners can transfer points from one driver
to another to make sure that their drivers get in the race. Take Kurt Busch
and Sam Hornish Jr. There is controversy surrounding transferring Busch’s
points to Hornish because Hornish has not earned his spot on the track yet
but is being credited with such high standards that were achieved by Busch!
Why is it that a talented and experienced driver like Waltrip is not allowed
to race when someone with virtually ZERO experience in the NASCAR series
is being credited as a top ten driver?
In my opinion, NASCAR has a lot of work to do with the points system. The
top 35 rule needs to be changed. Qualifying is also another matter that
has its own problems. It would be a great idea, as Waltrip proposed, to
allow the drivers that are competing for the top 35 position to qualify
amongst themselves. Perhaps we need to bring the field down to 25 locked
in for qualifying and let the other 18 positions be battled out, despite
Truly talented drivers are being taken out of a race because of technicalities.
NASCAR needs to focus a little more on the sport instead of the corporation.