NASCAR has changed the rules in the middle of the ballgame and nullified the advantage
And it’s the right call.
Yesterday, 13 cars failed to make it through pre-qualifying inspection. It’s widely speculated that some of those teams did that on purpose.
Why? Because they would have started the race on brand new tires. Denny Hamlin was set to start 25th, with a brand new set.
Meanwhile, at the front, drivers would typically start the race on their qualifying tires. Those are tires that have 1-6 laps on them. This offers a possible advantage to skipping qualifying and starting the race on new tires.
Kevin Harvick turned a 38.147 to set the pace on sticker tires in round 1. By round 3, Martin Truex Jr had set the pole with a 38.592. In just those few laps, the tires had fallen by nearly .5 seconds.
NASCAR has now adjusted the rules in the middle of the weekend. The rule change is only for this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, for now.
The teams that attempted a qualifying run, have been gifted the option to purchase a new set of tires from Goodyear. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Richard Buck made the announcement late last night. 24 cars are eligible to purchase the new set.
The teams who elect to purchase a new set will have to turn in the set of qualifying tires. This rule just allows them to start the race on new tires, like the cars from 25th on back.
It doesn’t give them an extra set. As they will be forced to turn in their qualifying set every team will still have the limit of 10 sets for the race.
This change just nullifies the possible advantage to skipping qualifying runs.
The drivers who failed pre-qualfying inspection and didn’t make it to the track for a qualifying run: Denny Hamlin; Clint Bowyer; Aric Almirola; Alex Bowman; William Byron; Daniel Suarez; Chase Elliott; AJ Allmendinger; Jimmie Johnson; Kasey Kahne; Timmy Hill; Ross Chastain; Cole Whitt;
Related: Auto Club Speedway – Starting Lineup