Failing pre-qualifying inspection and thus not turning a lap would have resulted in a pass-through penalty for the Xfinity race; Martinsville combines inspections
Last week at Auto Club Speedway, 13 failed to make it through pre-qualifying inspection. As a result, those cars weren’t allowed to qualify.
It’s widely speculated that many of those teams missed qualifying on purpose. Why? It would allow them to start the race on new tires while the leaders would start the race on qualifying tires that had 3-6 laps of degradation on them.
NASCAR put a stop to that plan late Friday night. They allowed all the teams who qualified to purchase a brand new set of tires. Then, NASCAR allowed those teams to put on the new sets to start the race.
“All of the 13 would have had such a huge advantage on tires, we would have seen them driving up through the field. And I would say potentially taking the lead by lap 15. To reward teams for actually failing an inspection was something that we just didn’t think that the fans or anybody wanted,” NASCAR Senior VP of Competition Scott Miller stated on ‘The Morning Drive’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“So we came up with what we did. It seamed to be well received in the garage area. And hopefully it was with the fans.”
It was a band-ade fix for the unique situation that the teams created. However, with that band-ade in place, the advantage for missing qualifying was instantly removed. In fact, it became a disadvantage, as it should be.
NASCAR put a new rule in place for NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying. The next day at Auto Club Speedway, the rule went into effect.
The new rule: If a NASCAR Xfinity Series team failed to turn a lap due to a failed pre-qualifying inspection then that team would be forced to start at the rear AND serve a pass through penalty on the first lap of the race.
“Just to make sure that nobody had the bright idea to fail inspection on purpose. I’m not saying anybody did. But, we just had to guard against — We just had to have the teams be very serious about presenting their cars for inspection,” Miller explained.
This weekend at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR also a new inspection process. NASCAR has removed pre-qualifying inspection. Instead, pre and post-qualifying inspection have been lumped into one.
Starting at Martinsville, post-qualifying inspection will also be pre-race inspection. This will allow every team to make it on track for qualifying. If a team fails post-qualifying (pre-race inspection) then they will start at the back on the field.
It’s another alternative to the rule NASCAR tried at Auto Club Speedway for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. NASCAR is testing the waters with this.
“Moving forward, I’m not sure either thing will be where we land. But, we will certainly be working on something to keep from having to react like that at the race track,” Scott Miller concluded.
Related: Auto Club Speedway – Starting Lineup