NASCAR’s competition director says it was ’embarrassing’ that no driver turned a lap in qualifying; Talks pending changes
Last Friday at Auto Club Speedway, no driver turned a lap in the final round of NASCAR qualifying. It was a first time in the history of the sport that a driver took the pole with no lap in the final round.
Austin Dillon was quickest in round two. At the start of round three, he sat at the end of the pit lane ahead of the field.
NASCAR has a new rules package for 2019. With the new rules, drafting has come into play at the larger speedway ovals when it comes time to qualify.
But, if you’re the first car out, you aren’t drafting anyone. Instead, you’re likely to be the slowest of the group. So, it creates a waiting game at the end of pit lane as nobody wants to go first.
Austin Dillon was quickest in round two. If he could trick everyone into missing their round three lap, he would be the pole sitter.
And that’s exactly what he did. Dillon slowly crept off the pit lane. He was stalling just long enough that the field couldn’t make it back to the line to start a timed lap before the clock expired.
It worked perfectly. The entire field was 2 or more seconds shy of making it to the start/finish line after leaving pit lane so late.
The fans at Auto Club Speedway reacted by booing the entire show from the grandstands.
The week prior, a fight broke out in qualifying. The drama has been escalating when it comes to setting times.
Scott Miller on NASCAR qualifying
“That wasn’t good for any of us. It wasn’t good for the teams, NASCAR and obviously it wasn’t good for the fans,” NASCAR’s competition director Scott Miller stated to ‘The Morning Drive’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“Both of us who put on a show for the fans have a little bit of egg on our face. We will work very hard to rectify that.”
“There’s a lot of sentiment, ‘Well, let’s just make it single car qualifying.’ And that is easy. That would be super easy for us.”
“But, we don’t think that’s much of a compelling show. And there’s another aspect of that in that it would start a whole ‘nother development cycle for single car qualifying specific setups, car builds and that sort of thing. Which we really don’t want to trigger.”
“There’s a few options. We’ll sit down this week.”
Martinsville Speedway is not a likely track for these issues to surface. At recent tracks, teams were drafting in qualifying. At the paperclip oval, drafting is unlikely.
“Texas will be the next big challenge with this group drafting. We’ll try to come up with something that avoids what we saw the other day and still puts on a compelling show.”
Is there an option just to try it again?
“Well, we knew there was potential for the waiting. We really didn’t expect anybody would wait until the time elapsed. That seemed kind of counterintuitive to what might happen,” Miller continued.
“I think we have to react to what we saw. It would really be bad if we didn’t react and saw that again.”
“It was embarrassing enough, the first time around. We need to do something to not give the chance for that to happen again.”