NASCAR says ‘Nobody deserves to see that’ in relation to qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway
The new NASCAR rules package has created a drafting requirement when it comes to qualifying. At tracks larger than 1-mile, drivers are now hitting the track in groups.
But, no drivers wants to lead that group off the pit lane. In that case, they are pulling the train instead of drafting.
So, they pull out of their pit stall, pull to the edge of the pit lane and wait in the staging areas as the clock runs down.
Most of the field waited 9 minutes of 10 minutes in round one. They then waited 9 minutes of 10 minutes in round two. In the final round, they waited 4 of 5 minutes in round three. Each time, drivers waited until a minute remaining in the session to take to the race track.
NASCAR’s Jay Fabian doesn’t like what he saw in qualifying
“We’re disappointed with what we saw,” Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Jay Fabian said following the qualifying session.
“Nobody deserves to see that, our fans don’t deserve it. We’re going to take whatever steps we have to to clean it up so we don’t have this problem again. Pretty much everything’s on the table as far as what we’ll do moving forward.”
“It’s certainly disappointing what happened. Moving forward, we’ll do what we have to do to make sure the fans get what they want to see.”
NASCAR drivers waiting for groups in qualifying
A few drivers decided to put their fate into their own hands. Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones both made qualifying attempts without the draft.
Instead of waiting on pit road with the crowd, they elected to hit the track. With the run complete, Suarez climbed from his car before the rest of the field even left the pit lane. Suarez will now start inside the top-5 in 4th.
Jones on the other hand will start in the 11th position.
“It’s disappointing that they sit out there as long as they do,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that they give reasons why they don’t go and then someone goes and they choose to not follow him. So, a lot of what they say doesn’t add up to their actions on pit road. I guess that’s the disappointing part.”
“When you see someone roll, you would assume that somebody would follow them and they chose not to, which kind of leads you to being landlocked at the end of pit road.”
“We’ll put more thought into it and react the way we feel like we need to,” he added. “Again, whatever we have to do to give the fans what they want to see with cars qualifying is what we’re going to have to take steps to achieve.”
New NASCAR qualifying rules to prevent similar scenes from Auto Club Speedway; They didn’t work
Two weeks ago, NASCAR saw a similar result on the edge of the pit lane. At Auto Club Speedway, the field waited so long that no driver made it to the line in time to start a lap. Thus, no driver set a time in the final round of qualifying.
This week, NASCAR returned to another 1.5-mile track. The sanction brought new rules to qualifying in an effort to prevent a similar scene from Auto Club Speedway.
At the end of the pit lane, NASCAR now has two staging areas. The middle lane must remain clear. If I driver pulls into that lane, he must head onto the race track. The inside and outside lanes of pit road are now designated staging areas.
Additionally, NASCAR put a rule in place to require drivers to turn at least one lap in qualifying. If a driver advances to any round and then does not set a time in that round, all times will be disallowed. They will start at the back.
Despite the new rules, we saw very similar scenes.
More NASCAR qualifying changes pending
NASCAR will likely make more changes. The next two races are short tracks at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway were drafting isn’t desired. Then, the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway where they make single car runs.
The next track were this may become on issue is Dover International Speedway on May 5th. Though, Dover is close to a short track. On May 11th, they head to Kansas Speedway.
NASCAR has over a month to make changes before any of these issues arise again.